“How do you roast a chicken?” my housemate asked. We were living in a small house on the outskirts of Oxford, England, commuting to tutorials by bike or foot or, in my case, used Vespa. I had an enormous helmet that made me look like a misshapen bee or person from the future and yet I continued to wear the helmet, especially to the stores too far away to walk…the tiny butcher’s shop with pheasants hanging and homemade sausages curled in the case, the Indian green market with twisted cucumbers for raita and ripe mangoes sold by the case.
“Did you learn to cook growing up?” I asked as though we weren’t STILL growing up.
My housemates had not learned to make anything more than pasta. So I bought a whole chicken and carried it in my backpack. I bought bread from the bakery and made breadcrumbs and stuffing with golden raisins and grated carrots, showed them how to bake fish and make salmon cakes.
When my kids go off and live their lives outside of this house, I hope they will take with them a strong sense of self and some skills to start them off….including a few recipes they can share or, as I learned to do on a rain-filled slop-gray night, make a nice meal for themselves to accompany them as they read or write a paper or nurse a broken heart.
They can always come home for a meal, but here’s one all four kids can make now:
1-2 lbs flounder or other white fish (sole, cod), washed and patted dry
1/3 cup olive oil plus some for baking dish
1- 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (Panko are great, or any crisped crumb)
garlic if desired
Oven to 425. Oil baking dish. Place fish in dish in 2 layers, salt and pepper between and on top. Mix rest of oil and breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and spread on top of fish (if you like, crush some garlic and mix that into crumbs). Bake for 15-25 minutes until crumbs are toasty and sides are crackling and be glad your kids can say, “Yes, I did learn to cook.”