Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Real men bake. (And cook too)

This handsome man is my hubby Matt.  He was in the middle of making a cherry rhubarb crisp.  Nice huh?
I read it, see it and hear it all the time. 
Women often complain about the following:
  • I'm so tired of cooking.
  • Why can't he do it for a change?
  • Homemade baked goods?  I don't have time for that.
I have a wonderful secret.  My husband.  He's a kind person, an amazing father, one hell of a sexy man, and he cooks well.  Very well. 

I am very lucky that my husband is this way.  We've been married for 15 years and I'm still astonished by how lucky I am, especially when I talk to other moms and married ladies.   The biggest complaint I hear over and over is that there is often little help in the kitchen from our male counterparts.   This living locally stuff would only be a fad of mine if I didn't have some help from this man.  He's integral in its success.  Why?  Because I get tired like everyone else.

Most of what I make is homemade but there is a point every week when I get tired.  I get tired of doing all the normal stuff around the house, with the kids, and sometimes cooking just seems like one additional task.  It's the day of the week that I don't want to make dinner.  I don't care if it's local and the idea of baking anything will certainly set me over the edge.  Enter Matt.  My savior. 

9 times out of 10 he's already got something planned in his mind of what to make for dinner.  The other time he searches around the pantry and our garden for ideas.  Like me, he prefers to use as many local ingredients as possible and feels pride when the majority of them come from local businesses.  He is especially pleased when the ingredients come from our garden itself.  That means these ingredients are essentially FREE and who doesn't like free stuff?

We are blessed with a wonderful backyard.  It's why we bought the house.  It affords us a ton of space for our active boys to play along with a nicely sized garden.  We have 3 raised beds.  One is a perennial garden with strawberries and some very recently added asparagus.  The other beds are rotating beds in which we plant new stuff every year.  I always let one lie fallow for the winter and sometimes an entire season.  We are very proud of our little garden because we both built it and we continue to add new things to it all the time.  For us this little garden is the nexus of our local mindset.  What's more local than your own backyard right? 
Here's our veggie garden as it currently stands.  I was late in starting it this year.  That's why it's so sparse.

Over the years, we've also added fruit trees (2 apple, 2 pear, and 2 cherry) and some rhubarb plants.  The rhubarb was Matt's idea and he tends his plants nicely.  Currently we have 3 and they are all in their second growth of the season.  One is normally superbly gigantic and the other two are doing well in keeping up with their older "brother."  Needless to say we usually have plenty to go around and Matt is often seen snapping off stems to bake into something. 
Our pie cherry tree.  It's small but it puts out a ton of fruit and the critters don't like it.  Yay!
One of our rhubarb plants.  It looks small but this is its second growth this season. 
You see Matt has a bit of a secret.  Matt is a pie fiend.  He looooooves pie.  Sadly for him, I do not get around to baking much.  It's not my favorite thing to do although I can do it quite well.  I prefer to cook dinners and such.  It's more to my liking.  Also, I have two boys, ages 4 and 8, and they have constant needs.  I can attend to these needs and still cook.  Baking however can be time sensitive and once you begin you can't just stop in the middle of it all.  So when Matt can wait no longer for a pie he does one of two things.  He either keeps the boys out of my hair and kindly requests a well deserved pie or he takes matters into his own hands.  The rest of this post is about him doing just that. 

