Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kitchen Klutz

Let's face the facts here: I don't belong in a kitchen unless I'm sitting on the counter eating fudge & drinking milk.

But, unfortunately I have a child now that requires food at a certain time, and sometimes I am the only person available to supply that hungry little mouth with food. In an effort not to feed her frozen or take-out pizza every night, I have recently spent more time in the kitchen than I'd prefer. It hasn't been so pretty either.

Before Charley, I could avoid the kitchen for months! John cooks and I am not a huge eater. If he had to work late pre-baby, I'd just eat later. (Some wife I am, huh? Husband has to work late and instead of feeding him when he finally got home, I'd just wait until he got home so he could then cook for both of us! The horror!) But, Charley gets hungry at 6:00, and lately John is just getting home around that time, which doesn't leave enough time to cook something before her dinner time. Which means, I've had to do it.

Before I get into all of the klutziness, let me also remind you of this little factoid about me: I am a meativore. I don't eat vegetables and rarely eat fruit. Meat and potatoes are where it's at. But I know that's not a well-balanced meal for my growing baby, so I do not intend on letting her follow in my picky footsteps.

Given those two things, cooking and even grocery shopping have been such a challenge for me. And I am constantly told that practice makes perfect, but we are not coming anywhere close to perfect in this house. In fact, let me draw you a diagram of how practicing is working out for me:


You see, in most situations, practicing leads closer to perfection. However, in my situation, practicing is leading somewhere, sure, but I'm still as far from perfect as I was when I started. And I'm not even looking to be perfect; I'm just looking to decrease the circumference of my practice circle! Is that too much to ask?

Let's start with the basics. Opening a can. I have no idea why in today's age where you can turn lights on and off with a clap of your hands that we are still using devices like this that were surely invented by cave men. I know there are electric openers and fancy non-sharp-edge ones, but we've been through a lot of them and nothing works as good as this kind. And when I say GOOD, I mean it takes me at least 10 tries to get the darn thing locked on to the lip of the can. John doesn't understand how I still CAN't (pun totally intended) do it, but he obviously doesn't understand my practice circle.


But it's worse than just that. Let's take produce shopping for example. Now, I don't eat the majority of the stuff in the produce department unless it's potatoes or corn, or occasionally apples, grapes or oranges. But, when I go to the grocery store I still have to buy for the normal people in my household. So I will walk up to the wall of fruit and start squeezing because that's what everyone else is doing. What am I squeezing for? No clue! I usually end up settling for the prettiest ones I can find that are squeezy but not too squeezy and throw them in a bag. Only to get lectured later at home in the art of choosing tomatoes/apples/avocados/grapes/etc. I try my best, and he tells me what to look for every time, but it just doesn't sink in and I make the same mistakes time and time again. See, more practice circling!

& then there's my inability to stray from a recipe. If a recipe calls for 2.5 tablespoons of oil and we only have 2 tablespoons left, forget it. Or if a recipe calls for xyz spice and we have xy spice but it's missing some z, then I cannot make that recipe until I find xyz spice exactly.  And don't get me started on searching for spices in the grocery store. I KNOW I've stood there for 10+ minutes before looking for a certain spice, only to give up, and come back later with John who found it in 45 seconds. It's just not possible. There must be a better way to organize those little jars on the shelf. Surely.

& do you want to know how many times I had to go back to the bag of frozen broccoli that I'd already thrown in the trash can to double check the preparation instructions tonight? FOUR times. Yes, four times of digging in the trash can to read these most difficult instructions just one more time:

Pour green beans in sauce pan and add 1/2 cup water for whole package. Bring water to full boil over HIGH heat; cover. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 8-9 minutes. Drain if necessary. Serve.
What exactly did I not get the first 3 times I read it? Not to mention I have actually prepared frozen vegetables a time or two before. Practice. Circling.

Other issues:
  • Using way too many dishes while cooking.
  • Undoubtedly slinging flour (or whatever powdered ingredient I may be using) out of the bowl while mixing.
  • Having a lifelong fear of squishy stuff in the kitchen sink's drain, and will use a knife to force it down the drain before I'd ever pick it up and toss it into the food disposal drain instead.
  • Always forgetting to turn the burner/grill down to medium after the food's heated up or boiled.
And the list goes on and on. I know when I lay down to go to sleep tonight I will come up with several more examples that I'll wish I had added to the list. Basically, anything that can be done wrong in a kitchen, I do. I'm really starting to think there's no helping me either.

So please. Help a girl (and her suffering family) out. Give me some no fail tips and tricks you use in the kitchen. You don't want me to stay at the same circumference forever, do you?


Robin said...

Lacey you are too funny!!! I am a pampered chef consultant I wanna send u an awesome can opener with no sharp edges on cans when u open cans! I have a ton of hints of kitchen stuff!! I'll send those too can u email me ur address? Robin major harvey

Diana said...

You have to experiment to learn, and maybe you can decrease the circumference of the circle of practice. :) With cooking, having all the critical ingredients with the exact amount isn't necessary. Hate onions, tomatoes, peppers? Exclude them. Don't like cayenne, fine, take the recipe's heat down a notch. It does help to try the recipe once by the exact list, and then experiment with what YOU like. Baking, on the other hand, usually requires preciseness, but you can still make it like the recipe says and then learn to tweak it to what fits your taste buds.
Kitchen gadgets aren't necessary, but they sure do make things easier. I would recommend a food scale. I use mine a lot because I don't always make a whole recipe, but I need to know how much broccoli I have so I can cut the other ingredients, make sense?
Start with some easy recipes and build your confidence. Charley and John will thank you. :)

CJ said...

OMG!!! You're too funny :) I so remember the MANY (I mean MANY) a nights at the cookie company that I would hear a scream coming from the back b/c you had found a bananna (or other fruit) laying in the drain of the sink. I had to come to your rescue, but hey...what are friends for?!
Get a crock pot, then you can throw all the indgredients in there at once (the AM or night before), turn it on when u leave in the AM and your food will be ready when you come home from work! There are lots of good crockpot recipes on PINTREST. Hope that helps :)

Jessica said...

Maybe...come up with things Charley can eat raw as a snack to tide her over? (like bananas, grapes, bread, pre-boiled hard boiled eggs, cheese)

Laura Diniwilk said...

When my life is less crazy, I will definitely send you some of my dinner hits. Right now I am throwing Gerber meals at the kids like gangbusters. Oops.