A friend recently told me if any cooking endeavor involved more than three minutes and a microwave, it was too much trouble. Fortunately, her husband is an enthusiastic and good cook, so my friend isn’t condemned to a life of Hot Pockets and Ramen noodles.
I cook primarily because I like to eat. Good food is one part of my larger enjoyment of life’s sensory pleasures. A great meal has something in common with a stunning vista, a beautiful piece of music and soft kisses from someone you love.
My own culinary journey began when I realized I couldn’t afford to eat out very often. However, even after I win the Powerball (I’m sure it’s inevitable), I’ll still cook. In fact, I’ll probably use my extra leisure time to tackle even more ambitious dishes.
Most nights I can be found banging around the kitchen with a glass of wine or beer nearby. Some nights it’s hard to find the energy after a long day at work, but once I get cooking—my day is soon forgotten.
Of course, sometimes I forget about my bad day because I’m so mad about whatever I’m trying to cook. My cooking technique involves a great deal of swearing.
The other night I was annoyed at myself for screwing up the timing of a meal…a very simple meal at that. I realized too late I should have plated up my salads before I put the (store-bought) gnocchi to boil. The gnocchi ended up over-cooked, of course.
As I stormed out of the kitchen, I glanced at the pile of dirty dishes I had created making tomato sauce, pre-packaged gnocchi and a salad. The kitchen looked like I had made a four-course meal for 10.
Why do I do this to myself? I thought.
This brings me to the other reason I cook—a sense of accomplishment. My day job mostly involves occupying a cubicle. When I leave at five o’clock, I can rarely see the fruits of my labor; when I can, it isn’t exactly inspiring.
Cooking is something I can do from start to finish in a manageable amount of time. If I screw up, it’s over relatively quickly. The meal is typically edible, and I can focus on what to do differently next time.
As my cooking skills have improved, the ratio of hits to misses has increased dramatically, along with a slight drop in profanity. There’s nothing like putting out a meal when I know I got everything just right.
I’m also lucky enough to have an appreciative audience for my cooking. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having E gush over something I’ve made. It makes me feel like I’m good at something. Even the over-cooked gnocchi was pretty good.
Here's a snapshot of one of my recent successes: a barbecue sauce-chicken-goat cheese pizza.
I didn't make the dough, but I did make my own barbecue sauce. At the rate I'm going, making my own dough may have to wait until I win the Powerball.
The sauce for this is actually a sweet-hot basting sauce, which is what most people think of as barbecue sauce. Stay tuned for my thoughts on making a basting sauce.