For the first 24 years of my life, I was never much of a chef. I’ve always said that I just “can’t cook“. But really, I had never even tried. I don’t know what it is about me, or if any of you have noticed, but I tend to be pretty self-deprecating when it comes to just about everything about myself. For the longest time, I blamed my lack of culinary vision on my mother. I don’t know why, but in my mind, I felt as though she was never adventurous in the kitchen, or ever cooked great meals for us, when in reality, my mom would cook for us almost nightly until I was in high school. She made dinner every night, and I’m not talking about something frozen that she just tossed in the microwave or oven. We rarely even went out to eat, because she always cooked for us, right up until high school, which is when I started only eating soup or salads, or heated up a frozen dinner or a can of soup for myself. You know, super complex dishes and whatnot.
Thinking back now, I can actually remember her making a lot of things. I remember her making pork chops and mashed potatoes at least once a week, because they were my step father’s favorite. I also remember her spaghetti and meatballs, her crock pot chilli, and her famous “rice stuff“, which was just sausage, rice, tomato sauce, and onions and peppers, all baked in the oven, but it was delicious. And, of course, Shepherd’s Pie, which is a New England staple. At the time, I didn’t hold much of an interest in learning about food, or cooking, and I think that is why I overlooked everything that she made for us, and never picked up any of it for myself.
Cut to college, where I lived mostly off of Ramen noodles and mac ‘n cheese, not because it was all I could afford, but because I couldn’t even boil pasta. I couldn’t make rice. I had no idea how to cook anything on the stove, or in the oven. I had no idea how long to cook ANY type of meat, or anything about temperatures. Food processors? Broilers? Crock pots? What? Forget it. Luckily, I had my then-boyfriend with me to teach me a few basics, which I carried with me into adulthood.
In the nearly two years since my son was born, I’ve come a long way. I can name at least 6 different types of pastas, all of which I have used. I can cook potatoes three different ways. I have over a dozen spices and seasonings in my arsenal, and I know which ones pair well together. I can cook any meat without it coming out tasting like rubber. I can also nail pretty much any recipe that you put in front of me. I’ve even created a few of my own, that didn’t end in disaster. And my baking isn’t half bad either!
Recently, I bought my first ever Crock Pot. I am obsessed with it. I’ve used it 6 times so far this month alone, and I can’t believe I ever survived without it. Since I am surrounded by needy kids all day, I love being able to set and forget, and have my house filled with yummy smells all day long. I’ve made Crack Chicken sandwiches, baked potatoes, sour cream and chives cheesy potato wedges, taco seasoned home fries, and I currently have all of the ingredients for some homemade chicken noodle soup in there, which hopefully will be done by lunchtime. It already smells divine.
I don’t know why I was always so hard on myself, or why I never gave cooking a chance. I guess it was easier to just say, “I can’t cook, I could probably burn water!” instead of just trying. Not anymore. Cooking is fun for me now. It helps me unwind, and it has given me so many possibilities for feeding my family, and keeping us healthy. And who doesn’t love a woman who can cook? If you are afraid to start cooking, just jump in!
Oh, and always remember to turn your appliances off when you’re done!
Thanks for reading, friends!
[In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 11/21/2016 |.Aromatic]