Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kitchen Stories

My brother Paul has been gone 8 years today.  I think about him every day, but on this day every year I tend to get a bit more melancholy.  About a week and a half ago, I was baking a cake for our family Hanukkah get-together.  The cake was our mother's famous sour cream coffee cake.  Always a hit.  As I remember this recipe, and all the times that mom made it, I was thinking about Paul and his creative side in the kitchen.  He was like me in the kitchen.  More of a Chemist than a Cook.

There were the good things.  The chocolate chip pancakes, The famous pizza omelette (he had a special "Uncle Buck" frying pan for that one), the cakes, ohhh the cakes.  He made special decorated cakes for special occasions like Lee's thirtieth birthday party.  Then there were the not so good things.  Chocolate scrambled eggs rises to the top of the list I think.  Words cannot describe this.  One of my favorite kitchen faux pas had to be the caramel.
Mom and dad were not around.  Paul had been left in charge of me, and was spending time in the kitchen creating something.  I was in my room, not paying attention, until I began to hear banging, and noticed a burnt-sugar smell.  As I went into the kitchen to see what was going on I saw Paul, chipping away at something that was hardened on the stove.

Image credit: thehomelook.blogspot.com
He had consulted a few cookbooks, and was trying to make caramel candy.  Everything was going fine until he poured the caramel into a plastic container to let it cool.  The container stretched, and broke.  The caramel, which was more at a hard-candy stage at that point instantly cooled and solidified on the stainless steel stove.  He was whacking away at it with a knife handle to get it all off.

For each story like this, I have so many more memories of going to his place to share a meal of home made ribs, sukiyaki, and so much more.  If you can hear me Paul, hear this:  I have carried on the torch.  Jill, and the kids can verify that I have definitely taken over mad scientist duties in the kitchen.  Chances are that you know this.  Take care, and try not to laugh too hard when I burn things.

Your Brother,
Neil

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