When I married my wife Melissa, I completely accepted her lack of cooking skills.
When Trevor and I got married I was glad he accepted my lack of cooking skills. I was a pot scrubber/prep cook ONLY! No one at my parents house would dare to eat anything that I had cooked, and was scared that some type of fire might break out simply by me being in the kitchen.
Up until this point, I had basically been surviving on items from the Jack in the Box dollar menu, canned tuna and black olives, and the occasional night out to sushi. I suppose you could say it was a bit unbalanced, eating the cheapest foods possible most of the time, and the most expensive foods possible the rest of the time. Aside from eating sushi, which thankfully I was introduced to when I was 18 by a friend with “rich” parents, I treated food similar to sleeping – a necessary waste of time. It was an expensive annoyance, which if I could, I would have just skipped.
I had a pretty good idea what kind of diet he had before we actually did tie the knot. I was ok with eating it myself until I started working at a vitamin store and reading all the books they had in their lending library. I started to get scared as I realized what we were actually eating. As I started reading labels and looking up most of the terms on them I realized we were pickling ourselves and would soon start to look like Twinkies – you know amorphous blobs that are so well preserved they could survive a nuclear explosion.
Soon, Melissa was cooking meals that were basically the best home cooking I’d ever had. My passion for food really grew, and my standards for what I was willing to put in my body were improving as well. Things were great – but after we had a couple of kids, it became clear that Melissa needed some help in the kitchen – a place I still found quite foreign and mysterious. After a bit of helping out here-and-there, and a bit of Food Network television watching (we love you Alton!), I sort of caught the cooking bug.
When Trevor says his “passion for food really grew” what he really means is all of a sudden eating became enjoyable and not just a bodily function. We both started to love the Food Network and especially enjoyed watching Good Eats, mostly because Alton explained the chemistry behind the cooking. Being a computer programmer that is just how he thinks.
I started out with making foods I really love, like ice cream, gratin, beef, lamb, chicken, and duck – all with varied degrees of success, but nonetheless all satisfying experiences. As with any hobby/obsession of mine, I quickly began upgrading equipment. I had no idea how lousy the vast majority of the essential tools in our kitchen were, and how many were not even present. We seemed to have every cooking appliance known to man, but when it came to knives, pots, pans, baking sheets, etc. our drawers and cabinets looked more like a Good Will store than a proper kitchen.
That’s because most of our pots and pans are hand-me-downs dear. He didn’t realize how bad it was because I just made do with what we had and still managed to make his favorite foods. Also when he says he started to “upgrade the kitchen” he bought everything he could find that he thought we needed in under 2 weeks. Just kidding – but not really. He did some serious damage to the credit card, which is now sitting in the freezer cooling off because he darn near melted the poor thing. But who’s complaining I don’t have to pay it off (he he). Anyways during his adventures in kitchen land I have been tutoring him along the way and trying not to pull my hair out in frustration while watching him cook.
Indeed it takes a certain, and special, talent to embrace my enthusiasm while tempering my energy level – a talent Melissa thankfully has. I tend to cook a lot like those people on Iron Chef – only with much less impressive results. My tendency to pour ample, often excessive, amounts energy and improvisation into the things I do is my biggest challenge in the kitchen. My primary focus seems to be on taking things slowly, and sticking to the recipe. And in my own defense, I took careful inventory of the entire kitchen in a spreadsheet and performed hours of research before purchasing anything for the kitchen – and the credit card isn’t melting, it’s just a bit warm…
Ha! Warm… Anyways his Iron Chef approach is quite different from my approach which lately has become prep, walk away, prep some more, walk away again, and finally assemble and cook while children are distracted or sleeping.
Eh hem – I’m a big fan of “Mise en place“. I just tend to do it all sort of – quickly.
Uh huh – sure… We’re still working on that. He gets distracted pretty easily by cookies, bacon, chocolate, etc.
So anyways, we decided to blog about our adventures together in the kitchen – our successes and failures, as well as our recipe refinements and inventions.