Thursday, August 30, 2007

21 Days and Cooking

My mom was not a big cook. I think she probably could cook ok, but it was never anything she really seemed to enjoy doing and she worked a lot – so a home cooked meal in our house most often consisted of things like:
• Macaroni & Cheese (Kraft from a box of course) with hotdogs
• Tacos – I actually remember that she usually only used a half packet of seasoning mix because otherwise it was too spicy – and the toppings consisted of cheese, lettuce and tomatoes – no salsa or hot sauce or sour cream or guacamole
• Basic meat and potatoes: pan fried pork chops and boiled potatoes, pot roast and potatoes, etc.
• Hot dish – tuna and noodles and a can of creamed soup, ground beef and noodles and a can of tomato sauce (we actually called that spaghetti)

They were all fine meals – and I do actually like most of them – but there was little variety, very few spices, nothing remotely ethnic and nothing very unique.
• I honestly didn’t know until I was about 17 that you could make a piecrust.
• My dad doesn’t like many vegetables so my mom never made them – so we never had them – so I just decided without ever trying most of them that they were gross. I was in my 20s and had a roommate that cooked before I started to eat them and decided that most were pretty good.
• My dad also doesn’t like Chinese food, so maybe we got it from him – but my brothers and I used to refer to any dish we didn’t thin looked good as ‘Chinese food’ it was synonymous for ‘bad.’ When I was a senior in high school my friend made me go to a Chinese restaurant…..OMG it was so good!

So because of this upbringing – I never really learned how to cook. When I went to college – I fended for myself. I could do the very basics – mac & cheese, sandwiches, frozen dinners, but I even remember calling my mom once asking how to bake a potato, because I’d had it in the oven for almost an hour and it wasn’t done and I thought maybe I was doing it wrong. I lived by myself or with a roommate often on opposing schedules – so it was almost always cooking for one – not worth learning to cook. I joked about it and I didn’t care. If I wanted something more exotic – that’s what restaurants are for!

Well that was 10-15 years ago. I have since learned to cook – and I think I’m pretty good at it. I’m always nervous it’s going to be rotten, but most of the time my stuff turns out pretty good. Usually because Noland is there and he is an awesome cook! One of my former co-workers (who is a fabulous cook) and I used to sit in our cubes and share recipes and discuss ‘foodie’ things through our shared window all day long. She would tell me things like she loved getting my recipes because they are always so good. And when we throw a party or bring something to a friend’s party – we usually cook up something pretty fantastic. The last 4 or 5 years I’ve even been reading cooking magazines and having all kinds of fun learning how to do some cool stuff.

So this brings me all to the current thought that keeps running through my brain. It seems that every time I’ve talked to my mother on the phone recently it’s been near dinnertime and I’ve mentioned something about that. This past week we’d been out all weekend, didn’t have much to work with at home, so Sunday evening I was making some basic mac and cheese. Some rotelli, 2 kinds of cheese, milk, a dab of sour cream, and some red pepper flakes for kick – toss it all in a dish and bake. Simple – but nice. My mother’s comment “ew – the icky kind – Kraft is the only good kind you know.” Her other comment “aren’t you done yet, aren’t you cooking it on high, aren’t you the girl who says that everything should be cooked on high?”

Sure – when I was 18 and you yelled at me for boiling noodles on too high a temp.

Nearly every time I’ve told her about a dinner we’ve made, or a party we’ve had or gone to – she tells me that what I’ve just described sounds “icky” or asks me who made it for me. They are coming to visit in a few weeks and I said that I was going to cook for them every meal and they’d see that I am a good cook…and she told me that she’d bring a bag of her own food and hide it in the closet.

So thanks mom. Way to make me feel like I’m 16 again. Way to make me excited about the visit.

So I’m warning the rest of you now.
I may be a bitch for the next 3 weeks.
And then I may need a lot of drinks.

Either that or I’m going to get my parents to eat Thai food.


The Hamzinger said...

I'm glad at least I got some warning ;-)

You're a great cook, honey - just one more thing you've become *despite* your Mom's influence. See?

Anonymous said...

Don't get to worked up about our visit. We'll try MOST anything you cook, (as long as no veggies) ha. I do remember having veggies at home and you weren't very excited about trying them, maybe?? because I don't care for a lot of them, who knows. I fix a lot of the meals now and they are just as bland as I use the Weber grill a lot, chops, burgers, pork loin, brats, fish, I might even throw on a baked patatoe or two.. I can even fix a boxed dinner. We're looking forward to our visit. See you in a couple weeks. I even visit your blog site, after I just got through golfing.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I remember you could make a hard boiled egg and peanut butter and jelly back in the day! Don't sell yourself short....ohh, and you put salt in a baggie and clipped the corner so you could salt the egg. If that wasn't culinary genius, what was!