Category Archives: romance

How To Feed A Man

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Years ago, a boyfriend told me about a homely girl that he’d dated in the past. He said the girl was extremely unattractive, but everything that she cooked, was the best thing that he’d ever eaten. According to my then boyfriend, who, like most men, loved good food, even the ugly girl’s homemade chicken noodle soup was bowl-licking delicious. Some girls come from a long line of good cooks—it’s in their blood—and others learn how to cook when they grow up and find that it’s necessary. Even today, some women use their cooking skills to communicate what their looks can’t—they use the flavors and smells of their home cooked food to gently burrow its way to the heart of the man they desire.

If the way to a man’s heart is truly through his stomach, I would imagine that one way to stay there, is through your delicious cooking. I am a firm believer that women cook differently for their husbands or boyfriends, than they do for their children, and even themselves. Every woman who cooks regularly for a man, wants her meals to shine. Every woman wants her man to push away from her home cooked meals, smiling, satisfied, and pleasantly full.

This post isn’t meant to be a how-to-cook tutorial, I am not a professional cooking teacher. But I know for sure, that good cooking comes from a passion to cook, and feed, a love for ingredients, practice, and culinary creativity. When a woman is a good cook, she employs all of her senses to the meal—her sense of smell, of touch, her sight, her sense of hearing, and taste. Good cooks aren’t afraid to adjust their recipes; add or subtract an ingredient if the recipe they follow, calls for more, or less. Exceptional cooks are almost always the women you see in the grocery stores, who are sniffing, bouncing, feeling, and observing their ingredients before they buy them. It’s like they have this other sense that allows them to envision their meals before they cook and set them on the table. You can almost taste the delicious outcome of their meals by the way they touch and sniff and probe the ingredients first.

Cooking for a man, involves so much more than just cooking. Man-pleasing cooks are just as concerned with the visual and audible effects that surround a meal, as they are with its taste and aromatic appeal. Womanish cooks employ the right back-ground music, lay out appropriate linen, drinking glasses, and flatware, and always set a tray of his favorite condiments next to the plate. They use comfort, appropriate lighting, pretty plating, and lovely serving dishes as tools to help them uplift their servings. I have vivid memories of going to the department stores with my grandmother, to buy pretty things to display her meals—especially her cakes and pies. She used to say, “Cooking is a woman’s glory”.

I grew up around lots of seasonings and spices. My mother stocked her shelves and refrigerator with them; she said they added flavor and aroma to her meals. In fact, even today, I can open what used to be Mama’s spice cabinet, and smell a trace of the seeds, pods, and barks, that were once hers. My mother had peeves about women who only cooked with salt and pepper. She would tell me that spices and herb rubs were her greatest cooking secret. Without them, she would tell me, she couldn’t cook. “If you want your meals to shine,” she would say, “Add a pinch of this…” Or, “It’s light (or it’s dark) just like the (whatever it was) and no one will ever know that you’ve put it in. They’ll wonder what that taste is, but they’ll never be able to put their finger on it.” She used to call me into the kitchen when she was seasoning and spicing her dishes, and almost whisper her techniques to me. Mama was a bona fide cooking geisha; a bona fide seasoning guru. She would use her knowledge of soft music, texture, color, comfort, and kitchen décor, and combine it with her cooking spices and seasonings to give her meals simplicity and polish. Mama used to say, “Sometimes a woman needs to search her kitchen, before she searches her boudoir. Most men have sat with every size, in every color, but they’d be hard-pressed to say they’ve sat in front of a delicious homemade meal.”

Home cooked food tastes better than store-bought; there’s no getting around that. Most men love to eat good food. They are intrigued with a woman who knows her way around a hot stove. Plus, being applauded for your cooking shows people that you have another side; it shows a man that you possess another talent. When you know how to season your food, and stage your house so that it feels warm and inviting, most men are intuitively drawn to it; they won’t want to leave. Their instinct will tell them that this is home.

You Should…

1) Give your kitchen a man-drawing test. Discard wobbly chairs and tables and torn curtains and linens. And anything     girlishly pink.
2) Display your culinary trinkets on kitchen ceiling beams, on kitchen tables, and on counters. The idea of a woman spending time in the kitchen excites some men.
3) Hang interesting and unique food-related photos and posters on your kitchen walls. Give him something to look at while he’s eating.
4) Stock your kitchen with the things that he likes to snack on.
5) Put your most interesting cookbooks on display, between unique bookends.
6) Clean out your refrigerator. A man hates a smelly and moldy refrigerator.
7) Hide all pesticides.
8) Forget about learning to cook “gourmet”. Most men prefer simple dishes. Besides, you can give anything a fancy name and call it gourmet.
9) Learn how to cook his favorite dishes…especially the ones that take him back to childhood.
10) Distinguish your cooking with a variety of seasoning extracts, powders, herbs, and spices. Know that most men desire a woman who can cook.


