|Cooking Off the Cuff
I'VE BEEN in high-gear Grandma-mode for the past week. In between cooing into our newborn grandson's beautiful little angel face, I've been super-busy planning meals, grocery shopping, and cooking lunch and dinner every day for our daughter (the new Mom) and her family.
The other day, thinking about how I would turn eight boneless and skinless chicken thighs into dinner, it occurred to me that my everyday cooking is typically "off the cuff." If I'm not "working" on recipes for an assignment, I rarely if ever open a cookbook or whip out measuring cups and spoons. Instead, I rely on instinct.
Many cooks use the same intuitive power. I'm not sure where it comes from, but it sure comes in handy.
Inspired by an exotic brand of curry powder I found tucked away in my daughter's spice cabinet, I marinated the chicken in a mixture of yogurt, curry powder, fresh ginger, garlic and lime juice. With no written recipe to follow, I eyeballed amounts, putting my "off the cuff" talent to the test. This time it was successful.
After about 2 hours marinating time, I carefully threaded the chicken on skewers. My son-in-law — who just happens to be a chef, but is happy to let me take over the kitchen when I'm visiting — grilled them to perfection.
I served the thighs with a simple brown rice pilaf and a warm green bean salad with mint and red onion.
The next evening, I put my instincts to the test once again. With the leftover rice, chicken and beans, I concocted a mean fried rice. Using a stir-fry skillet, I heated a small pool of vegetable oil, chopped garlic and fresh ginger until sizzling. Then I beat an egg into the oil. When the egg set, I dumped in the cold rice and the chicken that I had cut into smaller pieces, the beans, and some crisp-cooked broccoli florets and sliced carrots. The stir-fry was finished with a hearty swig of tamari and once again — somehow — an "off the cuff" meal was on the table. Whew!