Updated: Jan 3
Cooking is an art and like any art form, you get better with practice. Some take a sincere interest in cooking from very young, like myself. Others, not so much. That doesn't mean you can't cook. Sure you can.
Not everyone has natural talent in all areas. For some, certain things just come more easily than for others. Naturally coming easily doesn't mean we don't have to hone our skills and practice or that we are not always learning.
My first suggestion when trying something new is to have patience. If you aren't thrilled about cooking, I get it. It doesn't excite everyone. I'm no athlete, I never was. But I tried, and tried my best. That's what counts. Did I always succeed. Hell no. But at least I participated. I didn't say, "I can't." I just resigned to myself that I won't ever make the Olympics. That's ok.
When I was in elementary school I came home disappointed.
Me to my dad, "I came in third in the race."
Dad, "What's wrong with that? You did a great job."
Me, "There were only three people in the race!"
My dad couldn't stop laughing and all these years later, he still has a good laugh. If nothing else, your cooking escapades will provide years of humor! And laughter is the best medicine.
I never became an outstanding athlete, but I never gave up and always tried my best and was proud of myself. That's what counts. You don't have to win a gold medal, you just have to try hard and have fun.
Even though I've been cooking from a small child, I've had my share of mishaps through the years. I laughed it off, learned and tried again. You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Don't give up!
Funny Fail: Years ago, when I married the first time and was still eating meat (why I don't eat mean anymore), I decided to make a meatloaf. Dear Lord, it's a miracle we are both still alive. Although I'd been cooking for years, I never made my own meatloaf. Let's just say, my ex and I each took a bite, looked at each other and gagged. It was DISGUSTING and I'll be the first to admit it. I don't know what I did wrong, but, even the garbage wanted to expel it.
He made a Boston Market run that night!
I'm happy to say, I've since mastered the meatloaf and my current husband and family LOVE it. In fact, my husband requests it often, with ground turkey.
Timing is everything. Learn timing. If the spinach takes ten minutes to cook but the peppers take twenty, start the peppers first.
Gather all ingredients, prep before you start cooking. Peel, wash and chop everything prior to putting anything into a pot or oven.
Clean as you go as best you can. Wash a few items, then stop to stir something or check a dish in the oven, then get back to washing or loading the dishwasher. You won't feel so overwhelmed.
Try to use the least amount of items as possible. Do you have a casserole dish that can go from the oven to the table then into the dishwasher? Can you mix the mashed potatoes in the serving bowl you will put onto the table? What about serving in glass bowls that can be covered and go into the fridge to store leftovers. You can also heat up in the microwave or oven for another meal during the week.
Cook enough for several meals. When you are rushed or tired, just heat up. Make dishes that freeze well and save for another day. Isn't it wonderful to come home from work on a cold winter night and have soup waiting in the freezer. Just heat and enjoy! Tip: I personally prefer to reheat soup on the stovetop rather than in the microwave. In my opinion, it stays hotter longer.
You may never become a top chef, but you can at least make food that's edible, enjoyable and, survivable.
Horror Story with A Funny Twist: When my son was a baby, he was very sick for a week straight. He wanted no one but me. I was going on no sleep, working full-time, and completely exhausted. My ex thought he was doing me a favor and brought home cans of stew. We heated it, and ate. THANKFULLY, I didn't feed it to my son!
That night, we both woke up very sick. I'm talking throwing up, diarrhea, terrible stomach pain - FOOD POSOINING. Which I had to deal with on top of taking care of a very sick eleven month old.
My only consolation was my ex was much worse off than I. Why? My opinion is the meat was bad. I didn't like the meat (not that it tasted bad or turned or rotten), so I picked mine out and put it on his plate!!!!! I essentially poised him. Oh well, he deserved it, after all he is an ex for a reason. I still chuckle thinking how karma works in mysterious ways.
The lesson learned; I'd rather make a grilled cheese sandwich the "easy way" with no mess and little preparation and clean up than eat anything out of a can again ever.
Grilled Cheese the Easy Way: I prefer to make grilled cheese in a frying pan in butter, however, when I'm tired, I make it the easy way. I line the toaster oven with tin foil. I butter both sides of gluten free bread and place cheese on each slice of bread. I place both slices into the toaster oven and set on toast. When the cheese melts slightly, take out of the oven and put the bread together like a sandwich. I place it back on the foil in the toaster oven and put the oven on broil. WATCH CAREFULLY SO IT DOESN'T BURN. When the top of the sandwich browns, flip it over and let the other side brown. Eat off of foil or paper plate. No mess, no fuss, no clean up.
The first time you try to cook or make a new recipe, you may not exactly nail it. Just ask my mom and Aunt about their rice story! This incident happened before my mom was married and my parents were just married 58 years. But, mom and my Aunt STILL LAUGH had have fun over the rice story!
Rice Story: Mom and my Aunt were home with just my grandfather and they decided to make rice for a dish they were cooking. They were feeding a lot of people. What they didn't realize was that rice grows. They made a ridiculous amount of rice and it was like a volcano in the kitchen. Mom, my Aunt and Grandpa were all running with bowls, catching exploding, erupting rice and placing it all over the kitchen. Needless to say, they had a vat of rice and could have fed the National Guard!
My grandmother, the amazing cook, the woman who could make a cardboard box taste good, got a good laugh over their escapades.
I'm happy to say, both my mom and Aunt have since learned to cook rice properly and in the correct amount and give fair warning to others to this day.
You can cook (for the recipes for the above dishes, see my home page). You just have to keep at it. If you never fall in love with cooking, that's ok. It's my passion, but it may not be yours. I can spend hours in the kitchen, listening to my favorite music on Alexa as I cook, dancing between cooking and cleaning or as I'm chopping vegetables. I sometimes sing too. Trust me, that's so NOT a good thing. My poor husband and three pups.
Try cooking when you are relaxed, when you have time and make it fun. Pour a glass of wine, turn on music, cook with a partner (best friend, significant other) and try your best. If you are cooking for people you care about, and cook from your heart you will do ok. Keep a sense of humor and remember, practice makes perfect.
If you have any questions, reach out to me.
Do you have a funny cooking story or a horror story? Leave a comment on this blog post.