Charles Siskin: Child Endangerment

Monday, September 14, 2015 - by Charles Siskin

On my television screen there are groups of poor sweating individuals trying to create something edible and attractively presented to three executioners, sorry Judges, in a short period of time. Heartbreaking after they’ve all busted their proverbial chops to hear “your chops have been CHOPPED”!

Lately I don’t watch the Food Channel very often. It wears me out. Also I’ve become over saturated with political polls that take the pulse of a couple of farmers out in Iowa and pronounce it the current gospel according to whomever while messing with the farmer and his cow’s milking routine. That goes for the chickens too.

Also I have been annoyed by most of the buyers on HGTV who only have one line of dialogue, “WOW”. So I returned to the Food Network.

Now I’m thinking about getting in touch with whatever federal agency handles child abuse cases. There is an agency for every imaginable and unimaginable issue so finding the particular one I need is a no-brainer.

Also I plan to skip the local authorities because as I see it this is definitely an issue that involves small children from across our great country.

What is it you might ask? Or might not if you don’t have children. It is the unspeakable truth of innocent young people being challenged on, of all places, the Food Channel.

What could be more heart breaking than to have a 10-year-old's soufflé FALL! Surely some of you have witnessed the look on that chubby child’s cheeks. Has the American public no shame? Or is this better than watching Shark Tank destroy someone’s dream of becoming the next Steve Jobs?

It is mind blowing to me that kids this young are able to produce puff pastry when all you have to do is hit the frozen food section at Publix. When I was that age I had chubby cheeks alright but that was due to my mother hovering over me making sure I “cleaned my plate”. But I’ll skip that painful time. It’s the sort of mindless chatter about one of the Kardashians heard on TMZ. (9 PM Central time on the Fox Channel. I try not to watch, honestly)

As for being able to produce a gourmet meal at 10 years of age, the last thing my father wanted to witness was me decked out in a apron doing anything more than the dishes after dinner.

Now here we are 50 years later watching kids who should be out risking concussions on the football field instead whisking and fretting over food that I call “elaborate party foods”. As for myself I learned to cook as a survival mode. By the time I was able to afford my first home away from home women had been liberated from the kitchen, broken free of those bonds and were out in the work place having figured out how to earn a buck doing cooking shows on television. Is Rachael Ray not the chirpiest little magpie ever? Julia, I miss you so much.

Okay maybe I’m a bit jealous of those pre-teens ability to produce outstanding dishes but on the Cooking Channel envy is everything.  And losing, well just look at those poor saps faces after flying around in a torrent of sweat with only one minute left till Showtime and their ice cream melting into a glob.

Is this not heartbreak? I have to turn away and go to Diners and Drive Ins where gorging on through-the-roof calorie-busting dishes is really all the fun. Not fun enough to visit these restaurants but to live vicariously through my cable channel.

It’s that or watch insanely naked people hack their way through some snake infested jungle in their birthday suits while developing dysentery drinking tainted water from some pond. How much fun do you think these naked people are having?

Probably less than the sweating child who’s just over cooked a filet of beef?

I should note that soon we’ll be having our first “Golden Noodle” contest down here on what was formerly known as the Red Neck Riviera. It is rapidly becoming South Beach in the Panhandle. It’s also the place that will feature those sweet little urchins, no one over 12, dishing up pasta, formally known as macaroni,  studded with $2000 a pound rare white truffles all the while singing, “Food Glorious Food” from the musical “Oliver” with a new Twist.

I can’t vouch for the truffles but I can say that I really do appreciate these youngsters and their talent. As for my grandchildren, I know that my high school senior can make excellent pasta so I know she will not succumb to the ravages of fast foods.  Okay pizza, once she gets to college next year. 

Also I should note that the Jewish New Year is coming up shortly and lamb was a staple in my house, especially around the Jewish holidays whether it was the beginning of a New Year or Passover. The sacrificial lamb, well known in the Bible, was extremely well known at our holiday table.

Often I have the butcher debone a leg of lamb which makes it easier to cook. As opposed to a rack which I find obscenely expensive, I like the leg which I slow cook in the oven along with a dice of celery and their tops, carrots, onions, bay leaf and diced tomatoes. I also pour in some red wine diluted with a bit of water or stock, chicken or beef, as well. You could call this my ecumenical version of Pot Roast. Amen to that.

What I did not too long ago with my left over red wine, normally I would drink it but in this case I let it sit too long in the wine rack, was to make a wine gelatin that I served alongside of the lamb.  It was a spur of the moment decision but I would never pour wine down the kitchen drain. That act seems blasphemous.  Also how many times have others run into this situation? Never, you say, everything is drinkable. Pity the Oenophile.

As for small children cooking grown up foods, my only concern is the next big thing on the Food Channel might well be babies climbing out of their cribs to enhance their formula with a hint of kale.

Wine Gelatin

2 cups red wine

½ cup sugar or more if you prefer a sweeter taste

2 small packets Knox gelatin dissolved in ½ cup warm water

Bring the wine and sugar to a boil then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes reducing by no more than a 1/3

Off stove let it cool slightly then add the gelatin and combine with wine

Pour into individual ceramic or glass ramekins and refrigerate until set 

Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint when serving


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