Blogger’s Note: The whole idea behind these “Second Third” posts can be found here.
I like to cook because I like to eat. Even at an early age, I was somewhat particular about how things were made — for example, my dad taught be to put butter or margarine on a PB&J sandwich, because it makes the PB a little easier to swallow. To this day, one slice of bread gets a thin layer of butter, followed by a thick layer of crunchy peanut butter (none of that creamy nonsense), while the other gets plenty of jelly (strawberry preferably). The butter definitely helps ease the stickiness of the peanut butter, and the taste is exquisite (because it’s butter…naturally). I can eat three on an empty stomach, but Brendan insists one is plenty. Washed down with milk (or chocolate milk!) = heavenly!
The first thing I learned to cook for real was French toast, because I loved to eat it, and Mom didn’t want to make it. She showed me once. Once early on I made the mistake of cooking an entire batch using Dad’s rye bread (awful idea) — but otherwise, it’s only gotten better. Jim’s Casserole: noodles, sausage, cream of mushroom soup, cream corn, and as much shredded cheddar as you can melt. Old Lamplighter Chili: winner of work contests and bragging rights. I made Jodi a pineapple upside-down cake for her birthday. I used to even bake bread…from scratch.
In recent years, however, I’ve stagnated a bit…and while several of the foods described above aren’t particularly healthy-sounding, they are possibly better than the processed and preserved stuff we eat otherwise. In my Second Third, I intend for my garden to grow in size and scope. I hope to hunt and fish more, and more successfully. And I hope to take up and master new cooking activities. For example, Dad has given my two sourdough cookbooks. I love sourdough bread, and I’m intrigued by the living alchemy involved. Similarly, a friend of mine brews beer, and our first batch turned out pretty solid. Let’s do that!
But the biggest challenge — and a gift to both me and my wife — is posed by the two or three Asian cookbooks atop the pantry in the kitchen. Jodi and I love Thai and Chinese food, especially. If I can master a few key recipes — sesame chicken, drunken noodles, pork fried rice, Singapore noodles — I think our family would eat little else. Except maybe Jodi’s lasagna and mostaccioli. And breakfast burritos. Oh! and oven-fried chicken! And…