Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The incremental chef.

One of my first forays (disasters) with cooking happened in Sunriver, Oregon, when I was babysitting my little brother and sister. They are 7 and 10 years younger, so I'd be responsible for cooking (destroying) dinner.

"Here's the Mac and Cheese," said my mother, planting a box of the processed food firmly on the kitchen counter.

It will be easy, I thought, all I have to do is mix the water and noodles, right? WRONG.

The oozy, goozy, creepy concoction that materialized in the pan reminded me of something you'd find in a hospital bedpan. It was slimy and yellow, chunky and chewy. I think the kids forced it down anyway, I was too scarred by my cooking gaffe to even notice.

I gave up on cooking after that for many, many years, until living in my very own apartment in college forced me to try. I remember calling my mother with a myriad of dumb questions:

"How do I microwave frozen vegetables?" (I first tried it without water, and the veggies came out wimpy and shriveled)

"What temperature do I cook chicken in a pan?" (Flashing back to memories of uncooked chicken strips a customer brought back when I worked in the zoo food court)

"How do I cook fish?"

Eventually, the onslaught of questions paid off, and now I love to cook. I love making soups, salmon, and spinach salads with cranberries and walnuts. I love making Shepherd's Pie, enchiladas, and casserole. I love browsing through recipes and creating new concoctions. Someday I'd love to cook on taste alone, and invent new recipes of my own.

I wish I had time to cook every day....maybe someday that time will come.


Em said...

Hahaha! I remember the Mac and Cheese thing...turned into a big family joke. But I can totally relate. You don't really understand the concept of cooking until you move out on your own and have to do it yourself. I still call mom and dad to ask them silly questions about it!

Paula said...

I worried about your lack of interest in cooking. But you were driven to it by dorm food and fast food overdose and now you're a good cook! The fact of life is, if you want to eat good, healthy, food, you gotta cook (unless rich enough to hire a cook). Constant take out/restaurant meals just don't cut it, for the wallet, for the pallet, or for the rear end.

Paula said...

Ooops, I said pallet, not palate, ha ha! Slightly different meaning.

Travis said...

Curtis is cooking dinner right now for us, thank god...I don't cook. You are lucky to have learned and to like it...I do not.

PS. calling mom for advice reminds me of my freshman year in college when I had to regularly call mom for laundry advice (until I ultimately gave up and paid a service to do it for me)

McRiguez said...

Sounds about the same for me, except the reason I REALLY didn't want to learn how to cook is that my dad would tell me "the only way to get a man is to learn how to cook". I think he slightly believed that before, and now, of course not. But it stuck with me. I thought, "he'll love me for my brain, not for my cooking abilities." So I rebelled and refused to learn how to cook. And then what happened? I had no idea what to do with the kitchen sophomore year. I got so discouraged that it was cereal and quesadillas for years. Now, I'm more of a baker than a cooker, but I'm slowly learning. And guess what? I actually *like* to cook and would LOVE to cook for a "man", but not just that, I find it fulfilling to provide a meal for someone I love, a friend, husband or children. That's what cooking is all about: providing nourishment for someone you love, including yourself.