Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Being a "Natural" and the Pioneer Woman Giveaway!

When you take on the habit of talking about food most (all) of the time, people are bound to make some assumptions. When you decide to start a website dedicated to this habit, this is a sure thing. A sure thing like dessert after dinner or lemons and eggs in the fridge.

The front-runner? "Cooking just comes so naturally to you." It's not that I can't see where that might come from. I can. I talk about it a lot and I only post the prettiest things here 90% of the time.

But let me clear this up: eating comes naturally to me. As for cooking? Well, I do love it. But more than loving it, I need it. Even when I oversalt, undercook and generally turn my kitchen into Chernobyl, I am pretty zen. It's quiet. It smells good. Having this physical process wherein I turn plants and oils and spices into something I want creates a space I can think in. And I'm a chatty girl so finding a spot above all my own noise? Priceless.

That being said, I make too many goofy mistakes day after day to be in the same sentence as natural. Take last night's dinner: Coconut Milk Chicken. This was one of those recipes I'd seen and just had to make. I defrosted my chicken well in advance thinking the opportunity would present itself. It did not.

By Wednesday, it was necessity. I started it at 9pm when I got home and sat down to eat at 11:20pm. I needed that chicken. I also needed a 5 quart Dutch oven but decided I could "make it work" with this ovular 2.5 quart. It is very good that no part of my job requires me to be a "natural" at physics because I grossly underestimated the size of the chicken vs the size of the vessel vs the volume of coconut milk. See all that chicken brimming over the top of the pot? See all that pink liquid sitting below the pot? That used to be in the pot with the chicken. Silly chicken. Silly physics. Silly TKTC.

And another thing. The really "together" cooks? The naturals? In my head their kitchens are clean. They have a full set of pots and pans and lids that match. They may have an oven and stove too young to have known life without the Food Network. They clean as they go.

I bought a bottle of wine for $3.50 at Jewel last night (Golden Gate Sauv Blanc, anyone?) then I drank a third of it while my chicken roasted. Out of a glass that was meant for milk. All my real wine glasses are dirty. I have two pots with matching tops, that is all. I did not own a wooden spoon until three weeks ago. My kitchen is a horror because I hate doing dishes. Potentially more than expense reports which is really saying something. Not so much a natural, at least not in my head.

If I could get the same zen feeling from a long run that I get cutting multi-colored carrots into little medallions, I would be super marathoner. I'd like to make more time for that part but until the balance is struck, I'll make good meals with good food and take the stairs.

I ate that chicken at almost midnight last night. And it was good. It was messy, I didn't follow the recipe to a tee and I had to use a turkey baster to clean my stovetop out but by the time I ate? I felt myself. That is the most natural thing about it.

I'm far from being the only blogger who finds herself relishing a mess in the kitchen. The Pioneer Woman, aside from being just a generally lovely person, is a home cook who just loves it. You can hear it when her drawl leaps right off the monitor. It's messy, it's got butter in it and you should just grab a spoon and enjoy it hot out of the pot. And lucky for all of us, Ree's step by step photos make for more fool-resistant recipes than most.

This woman who loves to cook (but cares not for the pretentious parts) wrote a cookbook, the Pioneer Woman: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. And that cookbook sounds like her, looks like her and my guess is that if you were to put the book in the oven at 350, it would come out tasting like tres leches cake (please don't try this). It's a good book.

And I have two copies to give away- a week before the book is officially released.

GIVEAWAY RULES Starting at midnight CST Friday October 23, and going until 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 27 entries are open to answer this question: What's your ultimate comfort food?

I'll choose the two winners with a randomizer and announce them next Wednesday. Bon Chance and Bon Appetit!


lk (Healthy Delicious) said...

I hear you on the disaster of a kitchen. I have all of the equipment, but it's almost always all dirty. Sometimes I think if people saw what my kitchen typically looks like, they would be grossed out and refuse to eat anything prepared in it.

