Sounds appealing, yes?
Really, it could have been worse. The salmon was a challenging dish for this novice, so I’m not entirely displeased with the results, and I learned that sesame oil has a fairly low smoke point. (Thanks to my super-chef husband, I also learned what a smoke point was.)
My pan was way too hot when I put the salmon in to cook, and the marinade and sesame oil combined with the surface-of-the-sun heat to form a crispy brown (eh…black) crust on the outside of the fish. This turned out to be my younger daughter’s favorite part of the meal, and she enjoyed collecting the blackened bits from everyone else’s plates. (“It’s like potato chips, but made of fish!”)
The potatoes turned out fine, if a little salty, and the broccoli was great. (Though my husband swooped in at the last minute and made that for me. No one does sesame broccoli like he does, and I was busy airing out the kitchen and silencing smoke detectors.) The kids loved the chocolate fondue for dessert, and even grabbed one of the neighborhood kids to come enjoy it with them. I’d love to claim the fondue victory, but really, what’s not to love about chocolate and fruit?
Reactions to the announcement that I am learning to cook have varied. To protect both my friends and my friendships, names have been withheld.
“Are you sure?”
“Aren’t you too old for stuff like this?” (This was my personal favorite.)
“You can totally do this. Let me know if the kids want to come hang out at my house.”
“Do you know what real cooking entails?”
“It’s the children who will suffer the most.” (This was my second favorite.)
“That is wonderful! This is the best time in your life to learn to cook, and what a great example you’re showing your kids!” (Ok, that was the Publix Aprons lady. I love her.)
“That is sweet, Mommy. I will help teach you.” (Again, risking the anonymity, I will tell you that this gem was not offered by the same daughter that recently asked me if I enjoyed being a senior citizen. I am 34 for those keeping track at home.)
Determined to get things off to a tasty start, I went to my friendly neighborhood Publix and visited their Aprons cooking demo booth. The kids sampled the herbed chicken and I tried a plate of salad with homemade citrus dressing. (I didn’t know people other than my friend D made their own dressings.) It was all delicious. Having brought my big purse, I briefly considered shoveling enough into it’s leak-resistant compartments to feed the family, but I quickly regained my enthusiasm and left the booth with a recipe for Asian Salmon. My daughters, only slightly concerned, trailed behind me.
Chocolate Strawberries and Bananas (Any meal that ends with chocolate fondue will be considered a success in the eyes of the kids, right?)
Perhaps revelation is too strong of a word. Maybe it was more of an epiphany. One friend suggested I was just bored and that this would pass when the weather warmed up. Regardless, here we are.
I am too old to not know how to cook.
Having been a parent for nearly a decade, and eating solid foods myself for the quarter century before that, my awkwardness in the kitchen surprises even me. (Though I’ve found that my friends and family are not surprised. For years, they have been kind enough to expect very little of me in terms of culinary skills and rave appropriately when I successfully make instant oatmeal.)
Today, my outlook on cooking changes. I will no longer fear the three working burners on my cooktop or check for microwave directions on a package before purchasing. I will no longer consider that offering Kix, Cheerios, or Chex is the same as giving my family “options” for dinner. (Though breakfast, and the occasional lunch, is still fair game. I’m not completely unrealistic here.) Today, I will prepare real food for my family. Today, I will cook!
Grandpa brought Catie this doll when she had a simple surgery the day before her first birthday. She couldn’t yet talk, but sometime in the next 4 years, she named her Floppy Sally and it stuck.
Floppy Sally is still her favorite doll, and what she always reaches for when she feels yucky – which is way too often these days. Thanks for holding down the fort, Floppy Sally. I gotta get some sleep.