Tall Drink of Nerd: Bad Cook
a blogumn by Amy Robinson
I start thinking of dinner around 3 in the afternoon. Then I eat an apple and don’t think of it again until I get in the car for my drive home.
By 6, as the commute starts, I am so hungry I could eat my key chain. I put my earpiece into my ear, plug the other end into the phone and relay my hunger to my husband. Seen is at home, standing in front of an open fridge and listing out contents, usually starting with what we don’t have.
“We didn’t remember to thaw the ground turkey, but we have chicken breasts and red peppers. I can grill…?” He offers, my wonderful chef of a husband.
“OMG…that sounds divine” I moan, “I am so hungry, I could eat a skunks tail.”
“Gross.” he always knows the perfect response. “Just pick up some beer on your way home.”
That is how I contribute.
I am a mildly awful and tremendously lazy cook. It really is fortunate that he gets home before I do. I inherited the bad-cooking gene from my mother. Mom was a phenom at baking. Her pies and cookies and cinnamon buns and angel food cakes were heaven sent and disappeared quickly from the reunion buffet table. It’s a mystery how such a talented baker could be such a bad cook.
Once, while in the 3rd grade, after a friend had spent the night at my house, I found a note tucked into my coat pocket. “Your Mom’s cooking made me sick.” it read. The note was anonymous, but I didn’t need Nancy Drew to help me figure out who wrote the thing. That note of cruel, childish honesty bobs around in my memory to this day and swirls up whenever any of my own meal adventures go awry.
Most of Mom’s cooking problem stemmed from being too poor to afford much more than chicken legs, flour and powdered milk. But we did have a huge garden in the back yard, so I can’t let her off the hook too easily. Most of that garden abundance went into her annual fall canning marathon. She has an occasional home run like cabbage pockets: home-baked pockets of whole wheat bread wrapped around spicy ground beef and cabbage, or the overwhelmingly flavorful tomato, zucchini and onion stew.
But her savory triumphs happen once in a blue moon. When time for the monthly potluck at the church comes, we would often leave the event with an empty brownie pan and a full casserole dish of honey-sweetened ham balls.
In her footsteps, about once every two weeks, I make an attempt at dinner. Usually it’s edible, but every once in a while I’ll pull a “Mom” and marinate the chicken in red wine and we’ll have purple fowl with rice. More often than not, I eat Seen’s culinary masterpieces while cracking the cap off a cold brew.
It all evens out.
I do the dishes.