Ultimate comfort food? That's a tough one, but lately it has to be pho. There's something about pho like like a huge bear hug from the inside. I also tend to lose my appetite when in need of comfort, but pho never seems to heavy or nauseating like other classic comfort foods can be.

Ashley said...

Oh my gosh - I've got plastic cutting boards that don't lay flat, one good knife and matching wine glasses, please...

It's not about the stuff you make it with, it's the heart and love that go's into the food. Your food is always filled with the TKTC goodness.

My ultimate comfort food - meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. Makes me think of a nice dinner at home in Plymouth on a cold night.

Joy @ BigTimeFancy said...

My ultimate comfort food?


I could do stuffed peppers every day. I could eat my grandma's pastitsio & Greek potatoes until they both came out my ears.

But in truth? I could do grilled cheese and soup (tomato, broccoli cheddar, chicken tortilla) on every single day where I feel less than 100%. That's my ultimate comfort food.

Megan said...

Comfy foods... ones that remind me of home. My dad makes homemade pizza with a Chef Boyardee mix that is so greasy from pepperoni, the crust turns a distinctive shade of orange.

Not something I would ever make for myself now, but always one of my first requests when I'm in Green Bay!

runningpointer said...

mashed potatoes. i absolutely love them.

lfar said...

Oh man, I would love this book! You're right that she does cooking without the pretentiousness.

Ultimate comfort= cheesy nachos with salsa and a huge class of diet coke. (Obviously I need to learn to cook)

Cate said...

oh man, this is like the best of all world's colliding. i love tctk AND pioneer woman! my favorite comfort food would have to be mac and cheese. i eat it rarely, but it's the one thing that makes me feel warm and fuzzy every time.

Kate, RD said...

A good turkey sandwich...on yummy bread with yummy mustard. Even an "o.k." turkey sandwich is more comforting to me than most other foods:-)

Shanti said...

"But let me clear this up: eating comes naturally to me. As for cooking? Well, I do love it. But more than loving it, I need it."
Amen. As far as the clean kitchen stuff goes...I make a complete mess and then clean up instead of doing the "oh so smart and professional clean as you go." I taste, eat, snack, as I go. There is no time for cleaning.

Comfort food: melted brie, apples & baguette. Best accompanied by beer. Or mac and cheese. Or grilled cheese. Do you see a trend here?

Anonymous said...

And I would have never guessed your kitchen equipment was easy like the rest of us. Your posts are always so passionate about the food and it makes me drool. Kuddos to you for actually cooking a bird so late at night. I would have said no way and went to bed. You are dedicated!

My comfort food? My homemade potatoe recipe I acquired from my mother she's been making since, well, forever. It involves bacon and sour cream and your thighs will hate it but your lips will love it. People who have always hated potatoe soup for it's "lack of taste" always beg for another bowl. With that some warm bread, little bit of spreadable butter, and some wine. MMMM, yummy!

We Are Not Martha said...

Um, YES to that chicken. And to think, I was sooo close to your while you were eating it. Just not close enough :(

Also, yes my kitchen is usually the same disaster, which makes taking blog photos that much harder. I am NOT a neat cook at all!

And you know my ultimate comfort food has to be mac and cheese. preferably with super sharp cheddar (gruyere doesn't hurt either) and some sort of meat. Like bacon. Or prosciutto. I love peas in my mac and cheese too!

And the Pioneer Woman is my ultimate comfort blog! So jealous you've met her :)


Bayjb said...

Whoa woman how did you score pre-released copies? My ultimate comfort food is mac and cheese. My mom always made it for us when we were kids (often with hot dogs) and even now when I'm feeling down, I reach for it. So good and tasty.

FYI: I think you will be VERY leased with tonight's post :)

Amanda Nan said...

I don't cook a lot because I tend to forget about leftovers. I also am way more busier than I'd like to be. I need to recruit someone to do the tasks I hate and to come have dinner with me, it seems!

