When it comes to the spectrum of New Year’s resolutions, I generally fall on the “why bother with all that nonsense since I’d never keep it anyways” side of things rather than “I must change my life the instant that the clock strikes midnight.” But this year, I’m contemplating the idea (notice I haven’t entirely committed just yet) of making a resolution this year. So what would be my grand goal? Cooking.
Ok, confession time. I hate…no, I loathe cooking. For whatever reason, my brain has never grasped the concept of how to mix spices or different kinds of food groups to create a delicious plate of food. When I do reach for the skillet or saucepan (hey, at least I know the names of pans!), I can get about 10 minutes into the cooking process before getting completely aggravated for one reason or another.
The food isn’t cooking properly. It’s taking too long. It’s cooking too fast. The flavor is all wrong. I’m getting hot and sweaty. I’ve boiled things over two or three times. The stove is covered in crap. I don’t know where I put the vegetable oil.
So by the time everything is done and on my plate, I’m no longer hungry. The food has completely lost its appeal. This is why my claim to fame is Kraft mac ’n’ cheese (not kidding, ask anyone in my family). Oh, and quesadillas. But c’mon- who doesn’t love a quesadilla?!
One of my greatest cooking fails of all time involved anchovies. What can I say…I was overly ambitious. It all began with Rachel Ray. My man (his name is Cal by the way) saw a video of a pasta dish. I watched it, and it didn’t make me cringe (a rare occurrence since most recipes seem exhausting and labor intensive). It was recipe for Caesar Spaghetti, and Rachel made it look easy. Cook the pasta. Wilt down the leafy greens. Melt some anchovies in oil. Mix in some lemon juice, pepper, nutmeg and cheese. Serve. Of course, Rachel is chattering away in her video as the dish almost magically comes to life in maybe the span of about five minutes. So I figured if it took Rachel only five minutes to whip up that dish, it might take me 30 to 45 minutes – my version of a five-minute meal.
I was feeling myself. Ready to beat Rachel-with-the-good-hair at her own game. My husband would be so impressed!
It all started out so promising. The spaghetti was cooking. The leafy greens were washed, chopped and ready to get wilted.
Then EVERYTHING WILTED; including my ego. It was all because of those darn anchovies! They just wouldn’t melt! They just fried until they were little, tiny anchovy bits soaked in oil. Kind of like boogers now that I think of it.
Maybe the oil was too hot? Batch two cooked on a lower heat.
Nope! Still boogers!
By this point, I’m sweating, majorly stressed out over these stupid little fish and cussing like a sailor at both the pan and the recipe (“Rachel said they were supposed to melt! Why aren’t they *expletive* melting!”) To top it off the entire apartment stunk like a fish market on the 4th of July. The third batch wasn’t any better, but that was the last of the anchovies, so into the pasta it went.
Let’s not even talk about the leafy greens. Don’t ask.
I really wasn’t hungry by the time that cooking nightmare was over, especially since all I could smell was icky fish, but we both took an optimistic bite.
The flavor inspired an immediate gag reflex, so yeah, both those plates went directly into the garbage. It was that nasty. We had Wendy’s for dinner that night.
Like I said. Epic fail.
If I was single and living alone with just my cat, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. I have a deep, undying love of sandwiches, which is one of the easiest things to make in the world. But I’m not single. I’m married…married to a man who is obsessed with cooking.
Cooking is a stress reliever, he says. It’s therapeutic, he says. It also means I’m rarely in the kitchen (fine by me!). I stand back (or sit on the sofa) and let him work. He’ll pull a dozen spice containers out of the cupboard for his dinner preparations. I have no clue what they are, aside from salt and pepper. He almost never refers to a recipe and relies completely on his own food knowledge and well-developed taste buds. There’s a very good reason why I’ve gained at least five pounds since we got married six months ago. I eat like a queen, and it is so freaking delicious.
Homemade truffle mac ’n’ cheese. Chicken and arugula flatbread drizzled in balsamic vinegar. Chicken and rotini swirled with peppers, tomatoes and alfredo sauce. Baked chicken dripping in homemade barbecue sauce. Aromatic chicken noodle soup (no comparison to Campbells here). And my personal favorite, a red sauce that is sweet, savory, garlicky and tomato-y that simmers on low for at least 12 hours before getting poured over a mound of pasta.
Hungry yet? Me too.
Basically, the man is a genius around spices and food.
So what’s the problem? I hate cooking; he loves cooking. Sounds like a perfect set-up, right?
Here’s my reasoning for this resolution. There are days he doesn’t want to cook or doesn’t have time to cook or doesn’t have the energy to cook after a long day. So I take up the occasional slack by cooking things like Kraft mac ’n’ cheese and quesadillas. And that’s when I feel bad. I couldn’t cook him a nice meal even if he asked for it. Plus, it’s slightly embarrassing to be out-cooked by your husband on a daily basis.
I know I’ll never cook as good as he does, but it would be nice to be able to hold my own in the kitchen and not have to ask him which container holds the garlic powder and which holds the onion powder.
So even though cooking and I don’t have the greatest of relationships, maybe I can swallow my hatred long enough to learn some basic skills this year so my husband won’t go hungry on days he doesn’t want to cook.