When Matt can't have a pie he will either make one himself or make a crisp.  While he loves to consume pie he finds it tedious to make the crust.  Sometimes we compromise and I make the crust and he makes the filling.  However when Matt is in the throws of a serious pie craving something needs to happen and FAST.  This is where a crisp comes into play. 
According to my husband a crisp has many things going for it. 
  1. It's fast.
  2. It's easy to make. 
  3. It has most of the essential components of a pie, such as fruit, sugar, starch etc.
  4. You can make it out of staples that are already in your pantry.
  5. Frozen or fresh/seasonal fruit work very well.
    (Frozen fruit can complicate pie making very quickly.  A crisp is ideal for frozen fruit.)
  6. You can feel good about eating it for breakfast because it has oatmeal AND fruit. 
    (This is Matt's favorite aspect of a crisp and now the boys are on to it.  However, he manages to still eat pie for breakfast too, but he doesn't feel quite as good about it.)
When Matt gets ready to make a crisp he gets out his go-to cookbook.  Here she is.  Betty Crocker's New Cookbook:  Everything You Need to Know to Cook.  I got this book as a wedding gift and I used it when I first began cooking because it has all the basics in there.  I quickly outgrew it and moved on to a full fledged cookbook addiction.  I guess you could say that this book was my gateway drug.  Seriously, though.  It has some pretty good basic stuff, like how to make pies and crisps.  Both Matt and I ignore the old-fashioned "healthful" advice of this book.  For example substituting margarine for butter.  It's butter all the way in our house.  I don't even keep margarine in the house.  Blech! 

Oh, the memories...She was a good little cookbook...
However, the irony is that this book was not meant for Matt.  It was given to me by a well-meaning and very conservative couple who wanted to help get me on the right path to cooking for my husband.  How tickled I am now that Matt loves this cookbook and uses it to put himself on the right path to cooking for me/us/our family.  Ha!  Now that is turning tradition on its ear. 
I have to say that in general Matt cooks very different from me.  I try new stuff constantly.  I revamp recipes and turn them into my own.  Matt on the other hand cooks with what is there.  He is far more creative than I.  He cooks mostly by instinct.  Like most men, he knows what he likes and he utilizes that strength in the kitchen. He will whip up a wonderful meal when I complain that there is "nothing in the house to use for dinner."  It always tastes amazing and the kids love it too.  However this style of cooking doesn't always work in the area of baking.  That's why a cookbook is needed.  Since Matt cooks on the fly, he views most cookbooks as destructive to whatever he is creating.  So Betty Crocker really has been quite honored by this man.  This is one of a small exclusive group of cookbooks that Matt will utilize for extremely specific purposes.  I love it.  I love his unique way creating food that he and I enjoy.  It's truly awesome. 
So here's what he made. 
Matt's Tart Cherry Rhubarb crisp (Inspired by Betty Crocker's New Cookbook)
  • 4 cups fruit (a mixture of pitted tart cherries and rhubarb)
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (adjust to the tartness of your fruit)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup stick butter
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
How he does it:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 8x8x2 inches, with butter.  Arrange fruit in pan and mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.  Sprinkle over fruit.  Bake crisp for about 30 minutes. 

That's it.  Then according to Matt you just eat it until it's gone.  Yes, breakfast is acceptable. 
Voilà!  Here she is.  Local and yummy.
So ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you this.  Real men not only cook but they bake too.  They take matters into their own hands and get it done.  They support their family by doing their part.  Men, you don't need to be a master chef to cook or bake well.  You just need to know what you like and begin somewhere.  Find a cookbook that suits you, open it up and get going.  This is what women have done for centuries.  It's your turn and guess what?  You might even discover something new about yourself.  Something like, it feels good to create something that your family covets and enjoys.  It feels good to make your spouse feel less tired during the week and see that grateful smile on her face.  It feels good to see that you are setting a good example for your children of what it means to be a man.  It feels good to realize that a man who cooks/bakes is an incredibly sexy creature.  No woman can resist a man that knows his way around a kitchen.
Lastly, let me end by saying this.  I have never expected Matt to be like me in the kitchen.  I let him be himself and so therefore he is comfortable there.  I want him to be comfortable.  The alternative keeps me up at night.  I might actually have to make my own crisp! 


1 comment:

  1. Hi, would your husband be interested in being on a tv show? I'm a Casting Producer working on TLC's Next Great Baker season 4! This season we're casting teams of 2, instead of individuals competing. Its really hard to find guys that I figured whats the harm in asking :)
    Hope to hear from you!
    Best, Megan