The notion that all women should cook well from womb to grave is neither new nor diminished, especially while the mantra that women can have it all persists, which really means women can do it all. Women who cannot cook should zip lips and wear smiles and nodding heads because, after all, it is in their very nature—their ovaries perhaps, this ability to cook. Isn’t it?
Like the grapevine, wild hairs pruned, audacious bulbs plucked, limbs trained, nature controlled, some women like Thea McGillivray reach beyond the self on their culinary quest. They peruse, pursue, even pine over gourmet food aisles, salivate over plates they see through fine dining windows as they pass, knowing the day old dried out half sandwich awaits at home.
Thea is one woman undeterred by dreaded childhood meals that kept her mother in the kitchen for hours, but led to a few chomps and swallows just to get the stuff down. Despite her mother’s one dish that she “knew would be a really yummy dinner,” the dish she requested each birthday because she could trust it, Thea treaded on and taught herself to cook, and cook well. She spent hours hunkered down in front of the Food Network imbibing techniques, strategies, complimentary ingredients, effective cooking tools. Then she took to the kitchen and served her parents, who gobbled up her concoctions. Over time, Thea became the chef, feeding her family whole, healthy ingredients she learned to control just as her vintner father trains wild vine into vineyard at Dono dal Cielo, the family’s winery in Newcastle, California.
Now, Thea’s culinary repertoire offers options galore, but she still reverts back to that comfort meal, the one she requested each birthday—Honey Ginger Chicken. As she slides butter into the baking dish, rinses chicken, a smile creeps up. She’s serving this dish to her own daughter for the first time. She glides around her kitchen like she belongs there, like it was born in her, but we know otherwise. Many women, like Thea, have taken it upon themselves to dig up, fertilize and re-plant what didn’t come in their packages; they read cookbooks, food blogs, watch TV shows, follow recipes from smartphones in one hand while the other chops and stirs what they hope will become a great culinary accomplishment.
As Thea flits between tending her sick daughter and filling the house with a ginger fragrance so delightful it’s hard to not seat ourselves at the table, rest napkins on laps, lick saliva from lips—spread out before her rests The Art of Eating In. We can’t help but think about hefting take-out between work and home wanting to eat-in just once, but not knowing where to turn for help with something we are often expected to know. This isn’t about women learning to cook in order to feed their families; this is about people learning to create meals they feel proud of, especially when it’s dinner for one.
HONEY GLAZED CHICKEN QUARTERS
For the Chicken:
1 whole chicken, quartered or 3 1/2 lbs chicken pieces of your preference
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp garlic salt
Dash of freshly ground pepper
2 tb butter
For the Glaze:
4 tb butter
1/4 cup honey
3 tb fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemon juice is best)
2 tb soy sauce
Ground ginger to taste (if you like it spicy add about 1 tsp)
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix flour, garlic salt and pepper and then coat the chicken pieces thoroughly. Put 2 tb of butter into a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Put dish in oven to melt butter while oven preheats. Arrange chicken, skin side down, in melted butter. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tb butter with honey, lemon juice, soy sauce and ground ginger in a small sauce pan. After chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, remove from oven and turn skin side up. Pour honey glaze over chicken pieces and place pan back in oven. Brush or baste chicken occasionally with glaze until chicken is tender and richly browned, about 30 minutes more.
Serve immediately with rice and a salad or veggies of your choice. Enjoy!