I stand before you with my head held down and lemon chicken grease smeared all over my face. I am here to apologize, to strike my breast thrice in mea culpa for past sins.
A year or two ago, I made light of a famous TV chef on this very blog. I scoffed at his convoluted Halloween treats. Little did I know the ways of the famous and insecure.
They google themselves and then leave "Aha!" comments with regard to disparaging remarks in the hopes it will leave the blogger with the flop sweats.
Anyway, I refuse to name his name (rhymes with Fiorella) cause this post is not about him. Rather it is about the other part in the post where I called Nigella a sexy twit.
I don't know why I did it at the time. It was a cheap shot. I'm not even sure I'd seen any of her shows. I was only familiar with her through her weekly New York Times column and wasn't overly impressed. Her hype was that she was so sexy and I pictured a different sort of siren. Plus, I was mad she'd bumped Giada till later in the morning.
And now, well, what can I say? Not only am I sure that Mr. Pom would dump me in a hot souffle minute if she showed up at our door in apron and heels, I'm pretty sure I'd let him so long as I could stay in the guest room and come out for meals.
Is it the plummy vowels, the dark, lustrous hair, the wide grin, or the charming slovenliness of eating leftovers with her fingers with the refrigerator door open.
I thought only I did that.
On Sunday mornings, we used to read The Times and watch CBS Sunday Morning in bed with coffee and then jump up at 10:30 and get on with our day. Now, the day cannot begin properly until 11:00, after Nigella has seduced us with some chocolate cake and caramelized onions for a party with her friends or Sunday lunch with the kids. No matter where we are in the house, no matter what we're doing - laundry, groceries, yelling at children to get up for Mass - we drop it and run to a TV To Put On Nigella.
And then the madness begins. I make it as far as the first commercial and I'm in the kitchen surveying the cabinets to see if we have the ingredients for couscous with ginger, raisins, and molasses. Do we have egg whites for Floating Clouds? Why didn't I buy leeks?? Can I defrost an entire chicken by lunch by submerging it in hot water (yuck!)? Do I have the ingredients for a peach tart with zabaglione? Why don't we have friends for Sunday lunch? Why don't we ever cook Sunday lunch and cold cuts and bagels don't count! And where are the Christmas lights because I must hang some white ones in my kitchen before I can cook anything!
One of the Border stores near us was going out of business and having a 40% sale. I took advantage to stock up on some new cookbooks. I had never looked through any Nigella cookbooks and I couldn't decide between Nigella Bites, Nigella Express, or How to Eat. I really wanted How to Become a Domestic Goddess, but then I saw it was practically all desserts and thought, yeah, probably not a wise choice for someone who had her insides surgically rearranged to have a new cookbook full of recipes like Raspberry Fool and Decadent Chocolate Cake.
Mr. Pom just kept picking whatever cookbook had her looking the youngest and prettiest. I had to smack him away and send him back to the Civil War section where the only thing that could turn him on was mouldering gossip about General Grant.
Now the thing is, I have many cookbooks. Yet, I rarely cook a recipe from them. My technique is to read through the cookbook, assimilate the general idea of a recipe, go into the kitchen and modify it with whatever we have on hand, and then end up making the same dishes week in and week out. Sick. To. Death. Of. My. Cooking. And. No. One. Else. Wants. To. Take. Up. The. Spatula.
But on Friday, I picked up How To Eat and decided to make Lemon Chicken - in the chapter entitled something like, Sunday Lunch with a Little More Fuss. Yes! That's what I wanted: a proper Sunday lunch with a little pizzazz. Of course, we didn't have it for lunch because we had lunch at the diner with The Empress, but I did make it. It's supposed to be accompanied by a custardy lemon sauce, but we can do without a sauce that is made with three eggs and cream. It was delightful! Even Mr. Pom liked it and he doesn't like any chicken that isn't dark meat smothered in barbecue sauce! And the girls ate capers!
I had the bright idea to throw in some fingerling potatoes on top of the chicken and they cooked divinely in my Le Cruseut pot in the oven. And we had grilled asparagus to accompany it.
Whilst I was deep in browning chicken with the skin on, I was under strict orders to save the fat because The Teen had one of those bizarro assignments that some English teacher thinks will make a novel come alive - she had to make a recipe from from the book, "Fried Green Tomatoes".
The only thing was that she had to make "Milk Gravy", which sounds just disgusting enough to make us all glad we left the south. Milk Gravy is that gelatinous white glop that is served on biscuits, as in Biscuits N' Gravy at Crackerbarrel. Really hate the stuff though the kids have inherited Mr. Pom's southern tastebuds and think it is great.
Now don't go writing to tell me how your granmammy used to save up the lard from all the pigs she'd rendered and make crackling and milk gravy and how y'all almost died as babies until she rubbed some on the nipple...of a bottle...and then you could suck.
Both The Teen and I were equally revulsed and pissed that she was the last one picked and that she got stuck with the Milk Gravy when we could have made my killer cheddar garlic grits or Mr. Pom's biscuits.
I don't know what I was thinking by not running for the camera, let's just say that the recipe's ratio of one tablespoon of flour per tablespoon of chicken renderings ended up making a paste that we could have used to glue down the loose linoleum under the dishwasher. Then we ran out of milk when the 1.5 cups in the recipe was swallowed up by the roux like a dog with a bone. It ended up taking 4 cups of milk and a cup of chicken broth to get it anywhere near the consistency of gravy. Tasteless, white gravy.
Good luck to The Teen in trying to microwave it in class. Best thing that could happen is that the person who is bringing the fried chicken forgets!
In any event, a day made richer in many ways by the rendering of chicken fat. As Martha would say, It's a Good Thing.