Friday, December 9, 2011

Good Cook, Bad Cook

I am a pretty decent cook. Not a fancy cook, and not a very adventurous cook. Which is good, because the people I'm feeding (including myself) are not fancy or very adventurous eaters. But I can certainly toss together a tasty meal for my family, and there are a few recipes I absolutely knock out of the park.

Gordon Ramsay probably wouldn't think so.
But then, he's a giant dick.
 I make great marinara sauce. Why anyone would buy spaghetti sauce in a jar when it's the cheapest and easiest thing in the world to do well from scratch, I do not understand. I'm not even freaking Italian, except by marriage, and I could do it even when I was single. If a Polish chick like me can make good marinara, anyone can.

Hint: It shouldn't be orange.
 I also make awesome from-scratch waffles. Apparently. Personally, I can take or leave waffles. If I were stranded on a desert island and the only food source available was a waffle tree, I wouldn't starve, is what I'm saying. But I do not hold the bumpy bastards in as high regard as Beloved Spouse does. To hear him tell it, the whole marriage thing was touch and go until I started making him my waffles, at which point he became my willing slave. He loves them. Of course, I'm the one who has to make the waffles, so at least one of us is unclear on the concept of slavery.

Sticking together is what good waffles do.
 I also make a killer turkey meatloaf, a sweet-potato casserole to die for, and gravy that's like butter (because it's got butter in it, duh). All good plain middle-class fare, but I pride myself on being able to put food on the table that doesn't always come out of a box or a can. And I do it all without using onions.

Because onions are freaking evil and I hate them, that's why.
 On the other hand, I don't make everything well. Some dishes I make merely OK. And others are absolutely beyond me. It's taken me years to come to terms with my inability to prepare certain foods in an edible version. All right, I haven't really come to terms with anything. It pisses me off. I grew up watching my mom and my grandmother make just about everything well. I'm a smart, capable, modern woman. Why can't I make a decent pie crust? Why why why why why why?

I know exactly how this feels.
Yeah, I can't make pie crust from scratch. It's not horrible, mind you. But it's not very damn good. And for the amount of effort that goes into making pie crust, to have it be not very damn good is just unacceptable, especially if the filling is yummy (oh yeah, my pie fillings are super-yummy). After many failed attempts, I gave up and now I buy the damn refrigerated pie crust, or make graham-cracker crusts, which are almost impossible to screw up.

Also in the crust family, I can't make pizza dough. My mom used to make her own pizza dough, and it always turned out great. Mine is tough and stiff and flavored with frustration and failure. Screw it - there are at least three local places that sell amazing New York-style pizza. If I don't feel like going out, there's always Di Giorno. I wave the white flag of surrender with pleasure.

It's actually a grease-soaked napkin of surrender. Mmmmmmmm.
 As I said, I make amazing waffles. But I can't make an edible batch of pancakes to save my life. My little family will was eloquent on this topic. They think my pancakes suck rocks. And they're right.

Tastier than my pancakes, actually.
 What's that? No, you do not use the same batter to make pancakes as you do for waffles! Get the hell out of here. They're different foods. You probably pour ketchup on your spaghetti, don't you? Heathen.

In theory, pancakes are among the simplest of things to make, even from scratch. Flour, milk, egg, mix it up, pour it on the griddle, voila. Except I can't do it. Seriously. I have made some of the most horrendous-tasting pancakes ever to plague a breakfast plate. I don't know what it is. Somewhere between the bowl and the griddle they became infused with the most malevolent impulses of my soul.

They're evil, is what they are.
The thing about pancakes is, I can't make them at all. Even when I buy prepared batter that tastes good, I manage to screw up the cooking process. They're soggy, or chewy, or heavy, or just plain nasty. There's not enough syrup in Vermont to cover up the deficiencies in pancakes made by my hand. I've given up.

Finally, we come to mashed potatoes. When I was a kid, I helped make mashed potatoes all the time. I peeled the spuds, cut them up, boiled them, mixed in the milk and the seasonings, and they were fine. Then I grew up and got engaged and set up housekeeping with my future Beloved Spouse, and one night I decided to make mashed potatoes for my sweetheart.

It was a disaster.
They were the worst damn mashed potatoes in the history of spuds. And I lost it. Here I was, trying to impress my betrothed with a home-cooked meal, and I chose something safe that I knew I could make well because I had been doing it half my life...and they were awful. Mealy and lumpy and icky and just about everything that can be bad about mashed potatoes. A quite ugly scene followed, and it is to the everlasting credit of BelSpouse that he married my sorry potato-ruining ass anyway.

It was so bad that I have never been able to make mashed potatoes again. True story.

Post-Traumatic Fucked-Up Potato Syndrome.
I make instant mashed potatoes these days, which chaps my ass, because WHO CAN'T MAKE MASHED POTATOES? I can't, that's who.

Deep breaths.

Live with your limitations.

Um...I'm really hungry. I think I'll make order a pizza.

1 comment:

You're thinking it, you may as well type it. The only comments you'll regret are the ones you don't leave. Also, replies to threads make puppies grow big and strong.