cooking, schmooking

why it’s time for me to stop being a fast food girl

Depressing, really.

I am not a great cook. I have a few recipes that I do well, and all of those come from my mother. You want meat loaf, chicken wings, pork chops or… okay, I guess that’s about it for what I cook, but if you’re in the mood for one of those things, I’m your gal. Kitchens intimidate me. I’m always impressed by those people who can cook a bunch of stuff and it all comes out on time and they don’t get all covered in food and curse and drop things and stuff. They just cook some food and serve it, and I’m like the tribesman in The Gods Must Be Crazy, thinking that they just performed a mini miracle in my kitchen.

But every once in a while I start thinking, “Hey, I could cook other things! I just need to try it out and then I’ll know I can do it! I should cook other things and then I won’t eat out any more. I don’t want to be a fast food girl anymore. Fast food always leaves me unsatisfied.”

So I go to the store and buy groceries for the week, swearing that this week I will not buy any fast food. I will make my food every day. I will make myself dinner, lunch, and the occasional breakfast. I will not be a slave to Subway. I will not go to the vending machine. I will save money by cooking my own meals.

Also I’ve noticed that whenever I cook something, I eat less because I’m not so hungry by the time the food is on the plate.

I attempted to do the bean recipe from yummy la malinchista’s site yesterday. That was my one goal of the day… well, two… I had to pay rent. So I spend the morning working on my page and reading a bit, and then I go out to the store and buy the things needed. I get the garlic, the beans, etc. I get home and realize that it is now 5:00, and it is time to start cooking, or they will never be done at a proper hour. Eric leaves for rehearsal and I promise him that when he gets home the “little lady” will have “taken care of his dinner.” Feeling very 1950’s I start chopping away in the kitchen. I clean the beans just as directed, and throw everything into the pot to start cooking. Okay, I figure it’s about 5:30 now, by 8:30, we should eat.

Then I go over the recipe again (because I’m sort of obsessive like that…) and I read that I was probably supposed to soak those beans overnight if I wanted them done so quickly. Okay, so maybe it’ll be another hour or so before they’ll be done. So they boiled, and I put them on a simmer.

Then about an hour goes by and I start thinking: “What exactly is a simmer, anyway?” I go peek into the pot, and the beans are sort of just sitting in the water. I have the temperature just above warm kinda in the low range. Hmm… it’s been an hour and a half and it doesn’t look any different, and I don’t notice this really great smell she was talking about, so I’ll turn it up a bit.

Then I go check a little while later and I find that the water is boiling again. So I turn it down. Then I read the recipe again, because I have to in order to feel like I’m doing something, and I notice a reference to the onions. ONION? Shit.

So I chop up an onion and throw it in there… I mince an onion… then I read the recipe and it says to cut an onion in quarters and throw it in. Four pieces…. three hundred pieces.. what’s the difference, really?

So now two hours have gone by and I’m worried that the onion won’t be cooking with the rest of the food right, so I turn the temperature up again. This is when I notice that the water has gone down slightly, so I put it under the sink and fill it up with more water. Better make sure that water is as hot as the other water, so I boil the water again and then put it back down to a simmer… this time I make the simmer a slight boil, as I’m now convinced that I haven’t been cooking anything for the past two hours.

Now stuff starts cooking, and it’s almost time for Eric to be home… I don’t want him to see that I’ve been cooking all day and the beans look anything but like what their supposed to… so he walks in and I cheerfully announce that everything will be ready in twenty minutes. I throw the bread in the oven to warm up, and I start maniacally mushing the beans around in the pot so they start to look like the beans he’s expecting. They taste okay, but don’t look right… makes no difference at this point. I throw in a bit of cheese, and serve everything up.

The bread is cold and needs to go back into the oven, as the butter that I put on it hasn’t even started to melt. I take this opportunity to throw the beans back into the pot for a few seconds… that’s when I notice that Eric has turned the burner off. Shit. How long have they been sitting there with no heat? Damn.

Reheat everything and serve.

I’m sure it didn’t taste like it was supposed to. You know that expression, “A watched pot never boils?” Try “A nervous pamie never makes beans.” So now I have a ton of beans in my fridge. I fried some up this morning with some eggs like la malinchista suggested… good. But I think I scared Eric off with the whole thing, because he asked his to be beanless this morning. I think he realizes that the amount of beans in the house right now warrants some serious bean leftovers for the next week.

So, that was my one goal of yesterday, which I only partially completed. The other goal? Well, I got to the office and they were closed. They close earlier on a Saturday… even when it’s the day rent is due. Fascists! So now I’m going to have a couple days of late fees because I have to get a money order to pay the rent and it’s a big pain in my ass.

So, yesterday was sort of a bust, goal wise. But I got to see The English Patient, which I had never seen… and I got to tape The Shining, which was on late last night. We nearly peed our pants last night, because we were watching the monologue where the old caretaker is telling Jack Nicholson how to “correct” his wife and child and we’re all quiet and watching the screen, and someone knocked on the door very ominously and I yelped and Eric jumped into my arms and yelled, which caused me to scream and jump again. I opened the door and my friend (who we were expecting… that’s the bitch of it) was standing there in hysterics.

I get very nervous watching The Shining.

Plus that kitchen that Wendy has to cook in… look at the size of that thing! Talk about intimidation! I’d never do anything right in there. I could screw up hundreds of different dishes night after night after night! And worse off, I’d get lost and no one would come looking for me because I was no help in there anyway.

I hate the kitchen. Right now mine is covered in bean juice and egg shells. I guess I should try and straighten up, before my cats learn that they don’t want to eat everything in there. They eat first and ask questions later. “Ihh… I don’t think I like Play-doh. Why didn’t someone tell me before I ate the whole jar?” You have to be quick around here.

And you have to read directions nine times to make sure you got them right.


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