Saturday, December 7, 2013
Shannon Bryan is a feature writer for the Portland Press Herald and content producer for MaineToday Media's entertainment website, www.mainetoday.com.
And here's a well-known truth: Shannon can't cook. She's also ostroconophobic (in Maine?!?), but in a foodie place like southern Maine, she's determined to learn how to cook, eat, and order with the best of them. Read about her culinary crusade:
Pans on fire
She's also an investigator into all that's strange and entertaining to do around here. Those findings are gathered here:
Out Going: Things to do in southern Maine
Couscous now fills the warm place in my lazy-cook's heart that use to be filled will cereal and deli ham.
The stuff is just so darn easy and expeditious. If couscous were a person, it'd be someone you invited over all the time because it would make dinner for you, then rub your feet while you eat and repeatedly tell you how good looking you are.
It's hard not to like a food like that. But the stuff cooks up in a jiff and makes friends with just about anything you can think to toss into it. It's become my go-to food on those night when sluggishness reigns, but a burgeoning personal shame won't allow me to gnaw on raw pasta for dinner. At least not as often.
I haven't grown much in 33 years.
I mean, I've grown (taller, louder and more comfortable with a sauce pan). But my experience nurturing a plant from seed to sprawling success is shamefully limited. More bluntly: I can kill a plant in the span of a week. Two, tops. It's a dark truth I've had to live with...and many a houseplant has died from.
But somewhere between learning not to splash hot oil on my forearms and preparing a plate of risotto that nearly made me weep with joy, I realized that I didn't just wanted to learn how to cook food, I wanted to learn how to grow it, too.
The banana-lime jam went so well, it's a shame the same couldn't be said for the English muffins that went with it.
"I burned three English muffins," I said.
"Why were you toasting three at a time?" I was asked.
I'm a squanderer of parsley. A fritterer of chives. A shameful waster of basil.
Or I was, until I learned about herb cubes.
What, in cilantro's name, is an herb cube? It's a question your roommate might ask after reaching in for a few hunks of frozen water to toss into her ginger ale, only to discover the ice cubes are perceptibly green and filled with leaves.
Ageism. There's no denying it exists. Even in the banana world.
When you're a young banana with a brightly colored and blemish-free peel, everyone wants a piece of you. You fly off store shelves to top a sundae or a bowl of cereal, or to be enjoyed on your own, because people think you're that good, just as you are.
But inevitably, time has its way with you. You mush a little in the middle. Your peel shows symptoms of bruising and wear (evidence of an adventurous life, you say), but people stop paying you any mind.
What's a person to do with an overripe banana? Send it Florida with a retirement package and a pair of those huge, super-tinted sunglasses that fit over regular glasses?