Taylor Hartman planned to rise early this morning and cook omelets for his wife and four young daughters.
"He always makes breakfast on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings," said Jean Hartman, Taylor's wife and, by his account, "the real cook in the family."
"I'm the fake cook," Hartman said with a laugh, sitting with Jean in the living room of their spacious Coto de Caza home. "I make my omelets two or three times a month, and that's about it. Oh yeah, I also do cereal."
Hartman, 38, a psychotherapist in private practice in Laguna Hills, may joke about his limitations in the kitchen, but he jokes about a lot of things.
Like his "years and years of experience as a professional cook."
"In high school," he said, "I was a cook at Der Wienerschnitzel. Fantastic cuisine. Then I went to Brigham Young University, where I also worked as a cook."
"He worked in the cafeteria!" Jean Hartman interjected.
On the occasions Hartman dons an apron at home, the food tends to flow rapidly in all directions.
"The girls love it when Dad's in the kitchen," he said. "They chop and slice and dice and pop food in their mouths as we go--I let them get away with stuff like that. And of course we drop a lot of food on the floor. We're messier than Mom."
Growing up in Long Beach with six siblings, Hartman learned early that mealtime "was fun time. Sitting at the table was never about having perfect manners and 'Don't speak unless you're spoken to' or any of that. Meals were happy times. "
Hartman enjoys going to restaurants. He said it makes no difference to him whether he's taking his daughters out for pizza or squiring his wife to an evening of haute cuisine. But maybe he's kidding about that, too.
"One night after we got married," he recalled, "I came home, and I saw Jean fixing this instant noodle mix.. . . I said, 'What are you doing?' She said, 'I know you used to eat this stuff every night, so I thought you loved it.' I said, 'Lady, this is why I got married. ' "
That--and the chance to cook omelets for his appreciative clan.
MIDDLE EAST MECCA OMELET Ingredients
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup boiled raisins (boil for 5 minutes)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup diced red delicious apples
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon oil Cooking Place cheese, raisins, walnuts and apples in small dishes near the stove. Whip together eggs, milk and a dash of salt and pepper until fluffy. Pour oil into omelet pan; heat pan over hot flame until oil barely begins to smoke. Turn flame to low. Pour eggs into pan.
Carefully lift edges of eggs with spatula until eggs are cooked (not runny). Sprinkle cheese, raisins, walnuts and apples onto one half of eggs; remove from flame. With spatula, fold eggs over to cover filling. Sprinkle additional cheese on top. Place in broiler for 20 seconds. Garnish with kiwi and oranges. Serves two.