Ultimate comfort food: southern breakfast. Eggs over easy and super runny, grits chock full of salt and butter, homemade biscuits (pre-made and frozen as couples) with homemade wild plum jelly made from my Mississippi grandmother's recipe. A tall glass of milk with Hershey's cocoa powder and you've got every third Saturday morning from the ages of 2 through 8, haha!

Verlan said...

My ultimate comfort food is cornbread. I love it with everything. My ulitmate comfort food meal would be biscuits and sausage gravy. Both are foods we ate a lot of when I was growing up in Eastern Oklahoma.

Melissa said...

Favorite comfort food? More like Favorite: Comfort Food! How do you choose one?! Pulled pork with mac and cheese. Boeuf Bourguignon. Chicken-Wild Rice Soup. Quiche, any quiche. Crepes. My college boyfriend's mother's white chicken chili. The bruschetta at PIzza Art Cafe and a big glass of red. I could keep going, here....but I won't, in the event it disqualifies me for Ree's book, because I WANT IT.

Also? The image of you cleaning your stove with a turkey baster made me snort in the middle of a sip of white wine.

RhodeyGirl said...

My ultimate comfort food would probably be pasta of any form, although I often forget it ha!

Kelly said...

For my ultimate comfort food, I would have to go with mac and cheese! The cheesier the better!

Melissa {is•ly} said...

Are the odds really this awesome?!? I just heard about this book today. I'd love to win a copy! Pioneer woman is my hero.

My favorite comfort foods would have to be (dinner) my mom's breadsticks and home made tomato soup and (breakfast) German pancakes and whipped cream.

ANG* said...

without a DOUBT...mashed potatoes and gravy. my moms, generally around the holidays. but, i've gotten pretty good at my own creamy version. YUM.

RebeccaC said...

Note to self...TKTC needs a LARGE enameled cast iron dutch oven for Xmas.

Fave comfort food: Naturally, truffled mac & cheese of course.

P.S. messy is part of the fun my dear. Very natural indeed.

Wit said...

I think I am too late as you already have 20 comments but I love your friends blog and wish her much luck on her exciting release!

the little lady said...

came across your blog on Facebook. it's great!
my favorite comfort food would have to be the following meal:
-warm bread and butter
-meatloaf with beer-battered french fries
-vanilla cake, buttercream frosting
L&L, your fellow MU KKG,

Kare said...

awesome! I loved this story.

My ultimate comfort food is macaroni and cheese. The Kraft dinner version is absolutely included in that, what can I say.

Anastatia said...

i'd have to say southern peach cobbler... mmmm. warm, and no ice cream necessary. i've recently found that alfredo from scratch is pretty divine too. i'm learning i need to take the time to cook more often. thanks for the inspiration! :)

Molls said...

Props to cooking the chicken so late at night. I thought it looked awesome, even if a little snug.

My comfort food is pancakes with real maple syrup and bacon or sausage. Reminds me of Sunday mornings before church.

Jennie said...

Ultimate Comfort Food? Easy: My Daddy's Mashed Potatoes. :)

Linda - one scoop at a time said...

My ultimate comfort food is congee otherwise known as rice porridge. I was fed it as a baby instead of jarred foods and to this day, there's nothing tastes more homey tan hot bowl of congee with a bit of ginger zest and green onion sprinkled on top.

Mary said...

Hi! Saw your tweet!

Hmmm.... I really have many, but the first thing that came to my mind just then was Chicken Pot Pie.

mary at deepsouthdish dot com

~Madeline~ said...

I really wish I was a "clean as you go cook" but I'm not and I never will be. But that's okay, at least we give it our best!

My favorite comfort foods to make at home are pot pies and stews. And of course there are those days when my kitchen is a mess and I have no choice but to order my favorite comfort take out, pizza ;)

TKTC said...

Y'all these were absolutely FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for entering and playing along...I've got some good ideas for winter I think :) I'll be running numbers through the randomizer in the morning, entries are now closed. Sleep tight and dream of Texas Sheet Cakes!