Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mindy Learns to Cook

It is hard to believe that I made it through my life up until this year without ever learning how to cook. Of course I earned my baking badge in Girl Scouts, and can follow a recipe, and can set a lovely table and arrange food in a pleasing way on a platter, but I have never been responsible for feeding myself or my family.

Let me explain. My mother is a good cook, she owns somewhere around 200 cookbooks and as I was growing up she would pick a different recipe, usually a casserole, and try to make it for dinner. A lot of times she would substitute ingredients called for with what was on hand, and our meals began not with saying grace but with an explanation of what was in there compared to what was supposed to be. I learned to like a variety of foods and eat whatever I was served, but somehow this process never allowed for mother-daughter cooking instruction which is how I assume other people come about their early culinary knowledge. Then I was off to college where food was served up in the dormitory cafeteria and in the sorority house we had Roxanne the cook. By the time I finally lived alone in my first little apartment, I took up eating sandwiches and then going out a lot. I remember my friends laughing at my refrigerator which was classic bachelor: a bottle of ketchup, some beer and a pizza box. Around that time Larry was full into his attempts to woo me into marriage, and so he'd show up after work with a bag of groceries and even the pans to cook it up in. Well a girl has to eat so I became Mrs. Larry on the understanding that he would take care of the food part, and so he continued to cook for us until I left work last March and decided it was time I give it a try.

My first dinner was from the Gang Gai recipe that Darrin sent me, and I told you how that went, it was a start. I have been trying different things since then and learning as I go. I can't say that I really like standing up in the kitchen (it hurts my feet) and trying to make it go all together at the right time in the right way. But I have learned that there is more to this than just following a recipe. It is the planning of the meals for the week, and the shopping to make sure that we are stocked up with what we need, and for us the extra complication of food allergies that adds up to an enormous challenge.

I am amazed that I made it this far in my life without really contemplating the basic function of feeding. It goes all the way back to the cavemen. Every living thing really. But in my princess-y world my perspective has gotten twisted by always having my food provided and thinking more about watching my figure and NOT eating everything I wanted to so I could fit into my skinny jeans. Suddenly I am tuned in to the fact that there is hunger in this world, and it's different than the hunger that I felt when I was on a fad diet. It's that people need to keep eating every day, (Our Daily Bread! Now I get it!) and that has to come from somewhere, and someone has to fix it. And now I can think back on all the conversations about food and recipes that I patiently waited through, glazed over, all the way back to my grandmothers, and why food has always been so important to everybody. Wow! And now I'm in on it!

So today I decided to make pancakes for dinner since Timmy had picked out breakfast sausage at the store, and I wanted to avoid turning on the oven since it's hot outside. I got out a recipe but decided to use whole wheat flour since it's healthier. And since Tim's allergic to eggs I put in some baking soda for a little lift. And blueberries, they're antioxidants. But I should have measured the salt, I might have put too much. OK so they came out really BAD. The table conversation turned to what will happen now that I'll going to be going back to work, and Larry is thinking that maybe he will be the cook again.


Heather Leigh said...

I'm with you, cooking does not appeal to me in the least, and I'm happy to have Kevin at the helm of the kitchen. Even when I had a 2 week break between jobs, I tried it, wasn't horrible at it, but found it exhausting (although at times fulfilling - ever feel like you should be the one to feed your family? Well, for those 2 weeks, I did, and I felt like I was finally being a "good" or proficient wife and mother.) But, in the end, Kevin went back to his domain, and I keep us in clean clothes.

Anonymous said...

Blogging about your princess attitude creeps me out. I felt that attitude would disappear once you mastered the basics of cooking, and pour e.v.o.o. like Rachel Ray. Those blueberry pancakes looked so unappealing!! The true test is if the birds won't eat it, either. So glad that Larry will do a lot or at least share the cooking. And continue the barbeques, holiday sweet potato casserole, cakes, etc..You really are lucky to have him share household duties like that, and do all his handyman and gardening stuff, etc. You should be writing an ode to Larry before you discontinue blogging. love, Aunt Chris

Aunt Kathy said...

I remember when you guys came for a visit, and I made a wonderful allergy free big breakfast. I relyed on oven potatoe slices, bacon & sausage, lots of breads. and a variety of fresh fruits. There have been lots of cooking mistakes over the years, too. Don't give up! Cooking can be a blast!

Becky said...

Mindy - Your description of mom's dinner preamble was hilarious! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

I think it is her fault we don't cook. She made us dislike it because of the horrific mess and complicated recipies.

I'm glad she doesn't know how to read this blog. Becky

Anonymous said...

Didn't everyone grow up where substituting ketchup for fresh grated parmesean in casseroles was perfectly normal?
Mary Beth