Monday, May 7, 2012

Hey, I'm getting good at this!

Cooking has always fascinated me.

It's the sort of fascination that arises in a childish mind when constantly confronted by the end result of an apparently arcane art, the actual process of which is forbidden. In the environment in which I grew up, cooking was a "woman thing." Yeah, I know that sounds sexist and maybe it was, but not on the part of the men: In my entire life I've never been chased out of a kitchen by a man.

So I grew up with the unexamined assumption that any sort of cooking more complex than barbequing steaks or boiling water must be some really complex procedure requiring years of study and an absence of Y chromosomes. Seventeen years of active marriage did nothing to disabuse me of this, since my wife routinely chased me out of the kitchen, too.

It was a little frustrating: My very own glass ceiling.

One meal I have always especially enjoyed is pot roast. My wife, in the part of our marriage in which she made things I enjoyed eating, was very good at pot roast. One post-marriage day, possibly in a fit of longing for that long-dead part of my life, I got to craving pot roast and wondered whether I could somehow duplicate her efforts myself. I read up on it in an elementary cookbook, and it seemed simple enough. So I gathered materials and tried it - and it turned out all the women in my life had been scamming me, for all my life. My pot roast was as good as hers, because pot roast is very simple. So - and this really came as a shock - is roasted chicken.

I'm still working on bread, as regular readers know. Sometimes my bread comes out perfect. Sometimes, using exactly the same materials and procedures, it does the other thing. I'm still not completely clear on why. But quick breads are something I've gotten very good at. Like Jeremiah Johnson, I make damn good biscuits. The beauty of quick breads is that they're predictable. If you do the right things in the right way, they always come out good.

Yesterday, faced with a surplus of bananas resulting from last Wednesday's shopping trip, I impulsively tried my hand at banana bread. I love banana bread, but never tried to cook it. Again, it always seemed like a woman thing.

Not so!

Perfect! Take that, matriarchal oppressors!


Anonymous said...

I'm a pretty fair cook/baker, myself!
When I was working, my lasagne was begged for by my co-workers. And I've learned to use crystalline fructose in baking, as I'm diabetic, and it's more slowly absorbed than sugar!
Keep at it!

MamaLiberty said...

Looks wonderful, Joel. You'll be glad to know that both of my sons are excellent cooks, and the older one has worked in a commercial bakery. But he still can't make home made bread as well as I do.

He gets chased out of MY kitchen because he keeps trying to take over! LOL But, once in a while, I just let him go for it and do the cooking himself. It's a one person kitchen.

The non cook always does the dishes.

Oh, and both sons actually taught their wives to cook!!

WolfSong said...

I've never understood the logic to kicking the guy out of the kitchen. Doesn't do boy children any favors, them not learning to cook. No wonder so many bachelors end up talking into the clown's head for suppers...and lunches and breakfasts too!

I say if my Hubby wants to cook, c'mon in! I've got other things I'd like to be doing, and if he's willing to cook while I'm doing them, I'm all for it. That said, he can't cook to save his soul-his Momma was a "guys not allowed" kinda woman, but didn't do much in the way of cooking herself-but he tries. The more he tries, the better he gets at it...he's learning there's no real magic to it, and a lot of the really tasty stuff can be really easy to do.

Matt said...

Started cooking when I was 6 and nobody would get up early sat morn and cook bacon for me. Burned bacon is still bacon.

DonkeyBuster said...

Chocolate chip cookies are what finally convinced me to think outside the box (macncheese, frozen). I'm a woman who grew up not knowing how to cook because I couldn't stand being in the kitchen w/my mom, w/whom no one could get anything right. Ever. I'm sure to this day she's bitching about her funeral.

But I got to longing for CCC & never looked back. =0)