Real men love to cook

Some men limit their cooking (or charring) skills to the grill, remaining the holiday hotdog/hamburger specialist.

There are those in the “unable to even scramble an egg” category.

Then, there are the aficionados who embrace the kitchen and the minutiae of chopping, measuring, seasoning and presentation.

In between are a handful of males who, like Michael Barney, gravitated to the kitchen by necessity.

“In the 18 years between marriages, I learned to enjoy cooking and sharing dishes with friends and family,” Barney said.

During this period, Barney was also the primary caregiver for his elderly parents. When his three sisters and their families visited from out-of-state, he came to take pride in serving favorites and first-time experimental dishes.

For several years, Barney hosted his own Christmas cookie-making weekend party with four to six friends, creating up to one hundred dozen cookies each year.

“We took some to nursing homes and gifted friends, co-workers and families with mixed-assortments of our own traditional recipes.”

Along the way, Barney acquired his collection of high-quality cookware. He regularly puts to good use various pieces from Le Creuset, All-Clad and Calphalon.

“You find that better cookware makes better food,” Barney said. “My mother taught me how to clean up as you go, so as not to end up mired in a stack of dirty pots and pans.”

Barney particularly favors grilling, crock pot creations, pasta dishes and desserts and adds, “I would like to learn how to make more exotic sauces.”

Barney Family Sugar Cookies

Cream together in mixer:

2 sticks butter

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond extract

1 egg

Mix separately and add to mixture above:

2 ½ cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Cream of Tartar

Refrigerate overnight. Roll out 1/8” thick. Bake 8-10 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Ice with chocolate, lemon or powdered-sugar frosting flavored with a liqueur such as amaretto.

Makes 3-4 dozen.

Barney’s friends clamor for his horseradish sauce, a recipe he long ago clipped from the newspaper.

Horseradish Sauce

½ cup mayonnaise (can use no fat or low fat)

2 tbsp horseradish

2 tsp (or to taste) dark hot sauce

Mix ingredients together & serve over marinated eye of round.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at labro16@yahoo.com.