Mom’s Cooking! Call the Fire Department!

I have a confession to make. I am a lousy cook. Well, this isn’t a secret to my children and spouse. They’re pretty much aware of this fact. Actually, they live with this reality on a daily basis. It’s a confession to the rest of the world who may imagine that I’ve got it together. My house is clean and neat, my kids are (generally) presentable and I hardly ever venture out of the house without my hair and make-up done. But I have a deep dark secret. I. Really. Can’t. Cook.
When I say I can’t cook, I mean it on every level imaginable. I have the uncanny ability to either ruin the simplest meal by making it taste like regurgitated cardboard or light it on fire. Gourmet to me is anything I have prepared without injury and the children have eaten without gagging or projectile vomiting. Anything other than frozen food, that is. Apparently, I make a mean Digiorno pizza. And Kraft Mac and Cheese (only Spongebob shapes, however). But that is the extent to my culinary prowess.
My children groan audibly on the days my husband works and we are out of frozen pizzas and boxes of Mac and Cheese. They beg and plead, “can we please go out to dinner?”. And they don’t care where because anything is better than my cooking, according to them.
Is it hurtful that they would rather be stung by a sting ray than eat something I prepare? Yeah, it is. I die a little inside every time they say, “Mommy cooked this? No!!! I’m too young to die!” But I can hardly blame them. It IS horrible.
It’s not for lack of trying. I have spent hours pouring over cookbooks, watching Rachael Ray and pining recipes on Pinterest. I’ve found the easiest idiot proof meals out there. Yet somehow, those “easy five step” recipes only have two steps in my kitchen. Step #1, start. Step #2, destroy. I’m really not exaggerating. When I “cook” (if one could even call it cooking), I have the fire extinguisher on the kitchen counter and the kids on high alert for knife injuries. One time, I actually made a decent meal only to discover I left the pot holder on the electric burner and melted it to the stove. The kids were too traumatized to eat it.
I blame my mother. My mother was one of those June Cleaver types who always had a homemade meal on the table. My great grandmother, too. In fact, Nana seemed to exist only in the kitchen. There were permanent indentions from her sturdy shoes both in front of the stove and the sink and scuff marks where she shuffled between them. Neither of them ever showed me how to actually cook, so I assumed cooking was some innate talent inside me that I could use whenever I needed to. I grew up with the impression that when I was married and had kids, I would simply whip up delicious homemade meals for them without batting an eyelash.
Yeah, it seems that gene has completely skipped me. In fact, I think it ran screaming from the room. Now that I think about it, it is quite possible that it was a gene that skipped a generation. My grandmother was a horrible chef also. At least I think she was. I don’t recall her “cooking” me anything more complicated than a bowl of cereal. When I slept over her house, we ate out a lot. Hmmm…there’s a pattern here.
We eat out a lot. More than the average family. Like five times a week sometimes. My husband is gone 24 hours, at least twice a week, leaving me completely on my own to feed the kids. We order Chinese a lot. We have cans of soup when I’m too lazy to go get the Chinese food. Sometimes, I declare it frozen waffle and ice cream night. Other nights, I tell them they are going on a scavenger hunt for their meal and the first one who discovers where the leftovers are hidden wins. What? You never went to bed without dinner as a kid?
On the days hubby is home, he does cook most of the time, but for some reason, he can’t get over the fact that the woman he married actually burnt a baked potato in the microwave and actually expects me to do some of the cooking. Those are the other nights we end up eating out. He takes classes and begged me to go with him. I went once and fell asleep as soon as they started talking about measuring things. so hubby takes the classes without me and then tries to bestow his knowledge upon me. I politely bob my head up and down but I soak in none of this knowledge. He has his little spice cabinet and tries to point the differences out to me but I’m pretty sure I’ll never need to know more than the salt and pepper.
Listen, the cooking ship has sailed for me. Cooking is like learning a foreign language; best done when you’re young. In fact, listening to him prattle on about braising and making a rue is exactly like a foreign language to me. One I am pretty sure I am allergic to. I broke out into hives once when he had to run to work unexpectedly and asked me to grill the salmon he had taken out for dinner. (We had Burger King that night)
When we were first married, we were so poor we could never go out to eat. I was afraid my new husband would learn my deep dark secret and he would leave me for a woman who served French cuisine with wine every night. After a few months of boiled pasta and sandwiches, my husband did get suspicious. I tried to fake it…I put takeout on plates and served it. stupid me forgot he does the checkbook and I gave him the receipt. Needless to say, he was on to my secret. He told me to “figure it out and just cook something” Fifteen years later, I’m still trying to figure it out.
In my defense, there ARE a few meals that I can make. Stew, chicken parm and, um…that’s it. For some reason, I’ve been able to master throwing the ingredients for stew in the crock pot and breading and baking chicken smothered in cheese. But that’s it. That’s my entire bag of tricks. Oh, and my kids hate chicken parm and my husband hates stew so what’s a girl to do? Make reservations!

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