I am comfortable in the kitchen: slow, messy, limited, simplistic, but comfortable. I don’t cook a lot. It is a family tradition for me to make pancakes on Saturday mornings. When the girls were young, eggs were erroneously labeled a major contributor to high cholesterol and clogged arteries. I decided to experiment with oatmeal as a substitute for eggs in my pancake recipe. I have settled on a fifty/fifty ratio of self rising flour to quick oatmeal (one cup each), add a quarter teaspoon of salt and a heaping teaspoon of baking powder. I add a couple of other special ingredients, two heaping tablespoons of sugar and two heaping tablespoons of vanilla yogurt. If I have it, I use a cup of buttermilk and add enough milk to create the right consistency.
I am known for my cobblers. I’ll share the recipe later. I also like making chili and soups. I use to bake a lot of breads, but that was thirty pounds ago. There are a few other dishes that I enjoy making, but not often. Cheryl is more the cook in our household, but that has been an acquired talent.
On our first weekend in our first apartment, two weeks into our marriage, Cheryl announced she wanted to fix me Sunday dinner, fried chicken. I offered to help but she wanted to prepare it for me, things were looking up in this marriage thing. She disappeared behind the plastic accordion kitchen door and I a grabbed a book; we didn’t own a TV. A good fifteen minutes later, the door slowly opened and she asked in a gentle voice, “Jackie, do you know how to cut up a chicken.”
I laughed, went into the kitchen where the bird lay on a cutting board with the knife resting beside it. Having grown up helping my mother and grandmother butcher chickens was coming in handy and this time we didn’t have to ring its neck, scald, pluck the feathers, and singe the pin hairs off. The task accomplished, I offered again to help but she ushered me out of the room; she wanted to do it herself.
The door expanded, closed behind me and I returned to my book. Fifteen minutes later the door opened again and Cheryl appeared with another question. “Honey, do you know how to fry chicken?”
I laughed too loud, entered the kitchen, and showed Cheryl how to batter and fry chicken. She ushered me out again and thirty minutes later she opened the door and started bringing out a lovely and tasty Sunday dinner. It really was good. The point is that Cheryl has forced herself to become a great cook because she sees cooking as an act of love. She doesn’t especially enjoy cooking; she likes having cooked.
As long as the girls were home, we had our evening meals together. Cheryl cooked most of them. Now that we have an empty nest we have shifted to lunch being the main meal and the highlight of my days. We eat at home as much as possible, but schedules require us to eat out at least a couple of days each week. In the evenings Cheryl snacks (healthy) and I fix myself something simple: egg and rice, fried egg sandwich, omelet, oven fried steak, leftovers, etc.
In sum, I am thankful Cheryl loves me enough to be a wonderful cook. I am thankful I am a decent cook who can feed myself if need be and show off every now and then.
November 20, 2010