It looms before me every day. I cannot avoid it, despite how much I try. Whenever I am forced to enter its presence, I feel a hopelessness bordering on despair. I attempt to fight my aversion with every ounce of my being. I try to make the best of it, even when it mocks me. I hear it whisper; sensing my inadequacies. “Nice try, faker,” it hisses, “You know you can’t do it.”
I am talking about my kitchen.
Those who know me can attest to the fact that I hate to cook. Funny thing is, I love to eat. Allow me to rephrase that: I love to eat what other people have made. Peg Bracken wrote in her book, The I Hate to Cook Cookbook, “We who hate to cook have respect bordering on awe for the Good Cooks Who Like to Cook …we have little to say to them, really, except ‘Invite us over often, please.’ And stay away from our husbands” (pg 3).
One can’t fault me for not trying. I do attempt to make my family delicious (and if not delicious, edible) meals. Though, these meals are often served with a bit of drama on the side. The time I could not roll out the store-made pizza dough was one incident. Subsequently, the dough was thrown on the floor where I proceeded to stamp on it. “Flatten out, you stupid dough!” I yelled, “why don’t you just flatten out!”
Forgetting to put that little seasoning packet from the taco kit into the meat is a common occurrence; also forgetting that dinner is in the oven. (Thank Heavens for my kitchen fire alarm is all I can say.) One Easter, I wanted to make a baked french toast dish. The recipe called for challa bread. I used ciabatta instead. They both begin with the same letter, right? What could the big difference be? (A LOT, I can now tell you.)
My family has learned coping skills to deal with my cooking. “Interesting,” my 9 year old daughter said upon trying my white chili, “Could you just NEVER make this again?”
“How about take-out?” is my husband’s gentle (and always accepted) response.
My 3 year old son simply pushes his plate away and begins to pick his nose (inferring that he prefers the contents of his nostrils over my cooking).
Several years ago a miracle happened. The Lord, who is rich in mercy and pitied my family, gave us a neighbor who loved to cook. And not only did this little, spunky southern girl love to cook: she was excellent at it. But the poor thing had no idea what she was creating when she said, “Would ya’ll like to come over for dinner sometime?”
Sometime? We ate at her house like scavengers several times a week. (Okay, fine. Almost EVERY night of the week.) The food she cooked was like crack to our tacos-with-the-seasoning-packet- left-out stomachs. She served us things like grilled asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, seared pieces of beef I cannot even pronounce the names of. It was like heaven. My husband gained weight, I became relaxed, and my kitchen fire alarm took a rest.
But all good things come to an end. Our neighbor moved and we were devastated. And hungry. Suddenly, I was thrust back into the kitchen but now with the memories of our neighbor’s stuffed sole lingering in my mind. I tried to replicate her dishes, but with miserable results. I returned to my old faithful recipes and my kitchen fire alarm went back on duty.
I have mastered a few dishes, but I must be careful to not make them too often lest they lose their appeal. (“This again? Didn’t we just have this for dinner?” Is usually a sign I need to break it up.) I try to maneuver a few other meals into the rotation, but I put out a disclaimer that everyone should eat at their own risk.
And so I forge ahead. My kitchen and I have formed somewhat of a truce. It won’t taunt me as long as I don’t burn it down while heating up my kids’ waffles in the toaster oven.