When I was growing up, my mother did all the cooking, but she did it alone. She never had us girls hang out with her, or try to impart any of her knowledge or skill of cooking unless we specifically asked. I don’t think she did it on purpose, I think perhaps she felt if we were interested we would seek her out. Also, if we didn’t like particular foods (like vegetables) she would find ways to hide them rather than to fight with us. Like blending bell peppers and onions into the spaghetti sauce.
Till I was in my late 20’s I was not used to eating chunks of vegetables. I would ask restaurants to leave out things like onions or tomato chunks, in fact just about anything chunky I wanted nothing to do with. It made it difficult to eat out, and I imagine I appeared very “high maintenance” to an outsider.
Approaching my late 20’s I decided that had to stop. I was trying to be more healthy, and I was just tired of having to have everything made “special”. My mother was living with me at the time and still doing most of our cooking again, so I began training myself to eat more foods. Shortly after that, I met Michael. When he and I started dating I still knew almost nothing about cooking, and didn’t bake more than a cake from a box or a batch of cookies.
One day, early in our relationship, he suggested I make biscuits. I’m pretty sure the incredulous look on my face would have been priceless. I distinctly remember, when we started dating, telling him that I DON’T cook. In fact I am pretty sure my exact words were,
“If it doesn’t come out of a box or a can, I’m not making it.”
When I mentioned Bisquick, that’s when HE gave ME an incredulous look. This man I had linked myself too was used to a mother who cooked just about everything from scratch. She baked biscuits and cakes and cookies, canned, and had many other skills that I did not possess and wasn’t sure that I wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, I was not opposed to the idea entirely, and I am not a feminist that believes all “women’s work” should be avoided lest the chains be re-locked forever.
In fact I found it somewhat intriguing to see if I could manage it, but I had no idea where to begin , and I didn’t have all the tools necessary. I also had this tiny bit of fear; of failure, of burning things, of being embarrassed by overcooked or tasteless or just plain disgusting food. I was 32 years old and had lived most of my life this way. I just recently began incorporating eating whole pieces of vegetables in my food, wasn’t that enough?
So I picked up the phone and called his mother to get a recipe. Flour, oil, salt, milk, baking powder… not hard right? Drop by large spoonfuls; because I didn’t have a cutter or rolling-pin, we had drop biscuits, which apparently is a thing. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or so and voila-Biscuits!!
And they were eatable!
And people liked them!
Slowly I branched out to different types of foods, making different kinds of bread, and even pies. I continue to expand my cooking repertoire.
It is important to remember life is ever evolving. My focus has changed over time. It is a far cry from what I thought I would be doing or what I thought I would want when I was young. I have grown, my perspective has expanded, and what I thought would make me happy has changed.
You may think you can’t, or maybe don’t want to. Maybe there are nagging fears… of failure, of embarrassment, but we push past those things. It helps to have a supportive and encouraging person by your side to give you a nudge every now and again, too.
So here I am, 10 years later, and I cook many meals from scratch. I have made friends with my crock pot, I have a baby sourdough in my fridge, and canning is a lovely hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I still like a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese once in a while. It’s what I grew up on and is a comfort food, but I like trying new things. Specially with breads.