Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Take a hint

I was talking to a lady the other day who has the daunting task of cooking for a family which includes two daughters who must live gluten-free. She said she often finds innovative ways to prepare tasty meals that involve no wheat, barley or rye. Always one to pick the brain of someone smarter than I (and they ain't too hard to find, I'll tell you that right now!), I asked her for a favorite recipe.

"I take an eggplant, slice it thin, long-ways, and use those slices instead of noodles to make lasagna," she said. Sounds great
to me. I skillfully probed the matter more deeply, as the conversation took a culinary turn. Turns out, you don't pre-cook the eggplant or anything, which is bound to be a real plus for anyone whose hands have ever made the plunge into a tub o' boiled water to pull out boiled lasagna noodles. Just layer sauce, cheese, whatever else 'twixt the eggplant slices and bake to a golden turn.

I enjoy reading those newspaper columns in which chefs give the little secrets of the trade: "Sauce too runny? Add some corn starch!" "For extra-crispy fried chicken, try using crumbled corn flakes as a breading" and "try a teaspoonful of honey instead of sugar in your iced tea for a refreshing summer lift" are examples I just made up.

But our local paper doesn't seem to carry the "Hints from Heloise" column, in which someone named Heloise would share, well, hints ("Put a couple of drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil on a cool light bulb to help repel bugs") and people would send in questions ("How can I get my canary to whistle "Yankee Doodle Dandy"?) or their own hints. That was always the part I liked. I used to imagine old Uncle Joe puttering around the house, asking Mildred where he could find a notepad, pencil, envelope and stamp, so that he could send in his hint. "Dear Heloise, It seems that every time I was on the phone I would need to write down a phone number or an address, so what I did, I started keeping a pad and a pencil in the drawer of the little table where the one phone in the hallway sits. (signed) Uncle Joe, Hooterville."

Good to know!

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