A MAN’S HOLIDAY

When I was a little girl, about three or four, there was an old couple in the old neighborhood, named George and Roberta Hayes. Looking back, I imagine they were in their late sixties. Roberta was short and skinny; George was short and fat. Roberta had short thin hair; George was bald. Miss Roberta was soft-spoken and gingerly, while George, who looked as though he’d been born with the fat cigar that was always clenched between his teeth, was loud and energetic. In the summertime, he would sit on his porch with his portable radio blasting ball games or wrestling matches. From across the street, we could hear him yelling obscenities at the radio when the team or fighter he was rooting for fumbled a ball or took a hit.

Sometimes, after Daddy had gone to work, and George was at the skating rink (some years back, our local newspaper actually featured a story—with photos—of George ice skating in the park—I think he was ninety at the time) my mother and I would go across the street and sit with Miss Roberta. Mama was a young woman at the time, still learning how to be a wife; Miss Roberta, who was full of wise wife stories and managed boisterous George like a charm, was Mama’s inspiration. Mama could sit at Miss Roberta’s kitchen table for hours, exchanging recipes and gathering husband-management advice.

While our visits were enlightening and uplifting for my mother, they were miserable for a little girl my age. Miss Roberta was one of those women who always had something sweet and delicious-looking sitting out. Everywhere I looked, there was something tempting—a caramel pound cake, a peach cobbler, a pan of cinnamon rolls—cooling on the counter. Problem was, none of the treats could be disturbed because, according to Miss Roberta, “That’s for George‘s sweet tooth.” A few times, I was so overwhelmed while in the presence of such good-looking food, and not being able to taste even a crumb of it, I actually slid out of my chair and cried. I didn’t understand how Miss Roberta could be so merciless as to seat a little girl in a kitchen surrounded by tantalizing candied jewels, then claim they were for George’s sweet tooth; what about my sweet tooth?

To be fair, I did get a chance to sample some of Miss Roberta’s goodies from time to time. George, who was an avid sports man, would invite Daddy and a few of the other neighborhood men over for Super Bowl Sunday or The World Series or some other major televised sporting event, and when the event was over, Miss Roberta would send Daddy home with a covered plate. Miss Roberta went all out for George’s parties—replete with dishes like southern fried chicken wings, curried meatballs, baked ham, macaroni and cheese, and two or three desserts, like chocolate sheet cake, orange sugar cookies, and cherry cheese pie. Miss Roberta once told Mama, “If you want a man to honor your holidays—anniversaries, your birthday, Valentine’s Day—you have to honor his.”

This year on Super Bowl Sunday, I thought about what Miss Roberta said. And how most men actually see that day as a special day…a “holiday” if you will. I called all of the men in my life—my cousins, my uncles, and my platonic men friends—around town and out of state—and simply said, “I called to wish you a happy Super Bowl Day” I talked to each one for just a minute, asked what he had planned, and so forth. You should have heard their reactions to my acknowledgment of their special day. Every man I called, seemed touched; each one immediately started rattling off his menu and guest list.

At the last minute, my friend Harris (I’m not quite ready to call him “my boyfriend” just yet) who is a devoted football fan, asked if he could watch the game at my house. That surprised me; during our first phone conversation he informed me that football Sundays, “are my days with the fellows.” He said it with authority, as though someone from his past had had a problem with letting him go for an entire day. I just looked at the phone and smiled. “That’s wonderful,” I said. “Everybody needs a personal day.” [I’m an old cat, kitten. Don’t play that game with me;)].

Of course I gave him permission to come by. After that, I quickly threw together a little something…southern fried chicken wings, herbed potato wedges, buttered corn on the cob, and cherry cheese pie. I just wanted to add a little of my touch to his special occasion. Harris carried on like a fool over that simple little fare. Mama once told me, “You don’t have to cook gourmet to leave a good taste in a man’s mouth.”

Harris especially liked my cherry cheese pie. He kept saying, “Cheesecake is one of my all-time favorite desserts.” Of course I didn’t tell him that it took me all of twenty minutes (or less) to mix it up, or that it wasn’t baked in the oven. There are some things that a man doesn‘t need to know.

Cherry Cheese Pie

1 (9 ounce) ready-made graham cracker pie crust
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) container frozen cool whip, thawed
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set on medium-high, carefully blend the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the thawed cool whip. Again, gently blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour into the ready made pie crust. Use a butter knife to smooth out the top of the pie. Spread the cherry pie filling on top of the pie. Place the pie in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Note: Depending on the tartness of the cherries, I often add extra sugar—about a teaspoon at a time—to the pie filling to achieve the sweetness that I want.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH

In mythology, Midas, was the king of Pessinus, which was the capitol of Phrygia. Phrygia was a small, wealthy country, located in the eastern part of what is now known as Turkey. According to lore, King Midas was a very kind ruler, who doted on his beloved rose garden. Early every morning, no sooner than he’d listened to (and granted) the requests of his loyal subjects, the good king strolled out to his garden where he stayed for hours, feeding his roses, and speaking words of love to them. One morning, while King Midas was taking his daily morning walk through his prized garden, he and members of his court stumbled upon a drunken satyr named, Silenus. You can imagine how upsetting the sight of a drunken satyr— slobbing at the mouth, talking crazy, and sprawled out on top of your beautiful plants, crushing the life out of them—would be. Silenus, half-goat, half-man, was immediately hauled inside, and at the foot of the royal thrown, he began an attempt to charm his captors with a series of mesmerizing, and woeful tales, designed to save his life.

