Practical Advice For My Son #4 ~ How To Make A Roux

I have told you before, you can put almost anything in a good cream sauce and look like a genius cook to a date. To make a good cream sauce, you need to make a roux. I’ll bet you didn’t know how it was spelled, despite almost four years of French class. And we have been over this a few times, but I really don’t expect you will remember, so I am putting it here. Of course if you would like to call home and ask your mom, you can always do that too.

You need to melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Then add two tablespoons of flour, preferably Wondra, which is extra fine and will help you not have a lot of lumps but any flour will do. Normally you would whisk this up but I don’t really expect you to have a whisk, so take a large fork, use it flat and stir in circles against the bottom of the frying pan. Hopefully this is not a nonstick pan or it won’t survive many tries at this. Let this cook, stirring pretty frequently, until the flour turns golden brown. Once it is nice and golden, add 1 cup of milk and stir (whisk) constantly. You can use half milk and half broth if you like, it will be less creamy/thick and a bit more liquid, like a different kind of sauce. You can double this recipe, just keep the proportions the same. Generally I put a few drops of worcestershire and a few drops of tabasco to give it a bit of flavor. Salt and pepper will do.

You will want to let it bubble gently and it will thicken. If its too thick, add broth or milk. Generally speaking, a few sauteed boneless, skinless chicken breasts, some egg noodles and you are in business. Or some precooked shrimp (you can buy a bag) and some nice rice pilaf (comes in a box) and you are in business. Add a bagged salad and a storebought desert and poof! fabulous dinner for two.

If by some chance you want to make comfort food, one of your favorites, just buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it up and put it in the cream sauce, make buttered toast and voila! creamed chicken on toast. Remember if you add frozen peas, they will melt and add water so make your sauce a little thick.

A good roux can go a long way, there are many things you can do with a cream sauce. You can even put it over pork chops, or whatever. Experiment with flavors; just remember to smell things before you put them in… if it doesn’t smell good, if it doesn’t smell like it would go together, don’t do it.

Just remember 2, 2 and 1. Two tablespoons, two tablespoons and one cup. Roux is just one of those things that is good to know in life. It’s an easy trick that will take you far; like most things it is simple once you know how.

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Things I Want My Son To Know #18 ~ Life Gets In The Way

As is obvious by the inconsistency in the time between these posts, life sometimes interferes with the things we would like to do. When you are young you believe there is all the time in the world. In middle age you are too busy to realize that time is precious. As you reach the back side of middle age you realize that you have less time left than you thought.

I wish I had spent less time working and more time going to the park; that’s a mistake you don’t have to make with your kids. Supporting your family, paying your bills is important, but you can never get time with your kids back. I wish I could have let go of the tidy house thing a little so we could have played Quiddler more; that’s a mistake you don’t have to make with your kids. The chores are important, but you can never get the time back.

When you find yoursellf saying “but I have things to do”, “but I have to finish this work, project, laundry, whatever”, put it down and go outside, play ball, sing. It is hard to find the balance between getting things done that help make your life better, more productive or financially stable, and the things that bring you happiness. To find a place between work and play, drudgery and joy, that is the trick in life! If you are lucky, you will find work you love and that will help, but you have to remember to put the work down and dance with your wife, laugh with your kids and enjoy a sunny day.

Life has a way of getting in the way of life. Don’t just forge ahead, choose. Don’t just put one foot in the front of the other, dance. You are given one life, don’t let life’s challenges and chores get so in the way that you forget to live it.