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Caregiver's Guide to Casual Cookery

by David Westheimer

 

My wife, Dody, would have written this but she doesnt type. So the least I could do is do it for her. If I didnt, I wouldnt eat.

Although, as Ive tattled before on these premises, Dody has long since proclaimed she is all cooked out, when she sees that pleading, hungry look in my eyes she knows what I crave and rather than slip into something filmy (hey, 80... can do filmy) she heads for the microwave oven or her George Foreman grill (this is not an advertisement; George, a fellow Houstonian, does not need outside PR), where she can strut her stuff with one hand tied behind her. Here are some of her recipes, which even the culinary-challenged may follow:

Asparagus (Works with broccoli and other vegetables, too):
Cut off tough bottoms and wash spears. Place in a bowl with a little water and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave one end opened at one corner. Cook on High for 3 or 4 minutes, depending on how many spears you are cooking. Drain the water off. If you want to eat warm, add butter. If you want cold, sprinkle with Italian dressing and marinate in refrigerator.

Great for snacks if chocolate makes you feel guilty.

Succotash:
Zap baby limas in enough water to cover 4-5 minutes. Drain and add can of drained kernel corn and butter and zap another 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cornbread is good with this but you need a regular oven to bake it. Using mix is okay.

George Foreman Grilled
You can do steak, flattened chicken breasts, pork loin or fish au natural, or can baste or marinate before grilling if you feel adventurous. Soy sauce, steak sauce, barbecue sauce.

Say you have skinless chicken breasts. Baste with soy and grill a while.

And in the words of Danny Kaye in a cooking sketch he once did on TV, If you cant get a chicken use a fish. Salt and pepper to taste. With fish store-bought tartar sauce is good. Or maybe just a squeeze of lime or lemon would be nice.

Remoulade would be good if you could find the right stuff. Anywhere but in Louisiana and some places in Texas it doesnt taste like the real thing.

A ham and cheese sandwich on a roll becomes something special when Georged. And simple, too. Put ham and cheese slices in a split roll and zap a while. Dr. Pepper goes well with it. Any vintage.

One of my personal favorites doesnt require any kitchen machinery except a toaster oven to toast the almond slivers.

Chinese Chicken Salad
Mixed baby greens (Dody buys them packaged at the market); baby spinach is good, too; hunks of chicken breast (Dody buys whole cooked chickens and skins and dissects them), green onions, slivered almonds and bottled Chinese chicken salad dressing (Dody gets hers at a place called Trader Joes). Cut up chicken and other stuff, slather with dressing, toss and sprinkle on the almond slivers. Garlic toast goes good with it.

While you have the toaster oven out, you could make a Dody quesadilla.

Toast a flour or corn tortilla with one or two low-fat packaged Cheddar cheese slices until the cheese melts, add store-bought pico de gallo (a salsa of chopped tomatos, onions and spices), fold and hand-eat. Be careful not to let melted cheese drip out of end onto your lap.

You need a regular kitchen range with an oven for her other specialty.

Pecan Pie (Remember Meg Ryan saying "Pecan Pie" in When Harry Met Sally?)
Dody used to make her crusts out of crushed graham crackers but now shes become expert at finding them frozen in the market. Defrost 9-inch crust, line with pecan halves. For filling, beat up four eggs, add a cup of brown sugar, 3/4 cup of dark Karo syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt (if youre not on a salt-free diet), 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Top with more pecan halves and bake in a 400% oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375% and bake 35 minutes longer.

Chocolate ice cream on top is good.

Dodys key to casual cookery: If you can find ingredients ready-made, buy em.

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