Cooking with the Chideyas Farai Chideya offers a glimpse inside her mother's kitchen, and tells us what happens when she battles her mother and sister for the unspoken title of "best cook" in the Chideya family.
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Cooking with the Chideyas

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Cooking with the Chideyas

Cooking with the Chideyas

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This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

(Soundbite of "The Nutcracker Suite")

CHIDEYA: Holidays mean food. At my family's table, you'll find golden sugar cookies with a hint of brown around the thin edges, rich and gooey squares topped with chocolate chips, and pastries, including my mother's famous black walnut pound cake.

Some families play out their rivalries through sports. Other folks, including me, my mother Cynthia, and my sister Sakai(ph), head for the kitchen. Let me take you inside our holiday cooking madness.

I'm here at the Casa Chideya, the land of all good cooking, and my sister, who doesn't like to be on the radio, is making sweet potato pie. And my mom is making a 15-pound squash that she grew herself in the backyard.

Ms. SAKAI CHIDEYA (Sister): And Farai is going to do the pie crust.

CHIDEYA: Yup. I'm just here to serve, just a member of the conscription army.

Ms. S. CHIDEYA: Which means later this evening we'll have to go out and get some Pillsbury piecrust.

CHIDEYA: Oh. Liars.

Did I say my sister didn't like to be on the radio? Who knew she was such a ham?

Mashing over a hot bowl of sweet potatoes.

(Soundbite of mashing)

CHIDEYA: But I wasn't off the hook for long.

Ms. CYNTHIA CHIDEYA (Mother): It's time to roll out the piecrust.

CHIDEYA: See, this is what happens to me when I come home. I'm just a mere humble servant of Chideya Incorporated. So with that I'll get ready to roll up my sleeves and do some work.

(Soundbite of mashing and cheering)

Ms. S. CHIDEYA: Yeah! Let's take a nap, mom.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: See, I was trying to stay off the playing field this time. I'm not a bad cook, if I do say so myself. But sweet potato pies are one of my mom's specialties. So when my sister decided to try, my mom was supportive, at least on the surface. But even setting the temperature of the oven was a tug-of-war.

Ms. C. CHIDEYA: No. I don't think it's there now, but go ahead. No, go ahead.

CHIDEYA: Extreme cooking, Chideya edition.

Ms. S. CHIDEYA: Mom threw dishes at me. Damn, mom.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: The subtext of every Chideya cooking session: you love me, you really love me, don't you? And of course we do love each other, and we show it through our little rivalries, not despite them. After all, we share the same obsession.

My mom, my sister and I are all the kind of people who talk about new pots and rolling pins the way some people talk about their cars. We respect each other in the kitchen and outside of it.

Ms. S. CHIDEYA: Not only do I have those but I have these. Ooh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: Full pie, piecrust potential.

While the pie is baked, my sister's friend, Ron, came over for a visit. He brought a scrumptious butter poundcake that he made from his grandmother's recipe.

RON (Friend): When you cook for someone, you're taking time. It's not like going and buying something, because you have to prepare it. You are thinking about the person as you are preparing it, and to me, it's just much better than a physical store-bought gift.

CHIDEYA: My sister's pies, by the way, turned out great. They weren't like my mom's, less sweet and more spicy. They were still absolutely fabulous, and our family loved them.

All right, I need everybody to say how delicious the dessert is.

Unidentified Man #1: The dessert is delicious.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: So Ron, what do you think? Is it good?

RON: It's very good. This is the best dessert I've had this year.

CHIDEYA: Have you had any dessert?

Unidentified Man #2: No, I haven't.

CHIDEYA: What are you waiting for?

Unidentified Man #2: For everybody to get out of the way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. C. CHIDEYA: Okay, time to stop recording.

CHIDEYA: You got it, mom. And there you have it. Cooking brings the whole family together, if you don't kill each other first. Happy holidays.

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