White Cheddar Celery Root Pie, Layoff and Cooking Etiquette (and jealousy of Park Slopers)

Hi everyone. I just read an excellent NY Times article by Jan Hoffman in the Styles section of this Sunday’s paper.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/fashion/18layoff.html

It is the article right next to the one about how everyone keeps slamming Park Slope folks because they are jealous of them.

In the Hoffman article, she discussed the appropriate things to say when someone has been laid off, a situation that is pretty prevalent these days. We may be well meaning, but our words may embarrass the person on the receiving end. A simple question like, ” What are you doing home today?” or “I’m so sorry”, may be humiliating. A better thing to say may be, “Maybe I can hook you up with a friend of mine at a similar company,” etc.

You know I am going to bring this back to cooking so here I go: This article made me think of my non-cooking friends and how so many of us ask if their cake is homemade when we should just say, “This cake is awesome”. If they offer up that they bought it or it is from a mix, a polite thing to say may be,”What mix is it? I’ve got to get it.” as opposed to an awkward silence making many a novice or non-cook feel lousy about not cooking it from scratch.

Perhaps not you, but many people, women especially, feel very self conscious about buying prepared quiche crusts instead of making them from scratch. I say screw the whole crust thing and make it a crustless quiche or savory pie. Our, I mean my, love handles appreciate it.

This delicious savory pie called for a potato but I substituted a celery root to save on carbs and because it was leftover from my organic vegetable coop delivery and what else was I going to do with one celery root?????

White Cheddar and Celery Root Pie:

1 3″ in diameter celery root
2 cups chopped onion
2 TBS Butter or Earth Balance Spread or olive oil
3 Large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
a bit more than a cup of Good quality White Sharp cheddar about 2 1/2 cups grated

Peel, dice and steam celery root until tender. Treat it just like a potato. Let cool
Chop onions and saute in whatever fat you are using and let cool
Beat eggs and add in milk, salt, pepper celery root, onions and then stir in the cheese. Bake in an 8″X8″ baking dish lined with parchment at 375 degrees for about 1/2 hour or until knife come out clean. Delicious!

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5 Responses

  1. I’ve gotta say, I don’t fully agree with your take on this one. I think there’s a lot to be said for making an effort, even if one resorts to the occasional mix, and neither the one who compliments the cake nor the one who put it together (even if not from scratch) should be uncomfortable or embarassed. I just made my daughter’s birthday party this weekend and I “made” her cake from a mix (hmmm, I wonder if that’s the cake from a mix you were referring to? Wink, wink!) I baked everything else from scratch but just didn’t have time to do the cake from scratch too. I could have ordered it from a bakery, but it was important to me to let her help me make it and to decorate it myself. So, while I did resort to a mix for time and ease purposes, I was still proud of the outcome and had no problem admitting I used a mix for the cake. I say if you use a shortcut once in a while, hold your head up and admit it. You still get credit for intent and effort.

  2. As a non-cook, I have a tendency to idolize those who cook from scratch, because that’s the old ideal stereotype I carry with me from childhood. I’m sure in the past I’ve asked someone if they made the cake, not realizing I was laying on the pressure for it to be made from scratch! Who cares?! It’s a good cake – that’s the point. I am eager to shed these old pressures as I take baby steps into taking back my kitchen. I think Alma’s pointing out that a lot of people carry those old stereotypes, whether they realize it or not. I agree with jsmom “hold your head up” but I don’t agree with “admit it” because that implies you’ve done something naughty. I say hold your head up and “enlighten them”!

  3. Speaking as an experienced and pretty good home chef, I often encounter many apologies from people who either are cooking for me or who contribute dishes to events I attend. These apologies, such as “oh it’s nothing compared to what you make” or “i had no time, I just threw together some bought ingredients, you always cook for me, I’m sorry” etc. – these comments make me feel hideously awful. Firstly, it implies I might judge them. Secondly I cook special things for my friends because I love them and if for any reason my efforts result in awkwardness or insecurity down the road, I feel like my efforts have somehow backfired. I want people to feel good. On top of it, I love jello light and fruity pie, I love cheetos, devil dogs and hamburger helper, take out food, tv dinners, you name it. I cook elaborate meals because it’s fun, i love to create, and it’s a good way to procrastinate. I don’t have a snobby palette. I just have a hobby. So as far as etiquette goes, I wish the novices would stop making me feel like I might be judging them. I don’t. It’s nice to be fed by others regardless of where the food came from.

    Soon-Yi

  4. I don’t have much to add to the discussion of homemade vs. scratch vs. semi homemade. Actually, I do. I think semi-homemade is a wonderful thing. It is also important to remember that people are always happy when you hand them something good to eat, however it got there. Here’s a couple of things you can do with celery root: oh so delicious is a celery root “slaw” – grate it coursely or slice it in thin strips on a mandoline. Make a dressing from lemon juice, mayo, salt and pepper and mix it together. You can also make a puree similar to mashed potatos.

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