Posted by: stillironic | February 3, 2010

Cooking, But Not by Choice

I have to make dinner tonight. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes me feel sleepy. It would be so nice to crawl into bed, instead, and read or take a nap. Except I’m no longer sleep deprived, so I don’t need to nap anymore.

I basically stopped cooking once I moved to Baltimore. My husband loves to cook almost no matter what, and he does it freestyle and with artistry. At the end of the day, he has to be beyond exhausted or too sick to stand up to turn his back on making dinner. So for 20 years I hardly ever cooked a meal—except for making salads, but that’s not really cooking, technically.

There was the oh so occasional spanakopita, butternut squash soup, and apple pie (all pretty scrumptious, I have to say; and I made the crust from scratch), but otherwise there was no cooking. Microwaving only when forced by circumstances. And very little heating (not even for tea ‘cuz we have instant hot water, or did till it broke, dammit).

Being at odds with our oven was also a factor. The oven was and still is an adversary. It’s a big six-burner restaurant stove that takes at least a day and a half to preheat. And once it’s reached a high temperature, it refuses to cool down if the recipe calls for it. You have to open the GD oven door to reduce the temperature and keep checking the thermometer we have sitting on the oven rack. That’s because the big old mule of an oven can’t regulate its temperature on its own.

Now I have more free time than my darling husband and I’ve been called to duty as a cook. In other words, I’ve been drafted—as in the Army not the NFL. I sure as hell wouldn’t have signed up on my own. So after 20 years sans cooking, I’ve found that cooking isn’t like riding a bike. It doesn’t all come back. I’ve had to relearn some basic concepts like preparation can take hours, boiling water for pasta can seem to take hours, and substituting skim milk and low fat mozzarella and ricotta cheese for the whole milk versions does not a delicious manicotti make.

It takes me forever to prepare a meal—days sometimes, which can coincide nicely with the oven’s preheating timetable. But this in no way means that the oven and I are now simpatico. We’ve simply negotiated a truce. I don’t call it names or swear at it and it will improve its preheating skills. Which it seems to be doing. When I baked muffins the other day preheating only took a mere 30 minutes.

© 2010 by Virginia Gerhart

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