Of course, King Midas could have had Silenus’ head if he’d wanted it, but the king took pity on the drunkard and let him go without punishment. Sometimes, you just see people and their situations as, “if it wasn’t for the grace of God, that could be me.”

Legend has it, that from above, Dionysus, the god of the forces of life, had watched the whole event as it was taking place. And he was pleased with the kindness that King Midas had shown the old drunk. As a reward, Dionysus offered King Midas, one wish. Told him, “you can have any wish in the world, and I will command it.”

Well, King Midas didn’t think the thing out. He just blurted out, “I wish that whatever I touch turns to gold.” Unfortunately, that was the king’s undoing. Cause, he got exactly what he wished for: everything he touched—his wife, his children, his food, and his beloved roses, everything that he touched—turned a solid gold.

In the story, King Midas found redemption. He begged Dionysus to nullify the wish, and that’s exactly what the good god did; he took away King Midas’ golden touch. Too bad “life” doesn’t always give us a second chance to give back the things we ask for. We see the green grass on the other side of the fence, so we wish we were over there; we see a woman wearing designer clothes, so we wish we had her money; we see a pretty model on the cover of a magazine, so we wish we had her face; we see a fine man driving in a
nice car, so we wish we could be sitting beside him. Things aren’t always what they seem to be, spices. My mother once told me, “You may wish for a handsome husband, but do you really need one?”

Think, before you make a wish. You might get it…and everything that comes with it.

Speaking of gold, my cousin, Dee Dee, gave me the recipe for this extravagantly rich and moist golden pound cake a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve made it several times. It might not be good to the waistline, but it sure is kind to the mouth.

Golden Pound Cake:

1-½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup 7-Up

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a Bundt pan. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and blend until the mixture is creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, the vanilla extract, and the lemon extract. Mix until the ingredients are well-blended. There shouldn’t be any white streaks in the batter. Add 1 cup of the flour, and beat the batter until just combined. Add 1/3 of the 7-Up and beat the batter until just combined. Repeat this step, until the flour and 7-Up are incorporated into the batter. Pour the batter into the greased Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out
clean. Take the pan out of the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto an attractive cake plate.


Love Is In The Details

I think it’s fair to say that Valentine’s Day belongs to women and children; well, I forgot, men are also the beneficiaries of heartfelt tokens of love on that day—such as cozy breakfasts in bed, romantic evening suppers, and lacy red teddies worn on bodies coated with scented oil. Hmmn…now that I think about it, Valentine’s Day might be more for men, than it is for women, or children; everybody knows, when a woman loves a man, nobody can outdo her when it comes to creating ways to show him. I know a woman right now, whose house is in foreclosure because she’s using most of her paycheck to finance her lover’s high-rolling lifestyle. ( I’ll save that conversation for another post: Women Who Do Foolish Things To Keep A Man). But you know what I mean; a woman’s heart is wired to look for ways to communicate love to the people she cares for.

Over the years, I’ve experienced some sweet Valentine days, replete with roses and chocolates, baubles and trinkets. I’ve had some Valentine’s Day crying spells, too. That was before I understood that a man can show his love in a variety of ways. Love isn’t always bought and wrapped inside a pretty package with a bow. Sometimes, it mows the lawn or digs the bed for the shrubbery or takes the car to the shop to be detailed. Sometimes, love
meets you in the driveway and helps carry in the groceries or stands by
your side keeping you company, while you put them away. Sometimes, love doesn’t do any of those things; all it does is pay the bills that keep the roof over your head.

One of my most cherished Valentine’s Day memories is of a day when I was eight years old and homebound due to a cold. At one point, Mama came into my bedroom and set a saucer of chocolates, a mug of homemade hot chocolate, and a new book, The Best Loved Doll, on my nightstand. “Happy Valentine’s Day. This’ll cheer you up,” she said. All these years later, that one little nicety still cheers me when I think about it. Sometimes, spices, love is hidden inside the details. You might look out your window and see the flower truck in your neighbor’s driveway, but just because she’s getting flowers, that doesn’t mean she’s loved.

Hot Chocolate

You can spoil a man with this. When he comes in from a cold and snowy day, there’s nothing more inviting than a cup of real hot chocolate; it’s much more decadent than the powdery mix that comes in a tin can.

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sugar to taste
6 ounces good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Whipped cream (optional)

In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream over medium heat until it simmers: about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla, sugar, and chocolate pieces. Whisk until the ingredients are well-blended and the chocolate is completely melted; about 2 minutes. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you want to add a little more flavor and flair. And if you really want to say something, make the whipped cream from scratch.

Makes about 4 servings