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I don't know how to cook. I never learned. I have a HUGE mental block that kicks in whenever I see a recipe that requires I put more than two ingredients together. And a disgruntled impatience with the idea of a meal taking longer to prepare than it does to eat. The origin of all this, though, was growing up in the 70's, when women's lib was blossoming full flower. It was a matter of principle to me not to prioritize traditionally female skills. And my mom, who was more interested in law school than cooking herself, didn't worry too much about this gap in my education.

For the record, I was equally disinterested in my father's attempts to teach me how to change the oil in my car. I was an intellectual.

When Mom got busy in law school, my dad took over the cooking duties. Before he got married, he was a cook in the National Guard, so you can imagine the sort of stuff he made for us. He didn't bother to teach me to cook, either.

How did I eat once I didn't have the college mess hall to feed me? It helps not being a fussy eater, but lots of ways, really. You wouldn't believe what comes in cans and boxes and takes a couple minutes to nuke in the microwave. Later, there were girlfriends who cooked (I always dated women who could cook). And when I lost twenty pounds a few years back, it was in part because my mom had been on a crockpot cooking kick the year before.

I occasionally ate meals out, although I rarely relied on that. It was fattening. I did learn how to prepare a few things myself, like pasta, and my father's French Toast (which gave me heart palpitations, so I didn't make it very often). But see above re: two-ingredient cooking.

As I get older, though, I am wanting to take more charge of what goes into the food I eat, and that means learning a skill I never learned. "Never learned" is a sweeping generalization, I've found, though. Earlier this month, I decided to try my hand at Actual Cooking with a 17-ingredient beef stew. I actually knew quite a bit more about what I was doing than I imagined I did. You don't get to be [bleep] years old and not pick up a few tricks here and there.

I'm not saying the stew is particularly good, but I think it's more the recipe than me. Next time, I'm leaving out the onions, tomatoes, and oregano. But it was improved with some chopped chili peppers thrown in. And in the effort expended vs. outcome received department, I made a dozen portions to finish up.

My next experiment this past weekend was more successful: a black bean veggie wrap. I still strongly resent the time expenditure. As for Ingredient Overload, I try to concentrate on one line of the recipe at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Next up, baked fish, I think. And then mamculuna's Dharma Shala Soup.



Jan. 30th, 2014 01:03 pm (UTC)
I hope you have fun with the cooking! Even little things like making your own salad dressing or pasta sauce are quite liberating once you get the hang of it.
Jan. 30th, 2014 04:11 pm (UTC)
"The hang of it" being the operative phrase. I bought all the ingredients for a home-made salad dressing, and now I'm too busy grumbling about the time expense to actually make it.
Jan. 30th, 2014 10:01 pm (UTC)
Honey, dijon mustard, oil, vinegar, salt. Put in jar. Shake. You got a salad party right there.
Jan. 30th, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
I am assuming equal amounts of all four ingredients?
Jan. 30th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
Oh no, likely 1 tbsp of mustard, 1 tsp of honey, 2 tsps vinegar (red is nice), and 3 tbsps oil (olive or avocado can be pleasant). Then adjust to taste/desired consistency - more oil and vinegar make for a thinner dressing.
Jan. 30th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that was me funnin' with you.

; )
Jan. 31st, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
You just never know with you!
Jan. 31st, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
Masq: offering up spontaneous neuroses since 1999.

I made the salad dressing this AM. The recipe was slightly more complicated than yours. My main procrastinating thing was having to food-process-chop the garlic cloves.

I also baked a thing last night. Cinnamon apples with date/walnut stuffing. So cooking? Is a work in progress.