When I was first married, I really only had a couple dishes that I could make with anything even close to pride. One of the selling points of marrying my husband was that he TOLD me he could cook. Of course, it wasn't until after we were married that I began to learn a key fact about my husband...while not necessarily making stuff up, presenting it in such a way as to make the listener believe that there is a lot more going on than is technically accurate, is THE NORM.
Having a job as a cook in a Mexican restaurant for six months when you are in your stoner twenties does not make you Rick Freakin Baylis. A week, A WEEK, after our marriage, I was informed that he had reached the limits of his talents in the kitchen and it was now MY turn to cook. Seventeen years later, no one has wrenched the baton from my hand and this relay race has turned into a marathon.
The thing that he failed at is the realization that the human brain has the capacity to learn new things. Being brought up in the midwest surrounded by jello with marshmallows and grated carrots (seriously, WHAT THE FUCK???), and then moving down to Oklahoma where they serve chicken fried steak along with vegetables coated in goo and fried, it is amazing that I have actually survived at all. Also, while I desperatly enjoy reading the church lady cookbooks that have 421 recipes, all involving velveeta and mayonaise, in the end they are best left adorning the shelf and giving your guests the impression that once in your life, just perhaps, you actually stepped into a church.
As I've said before, the more weight I lose (70 pounds so far), the more I want to use calories to eat good things, not just things to fill the gob hole. I've always been a sucker for cooking shows and since getting hi def tv, I've been learning a lot from America's Test Kitchen and it's sister show, Cook's Country. Up until now, most cookbooks and cooking shows just tell you what to do, not WHY you're doing it. Now that I'm learning a lot of the "why", I'm getting better in other areas of cooking as well. Also, not being one for blind allegiance, I'm finding that I really do follow their recipes because they've already done every single one eleventy million times and you know that in at least one of those eleventy million times, they changed it and did it the way that you're thinking and OBVIOUSLY, it sucked so don't waste your time.
I've recently gotten the last two annuals which have all that year's magazines in hardcover and I've also gotten the Cook's Country Cookbook. Thus far, every single recipe I've tried has been amazing. Nothing has fallen down, leaving me with my arms in the air in a gesture of supplication as the smoke roils through my kitchen and I shout to the heavens "Ming Tsai! How could you lead me to believe that you could make a damn pot of rice that way????"
Although I think I'm getting some skillz, I must admit, I don't really press my kids to learn to cook. My daughter is EXACTLY like I was at her age. "Call me when it's ready and NOT UNTIL!!!" (She recently asked if I knew that I didn't HAVE to grate my own parmesean cheese. "Do you know that you can just get it in this green can and it's all ready to use?" I told her she was giving me Vietnam flashbacks to my childhood.) My son, on the other hand, actually asks me ahead of time to be in charge of something when I cook a big meal. While it used to be things like making the Jiffy cornbread mix for the cornbread stuffing (cornbread stuffing is the ONLY good thing from the south), he has now graduated to bread and roll making.
So that's where I'm heading now. Into the kitchen to start cooking. I'll be listening to my favorite holiday tradition, Turkey Confidential, lighting some of my favorite candles (thank you Amy! Still enjoying the Cinnamon bun candle!) and sharing the very small space with my personal baker. The food is secondary and the meal is an afterthought but that time in the kitchen together? That's what I'm thankful for.