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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Life Lessons: Kitchen Edition

I can’t cook. This was what I believed for nearly 34 years of my life. I would surely poison someone if I tried to put anything in the kitchen together and it was ingested.

When I was about 7 or 8, my best friend and I decided to make nachos. More specifically, we wanted nacho cheese sauce. We were at her house after school, unattended, and were hungry. Simple enough, right?


Apparently, you can’t just put cheese in a bowl and put it in the microwave. Because it stinks up the house and is hard to clean out of the bowl. I still remember that smell. It was winter in Nebraska, and we had to open all the windows in her house and spray air freshener all over the place. And it still stunk to hell and back.

But, as you know, I’ve been cooking lately. I figured with this move, that I needed to learn, or at least try. I’ve been pretty successful. So far, the only really bad thing I have made is Asparagus Soup. And I think that’s just because asparagus is better as a solid.

Yesterday, I tried out a scone recipe. I have heard over and over that scones are so hard to make. That this is probably something I should wait until later to try. But that just made me want to do it more. Besides, I like scones.

I couldn’t figure out what kind of scones to make. I like so many fruits, so many spices. I also hate clichés. I also know that I have not been cooking long enough to just know what goes with what just by intuition or experience.

I thought about apple. What goes with apple? Cinnamon. But that is too cliché. I consulted some friends, and decided on ginger. Yum…ginger. I then decided on pear ginger. But then I couldn’t make up my mind. Apple or pear? Pear or apple? I left it to the gods of the supermarket to give me my decision.

I went to the supermarket to get my supplies. I opted for whole wheat flour, a healthier option I was not aware of. I also decided to make some glaze from a recipe my grandma sent me to put on top of it.

Looking at them before they went in the oven, I was convinced I did something wrong. The scones at Starbucks are always so big and puffy. Mine were small and flat. I decided I must have done something wrong. So, maybe I can’t make soup or scones.

Fifteen minutes later, when the oven timer went off, I opened the oven door with some hesitation. To my surprise, they were big and puffy! They looked like scones! (except rectangles, not triangles)

I believe there are lessons here. First, and most obvious, like Doc Brown always says, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

But also, following directions and being patient yields results. I do not read user manuals. I do not look it up. I never have. I like to figure things out on my own. I barrel through life on my own accord.

When learning to cook, I do not have that luxury. I must think. I must follow the suggestions of those who have done it before me. I must read the user manual. I must look it up. For example, “zest” is an adjective to me. It is now both a verb and a noun. I had to ask.

The fruits of following directions and being patient are good. They are yummy. I mean, what could be better than eating your result!