[Sca-cooks] Recipe Deal Breakers

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 8 10:29:42 PDT 2008

By 18, i had barely passed Home Ec. and usually failed at the 
prevalent package mixes of the 60s. When i dropped out of college in 
1967, i could only make spaghetti (and baked spaghetti casserole - 
cooked spaghetti, sauteed onion, 1 little can each tomato paste, 
tomato puree, and tomato sauce - no meat, cheese, or spices), 
scrambled hamburger (ground meat sauteed and broken into small 
pieces), and tuna salad. I was from the Midwest and spicy meant one 
clove of garlic in a dish for 6.

Then i had a life changing experience: a date took me to an Indian 
restaurant where i ordered my food "hot". I then bought Indian, 
Turkish, Persian, Armenian, and Mexican cookbooks. Two months later i 
cooked a 16-dish Indian meal for a few friends, including making my 
own mango chutney and lemon pickle, and i'd never even seen anyone 
make jam.

My mother thought deep frying was bad. But in the mid-70s i learned 
to deep fry in a wok when i began cooking Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, 
and other Southeast Asian food (uses less oil than a typical 

My family considered organ meat "disgusting", although occasionally 
had chopped liver. My parents thought fish tasted "fishy", although 
my dad enjoyed fishing, so the only "fish" we ever was: shrimp 
cocktail or Louie, fresh Maine lobster, smoked salmon or whitefish, 
canned tuna salad, and canned salmon croquettes (hey, it was the 50s 
in the Midwest).

Now i'm willing to eat almost anything once, as long as i know it 
isn't spoiled or contaminated. To make sure my response isn't based 
on preconceptions, i try an item over and over, cooked various ways. 
I've eaten almost every organ except lung (not legal in the US), 
penis, womb, and udder (never seen any on a menu or in a butcher 
shop). I've tried all sorts of seafood, including unagi/Japanese 
barbecued eel (mmm-good), uni/sea urchin/ochre goo (mmm-good), 
octopus (rubbery but fun), and squid (prepared right it's good). I've 
eaten frogs (mmm-good), snails (not my fav), and snake (tastes 
like... lizard... i guess :-) I've eaten food from street vendors in 
Mexico, France, Indonesia, and Morocco. And since i never ate a worm 
as a child, i ate one as an adult.

For an SCA feast i'll do things i wouldn't do for myself, fiddly 
things like making: hundreds of pastries of homemade almond paste in 
cut strips of phyllo folded into triangles then fried; or hundreds of 
dumplings of pureed meat in wonton wrappers; cooking tongue from 
scratch - peeling it was a lot of work.

Sometimes i take short cuts: using wonton wrappers instead of making 
hundreds of dough wrappers, or phyllo instead of warqa - i think it's 
worth $2 or $3 to save hours of work. I look for reasonable 
substitutes for impossible to find, exceedingly expensive, or 
dangerous ingredients, or just leave them out.

Among things i haven't done is make candied nuts/brittle with cooked 
sugar. I finally made candied citrus peels, so i figure i'll make 
candy eventually.

Recipe deal breakers? Making very large quantities of something that requires:
- special equipment i can't afford, don't have access to, or can't manage;
- a particular place to do it that i don't have (like a back yard or balcony);
- very difficult-to-find or extremely expensive ingredients (musk, ambergris).

As for the strudel recipe in the article, i'd try to get pre-made 
strudel dough or use a substitute until i had a helper to stretch the 
dough over the work table. That way i could perfect making the 
filling and rolling strudel, before tackling the art of making a 
sheet of dough that is nearly transparent and as big as a bed sheet. 
Apparently my great-grandmother Josephine, who grew up in the 
Austro-Hungarian Empire and whom i never met, was quite a baker. I 
bet she knew how...
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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