Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art. —Unknown
When I was a kid, I would tell my mother that I wanted to live in a house without a kitchen. Actually, if I remember correctly, we had several conversations about it. I’m fairly certain that I’ve even brought up the subject with a couple of past boyfriends (just to let them know what they were in for—yes, I’m a courteous girl :).) And my poor husband, he knows all too well how much I LOATHE the kitchen. Turns out that it’s not really the kitchen that I have a problem with…I mean I always planned to have a microwave and a refrigerator (I’m not stupid.) What I really hate is the COOKING that takes place in the kitchen!
Maybe my dislike for cooking comes from possessing a very plain and boring palate. For example…I’m pretty much a beans and rice girl. When we go out for dinner I typically choose one of three entrees: cheeseburger, pizza or chicken, and I’m not really into sweets. There isn’t an adventurous bone in my body when it comes to trying new foods (asparagus anyone?) And I’m actually very okay with this. I view eating in the same manner that I see the need for sleep–a mere necessity and nothing more. I have a hard time relating to a lot of my foodie friends who rave about their latest food find and go on and on about “pairing” this delectable tidbit with that scrumptious delicacy (am I even using those words right?) I really just don’t get it.
In my own defense, I WANTED to get it. I wanted to be a so called “expert” in the kitchen. While I make a mean sandwich, there actually was a time when I secretly aspired to be whiz in the kitchen. I own a lot of cookbooks, including the elusive Joy of Cooking CD-ROM (lol) and at one point I was absolutely addicted to the Food Network. Like many stay-at-home moms, Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) were not only my idols, but also my best friends. As soon as it was acceptable for me to turn off Nickelodeon (11am or so) I would quickly click the channel to see what my “friends” were whipping up for lunch and dinner. Never has anyone been more into “homemade” and “from scratch” as yours truly. I was rolling out dough, making my own stock, and a regular in the fresh herb section at our local supermarket. I’m not sure if I crossed the line into “cooking obsessed,” but I’m pretty sure I was right on the edge. When my three year old daughter started to request tuning into Rachael Ray instead of Dora the Explorer I finally woke up.
To be honest, I was spending a lot of time, energy and money on a hobby that I hated. Not only did I not enjoy cooking, but truth be told, I was NOT very good at it. In hindsight, I realize that I was fighting a losing battle. Don’t get me wrong…I have the utmost respect for foodies and chefs alike. It just turns out that it’s not my thing. Slowly, I stopped turning in to the Food Network and filling my time with other things. I began adhering more to the Sandra Lee method of food prep—“Seventy percent store-bought, ready-made plus 30 percent fresh allows you to take 100 percent of the credit.” Her kitchen motto was all that was left of my so called “love of cooking.”
Needless to say, my family didn’t starve to death. Not once has any one ever said, “Oh, Anna, how I wish you could go back to making (fill in the blank.)” While there are few remaining recipes that I rely on all these years later, I don’t really sweat it…especially since my children inherited my same plain and boring palate. We primarily live on the basics: a variety of chicken dinners, tacos, spaghetti, LOTS of sandwiches and whatever my husband can grill. It’s not exciting, but it fills a hole. What used to make me feel like a failure as a wife and mother, now has crossed over into the realm of acceptance. I no longer want to be a good cook. If I could, I honestly would quit cooking altogether and live on cereal. Unfortunately, that is not an option. Sigh.
So here it is…I am over the mom pressure from the foodie crowd (I couldn’t grow or can anything to save my life.) I will be the first one to shout from the rooftops that being a successful wife, mother, & homemaker doesn’t mean that you are required to be a culinary genius, too. Just because you stay home with your kids does not mean your worth and value is tied up in what’s for dinner. Serving chicken nuggets does not make you less of a woman. I wish someone had told me all of this years ago. Today, the only chef I pay attention to on the Food Network is Guy Fieri…and that’s because I like to drool over the food (mostly cheeseburgers and barbeque) he samples on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Mmmmm….
I completely understand that no “knight-in-shining-apron” is going to come to my kitchen rescue anytime soon. Research shows that even in today’s modern society, woman are responsible for nearly 80% of household food prep. And while a growing number of men are becoming more and more comfortable in the family kitchen, I realize that meals will continue to fall into the woman/wife/mom category for the foreseeable future. And that’s okay because I’ve already been coaching my daughter to marry a chef. Problem solved. (You’re welcome.)
Today’s menu has two choices: TAKE IT or LEAVE IT!