Cole and I made a tart to celebrate his dad’s birthday. Cole made the tart and I took up my role as sous chef, which loosely means I documented the process for later blog posts, cleaned up spills, and assumed my motherly role by frequently saying, “Please do that over by the sink.”
In any case, the tart was a beautiful tribute to his Dad’s birthday, but in a rather odd way. Cole missed the part in the recipe about cooking the crust for 18 minutes at 400 degrees. My brother-in-law, chef extraordinaire, noticed this when he was helping Cole prepare the tart to serve. Cole assured him the crust did not need baking. When Richard asked if it had egg in it, and Cole answered yes, my ears perked up. Nevertheless, Cole was so certain the crust was made to specification that the tart was cut, artfully arranged on the plates, and served. It was good.
It was not until we got home and I got a request to send the recipe to a friend that I noticed that the crust should, indeed, have been baked. Oh well. The eggs were organic, and I told my brother-in-law that he has enough good cooks around him. Cole and I make things more interesting for him. Graciously, he agreed.
Cole is a wanna-be cook. He cooks tarts when I should be encouraging him to cook chocolate chips cookies. Cole has a mom who knows from experience that cooking is more than simply following the directions, so mistakes happen when we cook together. When we made the tart, he lost count of the number of egg yolks in the bowl. Was it 4 or 6? It’s understandable since, with some exasperation, he told me he lost count because I kept moving him around, trying to achieve the perfect egg-cracking photograph. So we pitched the eggs yolks and cracked six more eggs without interruption. I have no idea what to do with an unknown number of egg yolks.
Joe was a serious cook, and would not have been amused by our mistakes. He often drove us nuts when he decided to undertake a cooking project. He worried about dog hair, splashes of sink water, overcooking, and undercooking. He drove us from the house with burning eyes when he roasted chili peppers. He would study a complicated recipe for a week, highlighting important points, before the moment of cooking arrived. Joe and I often used to fight when he cooked. I was often accused of throwing away or giving away the missing cooking tool, putting the large mixing spoon in the dishwasher, and in general, being a distraction to the whole process with things like getting a drink of water or satisfying my current hunger with a snack. It always irritated me after it was all said and done when Joe wasn’t happy with the results.
Cole was completely satisfied with his tart, even when we realized the tart crust should have been baked. The tart was tasty, the tart was pretty, and the tart was made using all his current cooking skills. He would rather make a few mistakes along the cooking path than be stuck baking things that don’t excite him. Cole enjoys the experience of cooking; picking out an exciting recipe, the separation of egg from yolk, learning to cut segments from a juicy orange to garnish the tart, the pattern of honey on the plate, all while allowing time for putting his sous chef in the occasional head lock. Little Grasshopper knows his skills will improve with practice, and with divine intervention he won’t give any of us food poisoning.
When I asked Joe how he liked his birthday tart, he channeled back, “Thanks for helping our son be so amazing. I love you both so much!” And that made the sous chef smile … and cry just a little. The End.
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