Where's My Hassenpfeffer?

Back in the kitchennnnn...cookin' for ma famileeeee....! 
They seem to disappear....on Sundays....when I'm experimentin'.....

If you're a good cook, consider it a gift, a talent, a prize.

I commit attempted murder on perfectly fine food stuffs every year at this time with the war cry, "THIS IS THE YEAR I WILL FEED MY FAMILY!". Poor foodstuffs.

So far this year I've almost killed a perfectly decent roast beef, twice, every cruciferous vegetable known to man and my latest attempt on kale has lead to full desertion of my youngest child. I thought I KILLED IT! He thought I killllllled itttttt. 

I admit it. It's not my thing. I can bake. Not as well as my brother but I can turn out a pretty decent Christmas cookie. But that once a year baking binge under a cloud of angry smoke and determination baked into every bite probably doesn't represent the true love I should feel. The baking frenzy actually wasn't as bad this year. One afternoon, three generations in the world's tiniest kitchen (my mother's) decorating and taste-testing. It was actually delightful. But it was only once. Ever. 

Maybe buoyed by the success of Christmas baking I thought (foolishly) that cooking is also a sign of love and caring and even I should be able to do it. The husband can cook. He doesn't fret or look anxious or start planning all week for one meal to be served six days later. He strolls in at 5pm, day of, figures out what he 'feeeeels' like, then starts to assemble a perfectly turned out meal. With flavour.

The collation of ingredients for the shopping list starts on Monday for about ten dishes I think I have a chance at pulling off. So all the items are on a list, with no distinction between the actual dishes. I divide the list into grocery store rows so I don't have to retrace my steps back to find the damn mustard seeds when I'm already at the dairy case. 

Starting at the veggies there is usually one or two items I can't find so I defer it to the freezer section where I either forget or can't find what's missing from the list. This happens frequently enough in every section that when the cooking begins there can be up to three items missing from each recipe. 

It's never intentional but by Sunday I can almost make one dish following the exact recipe or go back and cherry pick at the grocery store AGAIN. Well that won't happen. 

After the first bite the Husband usually asks, "Did you follow the recipe?"

(Of course I did, how insulting, if you don't like it don't eat it!)

"Ish", I answer honestly.

He cannot fathom how I can improvise on something clearly written out instructions, reviewed by others, given multiple stars on a website and it doesn't even resemble food. It looks like grey road kill that steamed all day in a crock pot. 

"I had to make some substitutions", I offer.

"No kidding". 

The fridge overflows with these experimental left overs of attempted food murder. No one touches them again but I faithfully wrap and store the leavings because throwing foodstuffs out in the garbage is wasteful. By day four it's mercy killing. 

The crazy part is when I finally find that missing ingredient like curry leaves for that rice dish I love that Jamie Oliver makes, I buy a bushel. Then it sits in the fridge because its the ONLY ingredient I have now. 

Damn mustard seeds.

One day. As God is my witness. My family will not go hungry on the nights I try to cook... again.

Jan 21, 2014


I’m a work in progress — a wife and mom and a member of the TV industry.



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