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Issue 1358 November 6, 2011
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Empty Fridge = Full Heart...Right?

Thinking Out Loud Again Chronicles

Cooking Is An Art and I'm No Artist

November 6, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Diane Szczepanski

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"There is a peculiar burning odor in the room, like explosives. The kitchen fills with smoke and the hot, sweet, ashy smell of scorched cookies. The war has begun". ~ Alison Lurie

My kitchen chair gets equal time being used as a step stool to reach the smoke alarm in a frantic attempt to rip out its battery and silence its screaming, as it does sitting and eating a home cooked meal out of it.

The ear-piercing beeps have produced my own Pavlovian response to grab a kitchen chair, should that response ever come in handy and it also serves as a signal to me that my dinner is done.

Oh well. Everyone uses their smoke alarm as a kitchen timer.

Don't they??

Truth be told. I HATE cooking.

I have a definite aversion regarding all things such as crock pots or colanders, or anything containing the words "poaching" or "braising". It's anxiety-inducing and there's enough other things I can worry about.

Why stress myself with repeated attempts to prepare an edible and delicious 'hollandaise sauce' when I could spend that time worrying about global warming, the state of the housing market and why my washer is making that funny "tink-tink" noise?

I also derive absolutely ZERO amount of pleasure spending time in the kitchen amongst fancy pots or shiny new pans. I don't care about the newest gadgets promising to make grating cheese or coring apples, a near euphoric experience.

Old family recipes don't bring back any fond childhood memories of homemade Mac and Cheese days of yore.

A new recipe does not challenge me. A Rubix cube does.

Doing the laundry is a bigger enticement than what possibilities a full spice rack and a good cut of sirloin could offer and I'm not that crazy about doing the laundry .

Intricate recipes are an afternoon of fun to some. A means to show off their skills, chef-like talents and lengths they'll go to, ensuring their family is well fed. To me, complicated recipes are just... complicated.

My heart skips a few beats and I start to hyperventilate at the thought of all the ingredients that would need to come together in perfect measured harmony to concoct a delectable pate en croute.

Frankly, just thinking about it is bringing on a headache and my fight or flight response is kicking into full gear.

MY style of cooking involves light soy milk, a cereal bowl, a cereal spoon and unsurprisingly...cereal.

It's tasty. It's quick. It's economical.

If I stay away from those varieties containing words such as sugar, frosted, marshmallow or with the warning: "DIABETICS STEP AWAY FROM THE BOX", it's a relatively healthy bowl of food that I sit down to eat.

More importantly, there is no thought process to pouring cereal, followed by milk, into bowl. It's stress free, as far as any culinary technique is involved and its nearest rival is instant oatmeal.

That is, if having to heat water weren't an additional time consuming step required to make a decent bowl of instant oatmeal.

Which is not to say I CAN'T cook. I just don't LIKE to.

I've sent more than one friend home with an old butter bowl lovingly filled with a hearty, delicious soup I made with my own hands, in my own kitchen.

From scratch.

Prepared in moments when I thought I'd give it the ole "one for the Gipper" attempt at cooking.

Fortunately, these episodes don't last long and my lucidity and contempt for being in the kitchen returns rather quickly and my dishwasher is filled with dirty cereal bowls once more.

Suffice to say, the capability to whip up tantalizing dishes to please the palate, is there. The motivation and desire to do so, is not.

A good meal in my "I hate the kitchen" and "I'm not even that fond of the dining room" attitude, is one that is prepared by someone else.

My family and friends have been aware of this about me for years and have relegated me to "Chips and Dip" for every gathering requiring a dish to pass.

It's OK. They love me anyway.

At least that's what they say as they reach for the painstakingly prepared deviled eggs and homemade chocolate mousse made by my other over-achieving family members, while they try to keep their sleeve out of the store bought dip that I brought.

That's not to say I don't enjoy a well-prepared meal. I do.

Cheerios and milk does get old after a while and someone else cooking for me is pure heaven. It's a treat beyond words to sit down at a table to a meal prepared by the hands of another.

I'm not lazy either.

I'll wash pans, clean up counters, do dishes and package leftovers. Just don't make me stand in front of a cupboard and assume the paralyzing "What do I make for dinner?" stance. It's sure to induce a panic attack.

You would a real pal to ask me out to a restaurant. Or you could just invite me over and you can throw a plate of homemade spaghetti in front of me. I'd be a happy girl with that. Add a tossed salad and I'll be your friend for life.

It's probably become pretty evident by now that I won't be hosting any dinner parties any time soon. If I do, there will be a clearly marked caterer's truck parked unashamedly in my driveway.

However, you ARE always welcome to come visit. I'll have cold beer and chips and dip.

As luck would have it, I'm done writing this just in time. I think I heard the toaster pop and that means it's time to butter my dinner.

Bon Appetit...

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Diane Szczepanski

Business-woman by day, confessed boot addict by night and 'wanna-be' writer, music lover and proud Mom of an awesome guitar playing, teen son.

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