I have a confession to make. One that is shocking and true. I. Am. NOT. A. Domestic. Diva. I do not cook. I do not know how to cook. I do not enjoy cooking. I do not want to cook. (Those closest to me have shrugged by now and wondered why this is a labeled as a confession rather than a known truth.) The most stressful question I am asked by my family is "What's for dinner?" That question can turn an otherwise happy day into a panic-stricken gut-twisting "Oh Crap!" funk. And they ask it EVERY DAY. It's not enough that I figured out something to feed them yesterday. And the day before. They want to know again today what they are eating tonight. It's never ending. I hear legends and myths of women who whip up a meal on the fly from just what's in their pantry. I hear tales of mythical creatures who cook a week's worth of meals on the weekend so they have a dinner ready to go each weeknight. I have seen with my own eyes the incredibly organized meal plans and calendars of women far more domestic than I who plan out their grocery trips and have inter-connected menus that utilize each purchased item. I marvel at their skills. I am not these women. And I am from the South! We are supposed to be born cooking, canning, baking, and whipping up meals that could feed 20 people without batting an eyelash. I was probably talking and not paying attention the day they passed out the domestic genes so I was born without them. I once found a Rachael Ray meal plan that had a grocery list for one shopping trip and five weeknight meals from that list. And they were all easy meals and they were all delicious. And our entire family liked them all. I think we had that meal plan for about four weeks in a row I was so excited. I subscribed to her magazine to get more of this incredibleness. And although she offers great recipes in every issue, I have yet to find another plan that offered one shopping trip and five delicious easy meals. And the problem is not the recipes, folks. I have recipes coming out the Wazoo, an entire shelf of cookbooks, a subscription to Rachael Ray and an email inbox full of newsletters and suggestions. That ain't the problem. The problem is me. I do not like to cook. I do not want to cook. I do not want to find a recipe and go buy everything and come home and prepare it. But it's not just that I don't like to cook. The problem goes beyond that. I really don't even think about what's for dinner until they ask me. It really just does not even cross my mind that we will be needing dinner until they ask. My brain is just not wired that way. I don't know why. It just ain't. I have tried doing a meal plan. Picking out recipes and making a grocery list and getting all the items. I was told this would solve everything. It solved a teeny part of the problem. Now I have some idea of what to cook, but the rest of the process stresses me out like you wouldn't believe. And then to actually make the recipe! Oh Good Grief! I don't know who actually determines the estimated prep time on those recipes, but they definitely are not domestically challenged. I have yet to make a Rachael Ray 30-minute meal in less than an hour. And an hour is probably being generous on the low side. By the time I get everything out and figure out how to cut it or how to prep it or what the heck the recipe is asking me to do, I am already in a sweat and panicking. And there is no estimating or guesstimating on amounts. If it says an 1/8 teaspoon, then I will be getting out the 1/8 teaspoon and leveling it off the top before adding it. A pinch of something? How much is that???? And then if I miss a step or screw something up (which is unfortunately often) or if everything doesn't get done on time (how on earth do people get everything ready at the same time???), I feel not only stressed but incompetent. And I am an intelligent, competent woman. I am just not a cook. I have known women (family, friends, in-laws) who are amazing in the kitchen. What they are able to do and create and present blows me away. And as much as I look at them in awe, I also look at them with somewhat of a puzzlement or bewilderment. How do you do that? How do you stay calm? How do you plan all that out? How did you know how to do all that? I just do not have it. It's not in me. And they tend to look back at me with the same puzzlement and bewilderment. Like I am a freak of nature because I have no idea how to cut up a chicken or I can't taste a dish as it's cooking and figure out what the heck it needs. (HOW DO THEY DO THAT??) I love entertaining and having people over. And I can plan a themed party like nobody's business and have cool little finger foods and menu items that are clever and catchy and delish. I can bake cookies like nobody's business. And I have a few recipes for main dishes that I do really well (although I still have to follow the recipe step-by-step no matter how long I have been making the dish.) But ask me to plan out a meal every single day of the week and it's like a punishment. I told My Knight on our very first meal together that I don't cook and I don't do dishes. And of course he smiled jovially and said, "That's okay! I do both." And he does. A lot. But now that I am at home writing and he is out in the world
slaying dragons working, he somehow expects me to come up with what we are having for dinner EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. It is torture. You might as well ask me to solve scientific equations or come up with a way to solve world hunger.
Recently I got volunteered to help with providing a meal for 50 youth at our church. Talk about panicking!! My dear friend who was also volunteered (and happens to be one of those amazing women I spoke of above) was completely non-plussed. "I'll just make sloppy joes," she said. "You make potato salad."
"Okay," I replied. "Do you have a recipe I can use?"
"FOR POTATO SALAD????" she asked incredulously.
"I don't make potato salad," I replied.
"HOW CAN YOU NOT MAKE POTATO SALAD? YOUR SON LOVES POTATO SALAD."
"They make it at Publix," I replied.
"Okay, then," she says, still incredulously, "why don't you make macaroni salad?"
"Do you have a recipe?" I replied. I think she wanted to hang up on me.
A few weeks ago, My Knight and I spent the day with some of his friends from NY who were visiting the area. As their elderly mother and one of the wives whipped up yummy delights in the kitchen, the other wife and I locked eyes and shared a look of recognition and understanding. I had found one of my people. She was also not a domestic diva.
We poured out our souls to each other as we described common experiences of being the one standing amidst the chaos in the kitchen, wanting to help but having no clue what to do. We spoke of the lack of any natural instinct in the kitchen, and yet a desire to be a part of what is going on and to help out in some way.
We laughed about eating out often, and how much we hate the "what's for dinner" question. It was so awesome to find someone who didn't stare at me like I have four heads when I admit I don't cook and can't stand the kitchen. I felt I had met a kindred spirit. It made me wonder how many others there might be out there like me. And it led me to my confession here.
So write me. Comment here or on facebook. Let me know. Is there anyone out there who can't stand to cook? Whose hair stands up on the back of their neck at the mere thought of having to "wing it" and come up with a meal that's nutritious and delicious without a recipe? Speak up my sisters!
And now I have to go........and figure out what's for dinner.