She’s so good lookin’ when she is cookin’

A while ago I bought one of those do-thingies – actually, I think they’re called docking stations – for my iPhone, which now enables me to listen to Pandora when I’m in the kitchen.

So, while I’m mixing or kneading or frying or frosting or sprinkling or sauteing, I can also enjoy some great music, which makes cooking even more fun. I have several Pandora channels, but the one that seems most conducive to cooking – at least to me – is the Ray Charles channel.

There’s something so empowering about listening to Aretha Franklin while making dinner:

And there’s something so fun about listening to Harry Belafonte jumping in the line, or Sam Cooke twistin’ the night away or Rosemary Clooney doing the mambo Italiano.

But, as much as I love to cook while Sam Cooke and Ray Charles and Otis Redding and Nina Simone and Marvin Gaye sing, I have found the ultimate song to cook to. Truly, the best song. It made me laugh out loud. with lines like, “She’s so good lookin’ when she is cookin’. What a beautiful sight among the pots and pans.”

This gem comes from Lou Monte:

What do you listen to in the kitchen?

Are you in a food rut? Try this chicken dish.

I hate that place, but we all get there. We come home from work, stand in front of the refrigerator and think or say, “What the hell am I going to make for dinner?”

As much as I love to cook, I find myself rutted occasionally, particularly when I’m trying to find something delicious to make on a weeknight that won’t take forever to cook. (I’m usually ravenous by the time I get home, so I don’t want to wait until 8 o’clock to eat.)

And magically, the Food Gods parted the clouds, and I found a great recipe from Food Lust People Love blog: Pan-fried chicken with bacon and asparagus.

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It was perfect for dinner because:

  • It was de-freakin’-licious.
  • My husband loved it, too.
  • It didn’t take long to make.
  • It was easy to prepare. I could have done it with one hand tied behind my back.
  • It didn’t require funky ingredients that I don’t normally have in my kitchen.
  • There was bacon (I heart bacon) in it.

Recipe full disclosure: My husband doesn’t like olives, so I left them out.

If you try it, let me know how it turned out for you.

It’s the best cake ever – that’s what he said

Last month, my husband — He Who Must Be Fed — spent a week out of town for work. I missed him, so I wanted to have a special treat waiting for him when he got home to show him how much. After cooking for him for almost 28 years (doesn’t that mean I get some sort of prize?) I have a good idea of what he’ll like and what he won’t.

When my friend, Paul, posted on Facebook  a recipe for pumpkin dream cake with pumpkin spice brown butter frosting, I knew I had found the recipe (because my husband’s middle name is Brown Butter).

He was barely in the door before I presented him with The Cake. GreatCakePhoto

Now, remember when I wrote that I have been cooking for him for almost 28 years? Well, my friend, that means a lot of cake has passed through my hands and into his face.

But when he tried this one, he said, and I’m cleaning up his language, “That’s the best (%$#*&) cake you’ve ever made me.”

Best. Cake. Ever. Yep, that’s what he said.

Try it yourself, and let me know how it turned out.

Recipe full disclosure: I only put the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes, and it turned out just fine.

Aaryn’s chocolate cake

When my friend Anne’s mother died in June, I wanted to make her something. I wanted her to know I was thinking about her and feeling her sadness, at least as much as I could without being her actual sister. So, I made her this super-rich chocolate cake, which just about everyone I know likes.

When I took it to her house, some of her family had already arrived, including her nephew, Aaryn, whom I had never met and who paid me no never mind. (I’m a grownup after all.) However, after I left, he dug into that cake. As it turned out, Aaryn loved it so much I’m not sure how much of it he shared with his brother or mother or dad or Anne.

Aaryn and I started out as strangers, but because of that cake, we now had a food bond. And I strengthened that food bond when I told Aaryn I’d make him another cake the next time he was in town, which I did. This time, when I showed up at Anne’s house with cake, Aaryn was a little less shy. In fact, he anxiously greeted me on the front porch, a big smile on his face.

That first cake didn’t ease Anne or Aaryn’s pain of losing their mother and grandmother, but it did show them that someone (me) cared. That second cake just sealed the deal.

Recipe full disclosure: Each time I’ve made this, I haven’t added the walnuts.