Home: a place where memories roam.
Where our heartbeats lie in stone,
With cast iron skillets and aging chrome.
The kitchen: a place our life pertains
And being gone forgoes the pains
Of watching memories flicker into flames.
I stand; I think and ponder
That there is a place, not fonder
Than the kitchen, big or small
With its memories and all.
Today is the day; my BroAppetite post is finally up. I know you all were on the edge of your seats in unrequited anticipation. Well, fret no longer, because your dreams are being realized. I and handful of incredibly talented male foodies have teamed up to bring you BroAppetite. If you don’t know quite what’s happening, then click here to catch yourself up. I almost didn’t get this post written in time. I have final exams all this week. Ugh! Why is life so hard? Let’s dive right in, shall we?
What one food defines you?
The answer to this question is soooo easy for me, pasta. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a full-blooded Italian immigrant. That makes me one-eighth Italian (maybe that’s why I’m so short? I knew my mother was to blame.) It’s no surprise that I found a natural obsession with food. There is just something so natural and satisfying about making, forming, and eating homemade pasta. Taking the journey through that culinary process speaks to me. Pasta is like human beings. We are all made from the same, simple ingredients (in this case, flour and eggs), but originality soon steams out. Using different flours, olive oils, steps, seasonings, cooking processes, etc. shows us that we all are uniquely different.
What food could you never live without?
This question is tough because I love a lot of food, and I mean A LOT of food. I would have to say Momma Crawford’s cooking as a whole. She has been my biggest inspiration and toughest critic. She has taught me that food isn’t the most important thing, but the people you are serving it to. My fondest memories are when we are both collectively cooking in the kitchen. The soundtrack from Chicago jazzing in the background as we work. There is just something wonderful about cooking with someone who shares your same love and passion for food. From homemade beef stew to tater-tot casserole (It’s addictive), her food has always given me knowledge, joy, and a full stomach.
What food has always inspired you throughout your life?
My Mother’s Bolognese sauce has always inspired me. She perfected her recipe from her mother, who got it from her mother. Momma put her Midwest-style spin on the sauce and it’s bursting with flavor, depth, and a calming sense of home. It’s rich, fragrant, and perfect on a cool spring evening, gracefully poured over a plate of freshly made pasta. It’s a joke between her and I because she never uses a recipe for her sauce. I asked her once “how much wine did you put in this the last time?” and she will reply saying “I don’t remember. I just played it by ear. I live by the motto ‘more wine is better’.” Her ability to “freestyle” cook has naturally spawned off to me. I’m a stickler for going rogue and cooking with how I feel and what ingredients speak to me. She and I are also guilty of calling it a marinara sauce. We’ve called it that for years. I recently found out that it is actually a Bolognese sauce. A Bolognese sauce has meat in it and a marinara sauce does not. See there? You learned something.
How has food impacted your life?
Food has taught me many things, but one it’s most important lessons was how to speak.
When I began cooking the summer of my freshman year of college, I saw food and life very differently. Then, at the tender age of 18, my life’s journey was just beginning. I had just graduated high school, which I can say was not one of my greatest years of living. I had memories galore, good ones and bad ones, but there was something that I couldn’t get rid of, and that was my stuttering.
Since I was five years old, I have had a stutter, which over time fluctuated from high improvements to absolute failures. I felt trapped by words. Language seemed to suffocate me, tie me down and paralyze me physically and emotionally. I cared so much about how “perfect” I spoke on a particular day. I would base my overall happiness and well-being on if I said every little word perfectly, or what I deemed as perfect. I felt unhappy with myself, and I was afraid for the future. What was I going to do with my life? What career would ever take a stutterer like me? Will I ever find true happiness within myself?
I hadn’t prepared myself for what food was about to do to me. I fell fast and hard in love with the art of cooking. Learning to cook and engrossing myself into a world of culinary nuances and experiences, I saw not only food differently, but life itself. I found myself dancing through a world that made me feel whole, made me feel joyous and confident. Every day I find inspiration for the smallest, unlikely of places. I learn as I cook, growing a little with each passing recipe, success or fail. Food taught me that we don’t have to be perfect; we only can strive satisfaction within ourselves.
