Cooking is not one of my life skills

I believe the title of this blog says it all. I have never in my life claimed to be, aspired to be or imagined myself to be a cook. I have many fine skills, it’s just that cooking is not one of those. And I am really okay with that, but the rest of the world seems to think I should be in a fine state of panic about my inability with a saucepan.

Please! When I was but a child of 8, I managed to set the kitchen curtains of my parents’ home ablaze because I wanted to make myself some french fries. I started there and I have never looked back. In the kitchen, my primary skill is fire and most things I touch with it are not the better for the effort. If I were an elemental witch, I would be the witch of fire and earth because my food either tastes burnt or like dirt!

I believe if you check back somewhere in my distant past you will find that I told the sad tale of meeting my husband when he, as a professional fireman, showed up to quench the polish sausage I had planned for my supper. After that misadventure, we were brought together under less traumatic circumstances and discovered we had met before over a scorched pan and a sausage burnt beyond recognition.

I always tell this story and then I add: “And he married me anyway, knowing full well I couldn’t cook.” There is no argument to this and I assumed when we made the match that my lack of culinary arts skills was not a hindrance for him. However, after years of having to silently chew the burnt offerings or the underdone potatoes or the hard-as-rock cookies, he has been known to grumble from time to time. However, since my answer is inevitably an invitation for him to take over meal preparation, he always backs down because, you see, he is no more fond of the kitchen than I.

That brings us to the pan I have featured in the picture section of this article. That pan is a wonder. I boil stuff in it and fry stuff in it and I have been known to bake stuff in it. That’s why it came as such a shock to me when someone saw the pan and remarked, “Oh neat, a stove-top wok. Do you do a lot of stir fry?”

Stove-top wok. I had no idea. Keep in mind, my idea of stir fry is a bag of frozen vegetables with some left-over meat, soaked in a bottle of teriyaki sauce. I don’t need a special pan just to make that! As I was cutting the evening’s boiled potatoes in it tonight, I told it, “We don’t need fancy titles or elegant trimmings. We’re real, you and I and we’ll get along fine.”

Apparently, the stove-top wok didn’t like my little pep talk, because when I had cooked the potatoes and mashed them, they had the consistency of stringy cheese or wallpaper paste. Roy didn’t complain, though, he choose to look on the bright side.

“Are those potatoes okay?” I asked looking with concern at the swipe of potatoes hanging from his chin like a surrender flag.

“Oh, they are just fine,” he said, if somewhat grimly. “They are much better than last week’s, with the little chunks of underdone potato hidden throughout the dish.”

Way to look on the bright side I say, because my cooking doesn’t improve with compliments. Come to think of it, my cooking doesn’t get a lot of compliments, and there is good reason.

I troll through Facebook and I watch every single one of those cooking videos, and I laugh because there is no way it would come out that way for me! I have never yet tried one of their recipes, they look so good, I just don’t have the heart to show them how they could be ruined! Likewise with recipes in magazines. I tried one once for chicken-fried steak and my husband, after two bites, tossed the plate aside and swore he could taste cinnamon and sewing machine oil in the meat. I only spilled a little, he shouldn’t have been so picky!

It is my plan, as I head to retirement, to take on more complicated cooking tasks, because I’ll have time to really devote to it. The trouble will come, of course, when I discover you can’t read a book on the deck and stir the béarnaise sauce in your evening concoction at the same time. The béarnaise sauce is going to lose, I can tell you right now!

Well, I have now shared with you another chapter in the sad tale of Jackie’s cooking adventures. While I have no recipes to share at this time, I have thought of a fine logo for my efforts. I figure a cloud of black smoke billowing out of the stove while a firetruck clangs around the corner should just about do it!

In the meantime, come over anytime for a meal. My stove-top wok makes a heck of a good pancake…if you don’t mind well done!


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