I am a disaster in the kitchen. My dad passed all his chefly talents to my sister and brother, and gave none to me. For years I have managed, sticking mostly to simple meals and the occasional baked goods. However, it seems that ever since I lost a considerable portion of my vision, I have taken a turn for the worst. During that time of visual downturn in the fall of 2013, I was “checked out” for awhile, and it seems I haven’t fully checked back in. I lost a crucial brain cell or two.
For example, last weekend we were having friends over for dinner. I was excited to make one of our favorites, penne sausage marinara. I had the dish mostly prepared ahead of time, so I only had a few simple steps left. I assembled the dish for baking, put it into the oven, and set the timer for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes later the timer went off and to my dismay, the cheese on top had not yet melted. My intelligent friend thought to investigate by sticking her hand in the oven. It was cold. Seems when I had thought about preheating the oven, I had not followed through. The next time someone tells you “it’s the thought that counts”, I assure you it is untrue. Actions, my friends, actions are what count. Doing the thing you thought about doing, like actually turning on the f-ing oven, are what count.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “well, that’s not such a big deal. You didn’t mess it up, you just delayed it a bit.” Don’t worry, I have more.
So then there was the time I decided to try a new recipe for meatloaf (my son’s favorite). Word to the wise, always read a recipe in it’s entirety before you start. I was so gung-ho about trying this new recipe, I just started throwing everything in to mix with the ground beef. Yet as soon as I dropped the brown sugar and mustard in, I had a second thought. I checked the recipe (with my clean hand, the other covered in raw meat, eggs, and brown sugar) and discovered that what I had used as a meatloaf seasoning was actually meant to be the topping. That day I cried. I felt completely inept, that I couldn’t even prepare a simple, classic dish. But! Mike consoled me, told me it would be fine, and insisted I bake the loaf just as it was. And we did, and it was delicious. A little too moist, but still delicious.
Then there was the time I made what my sister and I like to call “Amazeballs Chicken.” It’s chicken breast stuffed with roasted red peppers, spinach, and goat cheese. It’s divine. The trick is to sear it in the pan then bake it, pan and all, in the oven. The problem with that is that my brain is used to holding pans while they are on the stove, which does not require an oven mitt. So when the chicken was done baking, I made the extremely painful mistake of trying to remove the pan from the oven, sans oven mitt. That was a painful mistake, one I had hoped never to repeat.
Sometimes hoping is not enough.
Just last week I had a friend over for lunch. I made a frittata, which is the easiest fancy sounding dish I know how to make. Of course, I make it because it’s delicious, not because I like fancy food. In order to make a frittata, you first do a lot of the cooking on the stovetop, but you leave the food in the pan and finish the cooking in the oven. (Do you see where I’m going with this?) Of course I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this time. This time I was sure to wear the oven mitt when I pulled the pan out of the oven. However, it seems I turned my brain off after I set the pan down. Not three seconds after I took off the oven mitt, I proceeded to move the pan inwards, away from the edge. With my bare hand. I cursed, multiple times. I ran to the freezer to cool it down as quickly as possible, but it was burned pretty good. I had to hold an ice pack on it well into the evening.
I didn’t make it to ASL class that night.
Have you had enough? I have one more. This just happened this week. We had some over-ripe bananas sitting on the counter, just begging to be baked into bread. So I started mixing the eggs and sugar and vanilla, and then had the genius idea to add cinnamon for an extra kick. So I grabbed the spice jar from the cupboard and started dumping it into the batter, while the batter was mixing (love my Kitchen-Aid). As I poured it into the batter, I realized that it felt much different than the consistency of cinnamon. It was not so much like a powder, but more like… crushed red pepper. Not the extra kick I was looking for! All that batter, down the drain. Thankfully, I had not yet added the bananas, and could try again another day.
So maybe I ought to just shake these off and call it bad luck, but it’s not that simple for me. I can’t work outside the home. My identity used to be wrapped up in my job and my education. In the fall of 2013, I lost all that, but was given something greater in return. I’m a homemaker now. I have a renewed focus and appreciation for my husband and my kids, and I strive to be the best at what I CAN do. Those nights I screw up making a meal, I start to feel like I can’t even do that, but then my husband comes and wraps his arms around me and tells me he’s proud of me, and appreciates all that I do.
It’s my family that keeps me going, and if it weren’t for them, there wouldn’t be a fresh loaf of banana bread (with cinnamon!) cooling on the stove as I type. I can’t wait to share it with them 🙂