Sunday, September 13, 2009

There is hope for me yet!

I have been cooking lately. Yes, going beyond salads and the microwave!

I have been partly inspired by a biography of Julia Child...mind you, I have made it clear that I will never make dishes with 1) that much butter, 2) more than 20 ingredients, or 3) that take hours and hours to make.

See, I never learned to cook because I always equated it with being Donna Reed, not feminist, etc. Which I realized a few years ago, was asinine.

Also, as you have probably figured out from reading this blog, I usually do not attempt things I cannot do really, really well, or preferably better than anyone else. I'm very competitive with myself. This is why, in the past, I have not attempted to cook, learn graphic design, or become a handwriting instructor.

In the past, I have had an angel food cake explode in my oven - and subsequently catch on fire; I have ruined alfredo sauce thinking I could make a low-fat version with half-and-half (actually making a watery version); I've baked brownies that stuck together so badly my coworkers asked if I had made a science experiment.

I still don't see the point of cooking for one. However, when I met Mr. RK, we both realized we needed to learn how to cook, and pronto. So far, this has meant fixing a limited number of dishes, but recently I have extended myself to things that take more than half an hour to prepare.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be (nor do I want to be) a gourmet chef. I will be happy with being a reasonably good cook, and not poisoning anyone.

Stupidly, my whole life, I have thought that cooking was an inborn talent; if you're a good cook, I reasoned, everything comes out right the first time. I had no idea that it took - even required - trial and error, that not everything would come out right the first time. Pheromone Girl, who is quite an accomplished cook, said, essentially, "But of course!"

I did not know, until I read the biography, that at first, Julia Child was a terrible cook. Chicken fat on the wallpaper, raw meat because it wasn't cooked properly, entire dishes in the garbage.

However, her husband, Paul, was encouraging, telling her that, "I'm sure you will become a wonderful cook, because you are so interested in food."

I am not terribly interested in food, but I am always interested in a challenge, and that is how I am treating this. It's an adventure, and sometimes a successful one; in the past week, I have come up with good recipes for broccoli cheese soup and pollo asado with mojo criollo sauce - and that was tricky, because I'm a vegetarian. But I was thrilled when Mr. RK, who has offered to be my culinary guinea pig, said my first-time pollo asado was better than the kind he orders at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.

Sometimes the result (see above picture) is even pretty.

Next is Thai peanut sauce. The first recipe tasted like a vinegary, soy saucy, nasty concoction (and I followed the recipe), so next I'm trying something with coconut milk and ground red pepper.

Wish me luck.


Darth Weasel said...

That is awesome. I remember when I started trying to cook and how frustrating it was and how hard it was to try new things because I was afraid I would fail at making them.

Glad you got past it, go cruch them!

Granny Annie said...

God bless Mr. RK. You go girl!

pheromone girl said...

Oh, the stories I could tell about my misses. But the things I do well are the BEST things and you'll find yourself in the same boat.

Once you discover what kind of cooking you enjoy the most (for me, it's creating things from scratch to try to match or exceed something I've had before) you'll feel FABULOUS!!

I love it that Mr RK loved your pollo... yay!

Fireblossom said...

I cook for one all the time, and I love it, although it is making me fat.

LL Cool Joe said...

I know nothing about cooking or food. I don't quite understand why someone would want to spend hours cooking a meal, only for it to be eaten in 30 minutes, or less.

But good for you mate!! I admire anyone who can cook any sort of meal, even an exploding Angel food cake!

Pouty Lips said...

I am jealous. I basically burn everything and then gob it with butter.

themom said...

When I left home at the age of 18 - I didn't know how to cook. As a matter of survival, I learned the basics. I am so not a gourmet cook, but I can present a pretty fantastic and tasty meal. Congrats on your progress. Looks scrumptious.

G said...

While growing up, I was one of the few guys who actually enjoyed cooking.

I'm probably also one of the few guys who could survive on his own without a microwave.

Good luck in doing the cooking thing. It'll be just another facet in the person known as Riot Kitty.

Lynn said...

Good for you for cooking! I would like to share the recipe for this Moroccan Chickpea soup with you:

It makes your house smell SO good. And it is delicious and easy. One of vegan friends makes this as is and adds cooked chicken to her boyfriend's bowl.

Sidhe said...

All of a sudden, I am very hungry.

Shionge said...

Great that Mr. RK is giving you the encouragement and hey practise makes perfect and I can't wait for the day you invite me over for dinner ya.

I can go vegetarian with you too :) Go cook up a storm RK :)

Riot Kitty said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!

B said...

In the states it was a different story, but since being in Denmark together, A & I have had to start cooking together - and now we love it! We don't have a microwave here (no one really does), so we started making big batches of stews and soups that last for several meals and do well reheated on the stovetop. When we moved away, our vegan couple friends gave us How It All Vegan!, which is pretty much the best cookbook for someone who doesn't know how to cook (and neither of us ever really wanted to learn alone either). It does take some time to chop up all the ingredients, but it is SO worth it. Big pot of bean and veggie chili on the stove as I type this! Yay partnered veg cooking!!

Scarlet said...

You and I are on the same wavelength. I don't have ANY vegetarian dishes to share with you, but while reading Julie & Julia what I really wanted to make was that potato and leek soup. It has like three ingredients but it's THE WAY you do it that makes it TO DIE FOR.

PS - I think I'm going to dare myself to make something from MtAoFc...just for the hell of it. Why not?

Riot Kitty said...

B, I *wish* Mr RK was a vegetarian, but he never asks me to cook meat. I have an awesome vegan chili recipe that we both love.

S, Strangely enough, potato leek soup is on my list of things I want to make. Yum yum!

Aliceson said...

Yum! That pasta looks great but I don't see any fresh basil on it. What happened to your herb garden?

I cook partly because I like to but mostly because my family requires it.

You should check out the Everyday Food (a PBS tv show and monthly magazine by Martha Stewart) website. It's full of great recipes that are healthy and quick but not healthy in a diet-y way.

Riot Kitty said...

Hey Aliceson, thanks for the suggestion. I also do still (for now, knock on wood) have a basil plant, I just only like it with certain dishes.

Anonymous said...

I learned how to cook by watching. I have a ton of cookbooks, but I don't even use them. Instead, I deconstruct what's in a dish that I like and then I try making it myself. Kind of handy. However, I've normally ended up in relationships with women who couldn't cook. Sometimes it's good to get a break and let the other person in the kitchen! Glad to see you're giving it a go.