Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Cooking is all in the magic

Wick's World


I love to cook, I love creativity and I love spontaneity. If this sounds like the ingredients for disaster, yesterday the proof was in the pudding. The day began with one of those rare moments in time when my calendar was empty, my slate was wiped clean and my kitchen was too sanitary to appear lived in. It was ready for the aftermath of a hurricane I leave in the wake of food preparation.

In honor of my wife’s first perfect loaf of baked bread, my day was dedicated to cooking. If she could make a round, crispy crusted artisan loaf of bread, so could I. She stumbled across an article by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. who recently wrote the best-seller “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.”

The author and my wife were right and I wanted to be right, too. You really can make fresh, healthy bread utilizing only five minutes of your labor. The added bonus to this recipe is there was no need to knead. Incredible, you say. How did you do that? I say buy the book. It’s easier than me telling you how.

I’d rather show you a sample of my kitchen behavior. Having finished the artisan bread loaf with minimal damage to the kitchen, I moved on to matzo ball soup. Again, another simple recipe with little mess involved.

Things went south the moment I attempted the challenging banana coconut ginger pecan bread loaf.

It is rather important to have all of the ingredients in their correct proportions before attempting complex recipes such as this. I have never been one to follow a recipe, even if I have all of the ingredients at hand, which I didn’t. I needed three bananas and only had two, so I thought I would improvise by using three eggs instead of the two that were called for. I only had unsweetened coconut flakes, while the recipe called for sweetened. I simply added extra brown sugar. I was out of pecans, so I substituted cashews. There was no butter in the house so I replaced it with an olive spread. The substitutions were in place.

The recipe called for slowly mixing all of the ingredients with a fork. Being the impatient cook I am, I used the blender and then began pouring the thick mixture into the baking pan. I returned the ingredients to the fridge and cupboard, and wiped the counters when I noticed three eggs sitting on the stove top.

I dumped all of the ingredients back into the mixing bowl and decided I better take inventory. I also left out the caramelized ginger, so I simply replaced it with a couple of tablespoons of powdered ginger. The caramelized ginger was supposed to be sweet, so I added another half cup of sugar to put the sweetness back in balance — or close enough anyway.

After blending the eggs and ginger powder into the mix, I confidently poured the contents into the bread pan, although not without some lingering doubts. The artisan bread and matzo ball soup were big successes, so even if I screwed this one up, I thought, “What the heck? Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Realizing my oven temperature ran about 10 degrees cooler than the thermometer indicated, I knew I would have to adjust. Moments before opening the oven to remove my culinary delight, I realized I forgot to make the temperature adjustment. No problem, I thought. I’ll simply let it bake for another 15 minutes to compensate for the lower heat.

I pulled out the loaf and inserted a toothpick. The loaf was done perfectly, but how would it taste? In my humble opinion, this was the best banana coconut ginger cashew bread on the planet.

I thought of the old television series “Green Acres.” Eva Gabor would place an unopened box of cake mix in the oven. Her husband, Eddie Albert, would say to her, “You can’t do that!” Moments later Eva would magically remove a perfectly beautiful cake from the oven. Cooking is all in the magic.


Reader Comments

wiggy writes:

As I was reading this I viewed a disaster hitting your kitchen. Glad you still have some luck to spare.


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