When I was around the age of 10 or 11, maybe nine, and my mother began to let me actually play around with thing in the kitchen, I would make what I would call “concoctions.” Perhaps this was me introducing some form of my inner chef–in which I do not have.
You see, I always had it built up in my head whatever this “concoction” was, I would master it and everyone would love what I made. I was going to discover this amazing recipe with the very basic items kept in our cabinets and refrigerator.
Well the only thing I could actually make were actually boxed brownies. And that even took me awhile. Everything from my “concoctions” to macaroni and cheese was a debacle for me. (Well, then I discovered Velveeta’s Shells and Cheese, which was easy and still a favorite to this day.)
So here I am, over a decade later, as a 24-year-old girl. I have a few easy signature recipes under my belt however by all means can-not-cook. It bears repeating. I can’t cook.
Shells and Cheese, one of the few things I can make
For starters, it makes me nervous. I don’t know why, but juggling so many things at once in the sense of cooking, makes me panic. I keep it in, I’m not a debacle to everyone else. But if you try talking to me while cooking, whether it’s a question or just conversation, fair warning: I’m not listening. At all. When I cook, I devote all my energy to the task.
So you think at this point I would be fairly decent as I devote all my time and attention to the task.
If I have multiple things going something, at least one thing, gets abandoned. Usually when I’m cooking for my boyfriend, I leave my stuff on the back burner. Literally and figuratively speaking. Why? I’m okay if I mess up my own. There’s this double amount of pressure though if it’s for someone else.
This entire blog is brought up thanks to an attempt to cook healthy this weekend. I’ve dedicated the month of July to getting fit and after a week of a certain diet making feel like I wanted to get sick at the thought of food–Saturday night, around 7 p.m., I found three things I wanted to make.
This meant I had to A) Make a list. B) Figure out if my boyfriend wanted to go to the grocery. C) Get him up and going to the grocery. D) Shop. E) Cook.
The menu was going to be Curried Turkey Meatballs, Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Parmesan and Kale Chips. At this point, the last thing I had to eat were two turkey hot dogs around 1 p.m. in my panicked rush to get out the door to pick up a friend and head to a first birthday party of another friend’s son. (I maintained my self control at this party, only thing I ingested was a glass of caffeine free Diet Coke).
It’s pushing 8 p.m. and my boyfriend and I are well into our grocery store trip. At this point he’s helped me realize how late it was and I decided to nix the spaghetti squash. But I would pay $5 for allspice, whatever that is, and all other items for my turkey meatballs. At this point, I’m starving, and with a limited amount of menu items I can have, anything sounds good.
We get the items and leave–note I did at least pick up a spaghetti squash to experiment with. We’ll come back to that.
Curried Turkey Meatballs
Whenever it was we get home, he’s in a rush because he’s starving as well. It’s my responsibility to help him figure out the timing of his dinner, which he was grilling a burger and I was to make the dreaded boxed macaroni and cheese (couldn’t he have the same affection for Velveeta as I did? It would make my life so much easier). Follow this, I had my turkey recipe along with the kale chips.
I start whipping up the turkey meatballs, trying to read ahead on the recipe as I’m notorious for only reading them in the order they are which has screwed me. Mid-way, I throw together my kale chips. “Throw them on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, that’s a piece of cake,” I think to myself.
Kale chips in, back to turkey meatballs. At this point, he’s wondering if he needs to throw on his burger and when I need to start the boxed mac n’ cheese. “Uhh,” I say, portraying this image as though I’m not even paying attention. In this case, I am, I’m just thinking. I have no clue how long it’s going to take me with the turkey meatballs. Only thing I know for certain are those kale chips.
He starts the grill. I manage to get back and forth between these turkey meatballs and stirring the mac n’ cheese. Finally, the meatballs are going and things are looking good.
Two seconds later, I’m realizing the mac n’ cheese is done, so I strain it–crossing my fingers I didn’t accidentally overcook. I notoriously do that and I know he hates overcooked noodles. He doesn’t get mad about it, but no one likes overcooked noodles. They’re sticky and gross.
It’s taking my meatballs a little longer than expected, but I figure how to expedite the process. I even almost threw the end part of the recipe together correctly.
Beep beep beep. 15 minutes is done. I’m excited about these kale chips, I’ve heard so much about them and was quite excited. What was not exciting was the shriveled brown leaves I pulled out on my sheet pans.
Not my kale chips, but they turned out similar.
“…maybe they’re supposed to look this way,” I think to myself. I take a second, pop one in to try it. “Burnt. Definitely burnt.”
Somewhere in that burned kale chip was good flavor. I know what I did wrong here. I know not to leave kale chips unattended.
Back to meatballs, oh, and mac n’ cheese. I have done a half-ass job at this point on the macoroni. I have the milk and butter out, not realizing that one–my boyfriend came in and asked where they were, and two–was looking for them.
“The milk and butter is over here!” I say excitedly, as though I’ve done him a favor. “That’s what I just asked you…” he replied. He starts to mix it in the small sauce pan I had them going in. I know it’s too small, but I usually make it work. Instead it wasn’t so easy.
I wrap up my turkey meatballs, but this is approximately 10 minutes after his burger and mac n’ cheese are done. Had I not mentioned in this I was making bacon too, for his burger?
Here we are. It’s probably 10 p.m. I take a bite into my turkey meatballs that I had stressed and slaved over. They were alright. Nothing spectacular, just all right. I don’t think I’m a fan of all spice. I’m starving and realize I had a little bit left over from what I made the night before, my cauliflower bake. This, I can make.
The next day, about the same time as I got this “bright idea” to make a huge dinner, I decide I want to take a stab at spaghetti squash. To make that cooking story short, I picked a random recipe, went into it without a clue as to what I was looking for, scraped out what I thought were strands which turned out to mush. I made spaghetti mush last night. I threw in some marinara and garlic salt to see how the flavor would do. Had I not messed it up, I think I would like it. Had I not messed up the kale chips, I would have liked them. Had I not used allspice, I think I would have liked my turkey meatballs.
One day, I might be able to cook. There’s hope for me. I still have the spirit that I’m going to make something incredible. One day, I just might.