Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Spanish Betty Crocker

Jerry's sister Linda has taken her share of ridicule over the years for her limited skills in the kitchen.  When her sons were growing up, Linda was known for cooking up a delicious — really delicious — lasagna (which is more than I can do), but that was the extent of her culinary powers.  She couldn't understand why egg whites and egg yolks needed to be separated if they were just going to get mixed up with everything else in the end.  And it made perfect sense to her to just turn up the oven temperature if she needed something to cook more quickly.  Interestingly, since her sons left home, Linda has actually become a very good cook.  It probably just wasn't worth the effort with two growing boys who inhaled four boxes of cereal at a sitting.  In fact, many of the meals Jerry served up in recent years were recipes taken from Linda's kitchen.  But, the joke has lingered.

Over the years, Linda began to refer to herself as Betty Crocker (cultural icon, as well as brand name of mega food corporation General Mills). Betty Crocker was not a real person.  She was created by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921.  The name "Betty" was selected because it was considered cheery and all-American.  The name Crocker was the last name of the director of the company.

In the 1990s, our cousins Inger and Jan Olaf, and their three kids flew from Bergen, Norway to spend some time with us in San Francisco.  Linda and Tom flew out for a brief visit.  Inger is an exceptionally talented and trained cook and baker, and she was interested in American cooking.  Linda was happy to remind Inger every chance she got that she, Linda, was Betty Crocker. One day Inger said, "But I would love to know what the real Betty Crocker looks like." Linda helpfully framed her own face in her open hands and said, "See?"

Inger has now taken to calling herself the Norwegian Betty Crocker and I think it's time for Jerry to claim Spain as his own.

The point of this entire story is that I am well fed, whether in Norway, the United States, or Spain.  This morning, we could not supplement our standard Greek yogurt and fruit with tostadas from El Sanedrín, because it's Sunday in Sevilla and therefore no place in the neighborhood serves breakfast — if they open early enough or at all to even serve a cup of coffee.  So, Jerry said he would "make us some eggs."

After completing the crossword puzzle, I headed into the kitchen to see how Jerry was doing with our eggs.  I should have known after all these years that when Jerry says he'll make us some "eggs," I will not be presented with a simple scramble and a slice of buttered toast.  (Read my post about the "eggs" Jerry threw together in July at my mother's house if you'd like to get up to speed.)  And yet he still surprises me.  Gorgeous and fragrant chorizos were in a pan.  A bowl was filled with a mixture of chopped green and red peppers, onion, and tomatoes.  There was a beautiful slab of country-style bread sitting on a cutting board.  Oh, yes, there was in fact a large bowl of eggs and a sinkful of egg shells. Jerry had cooked us up "Basque Scrambled Eggs" from his newest cookbook purchased just last week, "A Passion for Tapas."

Last night, my resident chef used his new cookbook to serve up an amazing dinner.  The main course was Chicken with Raisins and Pine Kernels (red wine vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, lemon rind, raisins, chicken breasts, olive oil — Spanish of course and two different kinds, garlic, pine nuts, parsley). 


The side dish was Broad Beans with Ham (broad beans, olive oil, red onion, Serrano ham, parsley).


Just so you know how unlike Betty Crocker I am, I just read the chicken recipe and when I hit the instruction, "turn the salad into a serving dish," I thought it was a magic trick... or a miracle (like turning water into wine, or fish into loaves of bread).

Then again, if I were running the kitchen, turning uncooked food into something cooked and edible would in fact be a miracle.


  1. The family sounds like The International House of Betty!
    And Jerry should certainly be the Emperor of the club; that food looks deelish!

  2. Those scrambled eggs look ambrosial. And it's something even I could manage to create. Though for me, no chorizos, please. (Says he after looking them up!)

  3. Bob:
    Jerry's youngest sister is good in the kitchen, although she and Linda had an interesting conversation about cardamom when Inger wanted some to bake breakfast rolls. Definitely a family of Bettys. Jerry likes to think of himself as the general, but I think emperor fits better.

  4. Raybeard:
    Sorry about not going vegetarian for you, but the eggs would be great without the chorizo. And last night's bean dish didn't need the ham to be satisfying and very healthy.

  5. WOW ! It's that I seldom use eggs when used whole [allergic reaction to it, no problems with them in mayonaise] but it looks amazing. Also the broad beans dish sounds delish.

  6. Jerry! Oh Jerry! We need you! Here!
    These all look delicious!

  7. Peter:
    Sorry about the eggs! I have the same reaction to bees (even in they were to be put in mayonnaise) -- well, I guess that's not the same thing. The broad beans WERE delish and even better tonight as leftovers.

  8. Jim:
    Oh, no, I hope you're not BOTH like me in the kitchen!

  9. Question?
    Jerry, where is the food blog, with recipes.
    The chicken dish, wow....
    Maybe I should think about cooking more than sandwiches!
    I am starving now.....
    Do you guys need a Houseboy? YUM

  10. Theaterdog:
    If Jerry started a food blog, he might not have as much time to keep me fed. As for a houseboy... maybe if he comes with his own trust fund.

  11. Could I move in with you two in Fred were to ever leave me? Honestly, I know nothing about the kitchen other than how to clean it.
    Although I suppose I could go back to eating ravioli out of a can like I did before Fred came into the picture.

  12. Mark:
    How could Fred ever leave you?! I remember my own ravioli-out-of-a-can days. But, Mark, if we could cook, we'd be perfect. And that would be so boring.

  13. This all sounds and looks scrummy!The Basque scramble with the broad beans now that is perfect.

  14. the cuby poet:
    It WAS perfect. And just a little something Jerry threw together.


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