Do You Translate Well?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good 'ole home cooking anywhere!My entry drug into the world of art making was my time spent with making ceramics. In particular, I yearned to take control of my entire pottery making situation: from firing my work, to making the glazes that adorn the outside of ceramics. The world of glaze making and ceramics in general is often categoriezed as being similar to cooking- there is the following of recipes, the prescribed application of heat in an oven of sorts, and the joy that an inate understanding of the ingredients can bring to the process.

One issue with the world of ceramics that may be applicable to cooking is the question of translation. If you were to pick up your art making studio and relocate it in a different part of the world, would your art making practice translate well or more specifically, would you find the same minerals and chemicals to make the colors you expect? Interestingly enough in this modern world, such relocations often yield unpredictable results to ceramic art makers.

The same issue can be asked of those with a passion for cooking. How does your cooking style translate?

Haverchuk passed on this question to ponder: what essential items do you need when cooking in someone else’s kitchen?

This past Thanksgiving season I was able to dissect out my answer to this translation question. Thursday was spent at my Mothers being taken care of, while on Friday I joined Judah and a bevy of happy souls, all clammoring for turkey at a second turkey fest.

When reapplying my cooking to another’s household I find my essential items falling into two short categories: food stuffs I need, and equipment I want in hand.

For food stuffs, two main players come to the top of my list of needs: kosher salt and garlic flavored vinegar. My fingers intimately know the form of a pinch and how flakes of kosher salt fit between my thumb and finger. This last year of my cooking has impressed on me the amazing effect that proper seasoning can have on your food. Ahhh, and there is the rub: what is the proper amount? When in a kitchen without a salt bowl, my fingers tend to twitch. I can’t see how much to dispense with invisible salt shakers! My garlic flavored vinegar has rocked my culinary world. Having garlic flavor in a liquid form offers a perfect solution to how to adjust the flavoring at the end of the meal prep time- when no more cooking time can be afforded. Just like the addition of salt, a judical application of vinegar can turn your meal’s flavor knob up to 11.

In the equipment department, I find I am largely adaptable. However, for Thanksgiving tasks, I had to have, my digital thermometer probe. Having good knives and nice heavy cast iron are good too!

What do you need most when in another’s kitchen? Does your inner control freak flag fly high? Or are you a savy iron chef who rolls with the punches?

4 Comments

posted December 14th, 2005 at 10:37 am

A decent knife, first and foremost. But my latest discovery, cooking at my mom’s house, was how important a proper pot is. Which means “pots,” because you need a variety of sizes.
I’ve never seen garlic vinegar! What’s the brand name?

  • I’ve almost always cut myself when handling other people’s knives :( I think I’m that much in tune with the weight and balance of my knives?

    The garlic vinegar I use is made by a local woman (who unfortuantley is not operating at her usuall market spots now!). We have a couple other local purveyers of flavoredvinegars. One who can be found at our winter famers market is ‘Tis Tasty. They also make flavored mustards that are amazing in their range.

    –McAuliflower

posted December 16th, 2005 at 3:54 am

After being cajoled into cooking breakfast at a friend’s house, I realized that I missed my big 12″ non-stick skillet for eggs and my 12″ cast iron for bacon. And my knives too – nothing worse than dull blades!

Spices? As long as they have a basic range of dried stuff that is fairly fresh and some fresh garlic, I am good to go.

I like the thought of garlic vinegar – I can think of about a half dozen dishes that would be instantly improved by it.

posted December 16th, 2005 at 9:33 am

Rosie: I sure do agree about the wide skillets!
McAuliflower: Well, duh, guess what just occurred to me? I can jolly well flip a clove of garlic into a bottle of rice vinegar! Bink!

posted December 17th, 2005 at 3:33 pm

The other house where I am most likely to cook has a lovely Viking range, freshly sharpened knives, and a small herb garden so it doesn’t suck. *grin* Plus, since it’s at a friend’s B&B there are all sorts of goodies lying around. And live music.

It’s almost like my own personal sub rosa…

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