For years I either had to prepare dinner for small children or just for myself. It required nothing harder than staring into the freezer then nuking something into edibility. For the kids it had to taste good and look fun. For me? Well, okay, my palate isn’t so finicky. Dinner had to simply be warm. (Preferably involving either bacon or chocolate.)
My life as a
chef cook person who serves food changed when I met Matthew.
Matthew used to be in the food biz. He’s been a cook in a variety of ethnic restaurants, cooked elaborate meals for me, taught me that a perfect dish is a balance of color, texture and tastes, and he appreciates the foods that he eats. He isn’t an eat-while-he-reads-the-paper kind of guy. When we’ve eaten out he’s been known to utter, “Oh this presentation SUCKS” or “this might taste all right, but it looks like roadkill.” He routinely says things like “taste how the lemon balances the taste of the fish” and “this ingredient is earthy, this is sweet and we need one more to balance it out.” ((0.o))
So, when we decided to become an us and make the big leap from sharing airspace to sharing counterspace the cooking became my deal. Me. Not because I had proven myself worthy. Not because I volunteered. Not even because I totally rock a chef’s hat (although I SO do). I am the main food preparer in our house because Matthew works twelve hour days. It didn’t really seem fair to expect him to make dinner for me after he worked so long and hard and I’d been home all day. (Damn.)
The kitchen became my domain by default. (A hollow victory.)
Since then I’ve paid attention to the Food Network, picked up a few things here and there and can now cook on the fly. (i.e. While watching tv, playing video games, feeding the baby, mopping the floor and waiting for my nails to dry.) Rachael Ray has her 30 minute meals, but she thinks I have unpronounceable cheeses and meats on hand and get so excited I drool when I see a baguette.
Daily I master a 30 minute (or less!) meal, but I am not Rachael Ray with her fancy ingredients. I am MacGyver. I do not serve *ahem* “Orecchiette with Pancetta and Peas”. I do not need wine, or have to visit three different supermarkets for a list of ingredients. I can make a dinner for four in fifteen minutes with a can of creamed corn, an olive and a toothpick.
Matthew’s praised my “Oh-Hell-It’s-Five-O’Clock-Defrost-Whatever-This-Meat-Is-In-Hot-Water-and-Put-Those-Beets-On-a-Medium-Heat” (serves two with enough for lunch tomorrow). He’s smiled after tasting my now famous “OMG-I-Can’t-Believe-This-Tastes-Like-Food Burgers” (made with a pound of…whatever… and stuffed with whatever “accessories” are in the fridge).
I am now a decent cook. I use real ingredients. I prefer fresh over canned or frozen (although I will use both) and I still don’t use recipes.
I have a chef’s knife, can of tomatoes and twelve grains of rice.