Every so often, Sally sends me a picture of a recent dish she has made, like huevos rancheros dressed up, plated on bright flowered dishes or her crepes with chicken, covered with a white sauce and roasted peaches. Never mind her desserts. Then, there’s her husband, a connoisseur of grilling. Visiting my sisters recently, I ate a filet grilled just right by my brother-in-law to a perfect medium. It tasted as rich as a large serving of butter melting on corn on the cob. Even better.
I too, cook and consistently make our meals for my husband and I. On a restricted diet, I really don’t have a choice. Have you ever tried to find a recipe that eliminates onion and garlic? Luckily, desserts don’t require it. However, I do have a sophisticated technique for snapping fresh green beans while watching the news, pulling frozen hamburger from the freezer to thaw so my husband can brown it for spaghetti, quickly beating eggs for a nice, quick evening breakfast, or buying 85% chocolate bars for dessert. In reality, I’m a little more creative than that and don’t mind cooking. It’s just I don’t spend enough time perusing cookbooks or fine-tuning that special recipe that makes taste buds laugh gleefully, begging for more.
I also didn’t take the time to cook with my children, unlike my son-in-law. He is the main meal-maker in the household and allows our grandchildren to work in flour until the kitchen is white as a ski slope. He helps his son and daughter with recipes and techniques. Our granddaughter began experimenting as young as age ten, discovering she loved baking. Now age fourteen, she has fine-tuned a vanilla frosting, pleased that my husband asks her to make it so he can eat it straight out of the bowl, unconcerned it’s for her cake. I haven’t been foolish enough to ask how high his cholesterol is.
Once, while our kids were in high school, I decided it was time I had help in the kitchen. I came up with the senseless idea they would be responsible for planning the evening meal, preparing it with no help from me. No suggestions, no giving them a cookbook, no recipe from my recipe box. These lack of instructions from a teacher, no less.
That evening, the girls began their new adventure as chefs. Arriving home from school, I was anxious to see what they’d prepared. I quickly changed clothes and joined the family for our evening meal. Two bowls sat in the center of the table, one filled with barely warm, lumpy mashed potatoes. The other bowl held thick, undiluted tomato soup to serve as gravy. Of course, it stayed untouched as I quickly figured out something to serve as a meal. Frustrated, and yes, a little angry, I stared at the blobs of tomato soup and pieces of potatoes covering the kitchen counter, nixing the idea of turning our children into chefs. It never crossed my mind they needed guidance, which meant allowing some messes in the kitchen as they learned.
Luckily, our children eventually learned to cook and years later, looking back, the girls and I laugh about that meal they concocted while I search our pantry, trying to figure out the evening meal.