If you wish you could experience that same transformation, read on. Maybe I can help. Or at least give you hope.
Growing up, both my parents worked. I'm told my mother went through a gourmet cooking phase before I was born. I never saw it. Or tasted it. And since my mom died early, I never learned it either. Mom's dinners usually consisted of supermarket fried chicken, or maybe Stouffeurs' lasagna and salad.
I married young, and went straight to grad school where I had classes many nights until 10 PM. Dinner usually consisted of jars of Ragu or Old El Paso dinner kits. Cooking seemed like a chore - a chore often solved by restaurant dining - and honestly, I wasn't all that good at it.
The cooking, I mean, not the dining. I've always excelled at dining.
I had very little cooking knowledge or intuition. My knife skills were dismal (still not great). And I burned myself multiple times a month. I couldn't figure out how people thought this was fun. I assumed I just didn't have the domestic cooking gene.
Then I met a couple friends who checked cookbooks out from the library and read them for fun like novels. Whaatt?? They planned days in advance what they'd make for dinner. I reluctantly gave it thought each day around 5:00 PM.
One night I spent the night with my girlfriend Christy - author Charles Martin's wife and a great cook - while our husbands were out of town together. The next morning she wanted to watch Martha Stewart's show. Martha was cooking with cranberries. I'd never seen a whole episode before, or a whole cranberry.
I decided there MUST be something to this cooking thing that I'm missing. And then I started reading in Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes talks a lot about food and drink and pleasure. It warns us not to base our life on such things, but it also advises us to learn to enjoy them in light of God who grants enjoyment.
So I made that my goal for a year.
I read about the Slow Food Movement. And that year I chose the word SLOW as my one word.
Here's what I did that year:
- I watched the Food Network, often.
- I started looking at cooking books, though I still don't enjoy them as much as novels.
- I went to cooking demonstrations at Williams & Sonoma.
- I found that a few cooking classes can make a big difference.
- I read foodie novels and foodie memoirs such as A Homemade Life.
- I began following the local foodie scene in Wilmington.
- I gave myself permission to try and fail, and try again.
- I remodeled my kitchen a little bit.
- I bought a good sharp knife, and a new cutting board.
- I starting playing music when I cook. Sometimes in the room, sometimes on my iPod.
- I stopped at Farmers' Markets and roadside fruit stands.
- I chose to be adventurous in tasting new things.
- I decided that my goal was no longer to get meals made as quickly and efficiently as possible, but to enjoy the process of making them.
And somewhere in that year cooking became a form of relaxation, creativity and pleasure at the end of my day. I first realized this shift had happened while watching the employee at Williams & Sonoma demonstrate a new chopper/dicer gadget. I turned to the stranger standing beside me and said, "I think I'd rather just chop my own vegetables by hand." She nodded. We bonded over the fact that, for us, chopping is a zen-like experience we don't wish to forfeit.
When I chose SLOW as my one word, I labeled it as the thing I most wanted God to do in me that year. And He did it.
Now by late afternoon I am jonsing to get into the kitchen and start on dinner. To create it, smell it, taste it. And it tastes good, thanks to me and fresh ingredients rather than some large food company. There is something really satisfying about that.
So I'm living proof that a woman who didn't like to cook, didn't want to cook and wasn't good at it, can change.
How about you ... do you like to cook? Could you learn to?