Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aunt Mindy's Cooking House of Danger

I had this great idea. Cale and Ramona, my niece and nephew, were going to be spending Sunday night at our house, and I thought of something fun for all of us to do on Monday. We were going to COOK.

Both Jeff and Cale are always watching cooking shows on The Food Network, and they both received a video game for their Nintendo DS called "Cooking Personal Trainer." It walks you through each step of a recipe with detailed instructions, and you can interact with it through voice commands. Brilliant! Since of course I know nothing about cooking this seemed like a way we could all learn together.

I drove all the kids and the game to Meijer where we picked out and purchased the items we would need. We even bought a pan. We had to double the recipe, so the kids got to practice their math skills! They had selected Chicken Chillindrone which is from Spain. (Sneaking in some Geography here too)

As soon as we got home the kids divvied up the peppers, onions, garlic, and ham that needed to be cut up. Then Jeff handed out cutting boards and knives. They enthusiastically chopped away and were very careful about avoiding their fingers. They were less careful about setting the knives down hanging over the edge of the counter, or walking to the sink while swinging them around. Luckily there was no blood but there were a lot of tears from those onions.

The program said that the recipe would take 35 minutes to prepare, and even times the steps for you. I had the kids calculate back when they would need to start the cooking in order to have it ready to serve when Mary Beth came at 5:30. (Time management!)

It told us to use chicken legs with the bones still in, and to cut it up into pieces. What size pieces? We squinted at the picture but it just looked like thighs and drumsticks to me, which is how we bought them. I remembered how my mom always talks about the germs on Chicken, and washes it. So I had Cale do that, and then wash his hands.

It said to cook the chicken in some oil until it was brown on one side. Cale put the chicken pieces in the pan but they didn't fit, so we added another pan to the stove. They started to hiss and pop and spray oil all over the place. The kids got scared because it hurt when it went on their arms. The chicken did not turn brown in the ten minutes that the game told us to cook it before turning over, so they had to keep yelling "repeat"into the screen to keep it going.

Ramona was safely in the other room, ironing the tablecloth.

The next step was to create a white wine reduction sauce. They all wanted to know if this would make them drunk. The game didn't say but I told them that I didn't think so as Jeff poured in the Chardonnay. Mary Beth arrived and the meal was nowhere near complete. It was time to add the vegetables but when they did that it sputtered and Jeff got a little burned on his arm. He gave me the onions to put in and as I did that some oil splattered onto my hand, I screamed and dumped the onions all over the floor.

We scrambled all around trying to clean up the mess and get the rest of the steps completed.

An hour and a half later than we had estimated, Ramona lit the candles on the table and we enjoyed the meal. Cale noted that it took only minutes to consume yet hours to prepare.

The next day I was talking to my mother and I asked her about washing the chicken. She said that she always washes and then dries the meats, otherwise the water will make the oil spatter all over. And there's the lesson that I learned from this experiment. A computerized program can be very good at telling you what to do and when to do it, but it would take a person to look at what you are doing wrong and tell you not to do it. Lesson served!


Aunt Kathy said...

This was entertaining to read about! As a new bride long ago I knew zip about cooking and suffered many burns. Now, if I have to brown anything I reach for a non-stick pan, spray with Pam and use minimal additional oil. I also enlist either my spagetti tongs or the barbeque tongs! Don't give up, cooking can be so much fun!

Anonymous said...

This undertaking was even more heroic (cooking with the "help" of four children is heroic) since you also had made a donumatic breakfast! Ramona is looking for a picture of the donut breakfast by the way (?). Anyway, the chicken was really good and I think it was a great activity for all.
Mary Beth

~Amy said...

Santa brought this game to me & Spencer! We haven't made anything yet but when we do I'll make sure to dry the meat !! :)

Mindy said...

Amy, I'm sure that you're coming to it with more experience, so I think you'll like the game. I would suggest starting with a recipe labeled "easy" to get used to how it works. Like we should have done.