Sunday, January 6, 2013

Betty Freaking Crocker

So if you had asked me 10 years ago what I thought my future hobbies might be, I never would have told you cooking.  I'm the girl who spent most of her life as the pickiest eater on the planet.  If it wasn't chicken fingers or french fries, chances are I wasn't going to touch it.  I've never been a foodie, or someone willing to try new things, and when I moved out of my parents house I knew how to make grilled cheese, boil pasta, and I could make waffles.  That was about it.  I'm not sure when I started being interested in learning to cook, but somewhere along the line I found myself with odd hours of free time when there was nothing on television worth watching and suddenly I was watching hours and hours of Food Network.  Sure, i wouldn't heat about 90% of what they were making on most of those shows, but everything seemed so easy, and when the episode was over, the food looked good.  Almost good enough for me to consider wanting to taste it.  At some point, I decided that I probably could make more than grilled cheese, and when Jason was complaining about being bored with our usual dinner choices, I decided I was going to take a chance and try something totally different.  Since that ended up a success I just kept trying more and more new things.  I decided that if I wasn't afraid of doing it, then the worst that could happen is that I'd waste a bit of flour and move on.

Now, at this point, as much as I might find the act of figuring out what to make for dinner annoying, and as much as I hate having to come home and immediately start dinner, there is something strangely therapeutic about the act of putting together a grouping of simple items and making something that people enjoy.  Chopping vegetables, or boiling pasta, or grilling chicken is mindless.  Simple.  Follow the right steps, you get the right outcome.  I like the predictability of it.  Plus, when not burdened with the task of figuring out meals, I still find myself drawn to the kitchen to bake something.  I like the way dough feels when it's being kneaded.  I like the smell  of it as I shape it out.  I like that my house smells like baking bread.  I like producing cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bread loaves, homemade icing, and having it turn into something that makes people happy, or makes people smile when they come home and find treats.

I never expected that this is what I would turn to as a hobby, or something I do when I want to relax and not think about much.  When life is complicated, cooking doesn't have to be.  You mix the right ingredients, and you get the right outcome.  You can always adjust to make it just right.  There's comfort in the predictability.  There's comfort in knowing that a little more flour will fix a sticky situation, and if you make a mistake, it's not so hard to start over again.  I like that in as little as 30 minutes, I can make someone's day better just by feeding them.  Sure, I still don't eat beef, or tomatoes, or a ton of other things, but what I do eat I can cook pretty darn well, and there's comfort in that.

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