Back to basics

Lisa Paine — Sports Editor

Lisa Paine — Sports Editor

Do you love to cook? I do. With all but the North Branch volleyball team eliminated from the fall postseason in our coverage areas, I have some extra time on my hands at night now. Whoohooo! It’s a short-lived respite, but a welcome one, nonetheless.

The kitchen smells so good, with butternut squash baking in the oven, homemade applesauce simmering on the stove and a fresh batch of spaghetti sauce bubbles away on low. Now, this is living. I love the fall season for no other reason than what nature offers. Another weeknight found all four burners fully in use, with Bare Naked granola, one of the best items on earth in my opinion, browning away in the oven on an apple crisp, while on the shelf above, acorn squash was browning nicely with pools of sweetness bubbling away. On the stove, zucchini, carrots, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and pineapple were melding with a sweet and sour sauce that was to be poured over rice.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, another favorite will fill area kitchens as pies are baked. I love baking, almost as much as cooking. I feel sorry for people who say they can’t cook. They are missing so much!! I’m so thankful that my grandmothers were good cooks and my own parents taught us how to make all kinds of tasty meals as children. When we couldn’t reach the counter, a stool, an apron and safe utensils were our first tools of the trade. Homemade breads and baked goods, many specialty ones that only appear in the final two months of the year, sent heaven-sent smells throughout the kitchen. And, we were allowed to eat the raw cookie dough! Egads, some say. That’s a death wish. No more than the gum I swallowed as a child that horrified my grandmother.

Cooking is a sport to some, with competitions as to who makes the best barbecue sauce, cheesy potatoes, lasagna and more. In my world, pi are NOT squared, but best served round in a chocolate crust or with a huge scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Math was a big turnoff for me and a lot of that is owed to a particular sadistic calculus teacher, who found fun in revealing test scores out loud from worst to best. Nice! He’s the main reason I went into the creative arts and writing. Writing is something I always enjoyed, even back in elementary school when I entered the yearly book-writing contest. I even crafted a really cool cover that was a denim tennis shoes, complete with working laces. The topic was something about flying tennis shoes and lawn mowing, as I recall.

When I dropped calculus, much to the dismay of the sadistic instructor, I was introduced to the world of watercolors, oil-based and tempera paints, silk screening, photography and pen and ink techniques. Let me tell you, that was a lot more fun than unions, subsets and all those formulas I could never get right. HATED math; still do to this day. In college, I even converted my brother’s bathroom in to a workable darkroom and reveled in the fun of the chemicals and reeling my own film for development. Hey, you leave the house for college and everything left behind is fair game.

Uh, oh. Time to run. The timer just went off. Until the puck drops and tip-offs begin, I’m having a sporting good time in the kitchen.

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