I’ve always known that I’m not the best cook but I haven’t had many complaints over the years. I think my biggest problem is my limited menu. Mom was/is the same way. The few times she strayed from her menu it turned out horrible. She tried to make fried rice once and it turned into a glob of not-so-white rice shaped particles melded together in the bottom of the pan. It was gross. She tried to use bean sprouts to “add texture” and made it worse.
When I was about 17/18, mom was adamant I learned how to cook. One night a week I had to make dinner for everyone. I didn’t need much instruction, I knew how to cook by this point but she said potatoes cooked in bacon grease, stuffing Tyson nuggets into a tortilla, and pasta with only butter were not enough of a menu; whatever, right? I seriously had no plans of marriage or kids, I could totally live off these things, for life. It wasn’t long after that, that I moved out. One of my first mornings out, I went through a box of pancake mix because I could not figure out how the fuck you make pancakes. It was one of the few things I knew how to make! No matter what I did, the pan would not get hot enough. It would look like the pancake was cooking but each time I touched a spatula to it the raw mix would dribble over it. How does one mess up pancakes so badly? It turned out the pan was rebellious. I would make many, many similar mistakes over the years.
I was 24 when I had Skas. I knew basics by then. I could fry some things, make meatloaf and bake chicken. I kind of knew how to make spaghetti sauce but I just recently found out I was using the wrong canned sauce (which means my mom uses the wrong sauce– maybe she’s not as good a cook as I thought?). Anyway, use crushed tomatoes. I didn’t have to change much of the recipe I built out of what my mom taught me so I was happy with that discovery even though I felt stupid. I made dinner at my house for my entire family once: Fried chicken tenders with mashed potatoes and corn. I burned the outer layer of chicken just enough to ruin the entire meal. But then I made meatloaf once at Stilla’s even though she hates meatloaf. She had two plates but I have to admit, I make a pretty mean meatloaf (I don’t use sauce, ew).
At 27 I had a stroke and lost my left body. I sat and walked Kasper through cooking until I could withstand standing the time it takes to cook a meal. I had to learn how to cook with one hand; I also had to learn how be mindful of my left body which I can’t feel, see or move. Then, I had to learn to cook to suit my diet because after a stroke, no matter the cause, you want to cut your risk of another. And that was how I learned that I use way too many boxed and frozen foods. I’m not an anti-GMO person or anything but I would like less chemicals and preservatives, etc, in my food. So I had to learn how to cook with real food. To sum it up: My menu has grown.
Despite the fact my menu has improved it is still limited. I make the same things repeatedly. One of the things I make twice a month is baked chicken breast. It’s so routine it’s flavorless even though I use veggies, marinades, and herbs . I decided to dress it up differently last night. I make my own breading for pork chops:
I mix panko and fried onion in a storage bag and roll over it with a rolling-pin. Then I put a slice of wheat bread in a blender-thingie with some spices (paprika, garlic salt, italian seasoning, you get the idea) and turn that into bread crumbs that I mix with the panko and fried onion and omg the pork chop comes out so juicy and delicious!
So I did this with my [skinless] chicken breasts, except, I rolled each breast in a mixture of olive oil and diced garlic before covering with the breading. Then I baked it the way I would without the breading. My hopes were high for this one. I don’t usually come up with recipes on my own. I may have come up with my own breading and bread crumbs but it was out of necessity, not creativity. This was out of bored taste buds.
So the chicken comes out and it smells absolutely amazing. There’s a sizzle in the baking dish because of the juice and the garlic aroma is out of this world! I take out the first breast to cut for JJ and my mouth is watering, my heart is pounding. I can’t wait to steal a bite! Juice exploded out of this thing! And I see pink along the top of the chicken and I’m freaking out! I start cussing and going on about how the chicken is raw, “look at that pink line!” and I’m mad because it’s already later than I wanted it to be and now the chicken is undercooked. I put it back in the oven another 10 minutes and it hasn’t changed at all and that’s when Kasper decides to tell me
Babe, this is what juicy chicken looks like.
My chicken is so dry I didn’t even know what juicy chicken looks like…until last night