What are your thoughts on the different sexes being in the kitchen?
I love it. I think it’s vitally important for both of the genders to be comfortable in the kitchen. Why can’t men love cars and baking? Why couldn’t women obsess about hunting and know the process of making a soufflé?
Do think that some food is socially categorized per gender (i.e. Girl food vs. Man food)?
I remembered having this exact discussion with Momma Crawford a few weeks ago. I was reading up on Ree Drummond’s blog, and she has a recipe section called “Cowboy Food.” This idea of “Man food” and “Girl food” got me thinking about the way we as a society view the sexes and food. Is it natural for a man to prefer meat over a salad? Can women eat a triple cheeseburger without being judged about her waistline? The way that we as a society view the sexes, body imagine, and the food speaks a lot on the viewpoints towards gender and equality. I would love to do some academic research on this and maybe write an article on it. Maybe one day.
Why should all men learn to cook/bake?
Men should learn to cook because it’s essential! Food is a necessity in life. The more you understand how food works, where it comes from, and how to prepare it, the awarer you will become of what you’re serving you and your family.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of cooking/baking as a man?
I know there is a running sigma of sorts that “women belong in the kitchen”. I have unfortunately heard multiple guys on different occasion say this phrase with the most honest, degrading intent, but it’s 2015 people.
Hope you all enjoyed this post. I had a lot of fun working with these amazing guys. If you haven’t yet, go and check out all of their blogs below. I will see you next week after final exams are over!
Jim from Whatscookingwithjim.com
Kevin from keviniscooking.com
Momma Crawford’s Bolognese Sauce with Home Rolled Fettuccini Pasta
For the Bolognese Sauce
2 lbs. Italian Sausage
Two cans Tomato Sauce (15 oz.)
Two cans Tomato Paste
1 cup Elderberry wine or any red wine
2-3 tablespoons Milk or Heavy Cream
Four tablespoons Garlic Powder
Three tablespoons Salt
2-3 tablespoons dried seasonings (Ie. Oregano, Lemon Thyme, Savory, and Rosemary)
Two tablespoons Basil
One tablespoon Parsley
One tablespoon Pepper
Dash of Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan
For the Homemade Pasta
3 ½ cups Flour
Four large eggs
Two tablespoons water
Infused Olive oil, optional
Pre-Step: Turn on some upbeat French music and get rolling some pasta.
Step One: In a large Dutch oven, cook the Italian sausage on medium heat until browned and cooked through fully. Deglaze the pan by adding red wine. Cook until the wine reduces slightly. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook until the sauce begins to bubble slightly and start the thickening process. Add the milk and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Stir in the seasonings and take off the heat. Optional step is to grind the dried seasonings using a mortar and pestle. Serve immediately.
Step Two: To make the pasta, add the flour to a large bowl. Many chefs typically use a large cutting board, but I don’t like that mess. I find a bowl is easier and makes for a more minimal pickup. Make a well in the middle of the dough. Add the four eggs. Using a fork, beat the eggs together with the flour, incorporating the flour slowly. About halfway through, add in water and olive oil, only one tablespoon at a time.
Step Three: Once the dough begins to form, transfer it to a floured cutting board surface and knead for 5-7 minutes or until all the flour is combined. Add small increments of water/olive oil if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This process will allow the gluten in the dough to relax and make the dough more pliable.
Step Four: After the dough has rested, divide it in half. On a floured surface, roll out the dough thick enough that you can see a bold silhouette of your hand when you hold it up towards the light. This process is all about gauging and using your preferred judgment. Fold the dough into fourths and cut thin slips, starting from left to right.
Step Five: Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water. Fun Fact: The salt in the water makes it, so the pasta doesn’t stick during the cooking process. Cook until al dente (or to your preferred texture) about 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. Serve immediately.