My husband was encouraging my teenage daughter to take home economics this year.
“That’s so I don’t end up like mom, right?”
It’s true. I don’t like cooking. Okay, I’ll be more specific. I loathe cooking. I would camp out in frigid weather in front of the first store to make a Star Trek food replicator available. I find the whole process as distasteful as, well, my cooking.
Cooking is so time-consuming, reading recipes, trying to ascertain whether my kids would eat it and if I have all the ingredients. Invariably, I have all the ingredients, but one; some obscure spice I’ll use a pinch of and pitch into my expired collection of one pinch wonders.
I’m not good in the kitchen. I hate the steps and the time it takes and the drippy “I’ve used every bowl in the place and a flowerpot from the garage” mess. I often undercook things only to compensate by overcooking them. I have special powers not unlike scientists who genetically alter food, except that I can make food indistinguishable and disgusting.
This could be related to the fact that I struggle to follow a recipe. I don’t follow recipes. I’m thrifty and I’m always looking for a way to use some gunk in a plastic container threatening to foul my fridge. With this in mind, my meals fall into three categories:
- The “fantastic” meal. My husband will eat it quickly, as if he’s afraid it’s a mirage. “We’ll never see this again,” he comments, as he shovels it in.
- The “edible” meal. My husband gets this grim look of determination on his face. “Let’s get this over with,” he says, as he puts his head down, not unlike he did when he played football.
- The unpalatable “meal”. In which case, I chortle, as I scrape it into the grocery bag from whence it came.
Oh, I’ve had some doozies; the pork roast I made that smelled like a pig barn, the goopy, gray, garlic potato concoction, the cake my guests and I watched explode in my oven because I used the wrong size pan, the whole wheat diet cinnamon buns. Way to ruin a classic, Polly!
I’m not saying there aren’t moments of enjoyment in the kitchen, because food is wonderful. I love the vibrant, crayon box colors of vegetables. The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking is divine. Who can resist the bubbly, cheesy goodness of lasagna?
But, there seems to be more negatives than positives for me; anytime I have to cut up poultry, for instance, with its slimy skin and booger-y bits. What a turn off! Then there’s the dishwater after a big meal, with all the bobbing, churning blobs that make me want to hurl. I once found my two-year old daughter dipping an over-sized spoon into such froth.
“Soup!” she said as she put the swamp water to her lips.
One year on Mother’s Day, my youngest daughter gave me a card she made at school. Statements were started for her and she filled in the blanks. My oldest daughter read the card aloud.
“My mom is such a good cook.” She paused and said, “They’re assuming all moms are good cooks.” I didn’t flinch.
She continued reading, “My favorite thing my mother makes is ham and pineapple pizza.”
Ha ha! My daughter’s favorite dish is prepared in a factory by strangers in hairnets, frozen rock hard and packaged in a cardboard box. That’s my girl! Make no mistake, friends, I’m a whiz at frozen food. Except, of course, for that one time I put the pizza in the oven with the cardboard still underneath it and set the cardboard on fire. My children are kind enough to remind me of this regularly.
It’s obvious I have a problem. My family and I have to eat, but I hate to cook. I’ve been thinking about a solution. I can’t afford to eat out every day or hire a private chef. I tried calling the folks at Meals on Wheels, but they refuse to come to my house. That restraining order was completely uncalled for. I guess I’ll have to stick to finger food; the kind of food where the only preparation required is picking it up. Wait a second. I’ve got it! We could live on a cruise ship! Chips Ahoy, Mates!