Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dangerous Behavior (The Joy of Cooking)

Every once in a while I turn over a new cookbook and proclaim that I, queen of cold cuts and frozen entrees, am going to cook more. I aspire to be healthy you see. Much like I aspire to be clean and aspire to be organized. Most of the time I miss all three marks by a wide margin.

On most days, my organizational system is a series of piles in my office. I know generally where things are by the location of the pile. Something urgent will be located in a pile on my desk, less urgent things are piled on the floor but within reach of my chair. If the pile is anywhere else it's something I probably don't need anyway.

On most days you'll find tufts of cat hair on the carpet, dishes piled in the sink (even though we have a dishwasher), an almost empty cupboard and a trashcan stuffed with Styrofoam take out boxes.

But on a select few days you will find everything in the house neatly in its place, the fridge stocked with vegetables and a dustless cookbook on the kitchen counter.

My cooking aspirations occur the least of the three areas since I have no natural talent for cooking and most often will be cooking for my self since Danny's diet is limited to things that did not grow in the ground (sort of the opposite of a vegetarian). My cooking endeavor never lasts very long nor does it usually go incredibly well. If it does go well, I come out the other end with a new recipe I like and only minor injuries or burns.

The only exception is last Christmas's baking frenzy which I actually enjoyed and miraculously escaped unscathed. Well, almost. I did put a spoonful of boiling sugar in my mouth and once or twice grabbed a cookie sheet out of the oven with my bare hands. But the experience worked out better than my usual foray into domesticity.

But baking is not nearly so frustrating to me as cooking. For one, it's way more difficult to mess up baking. If you mess up, the worst that happens is it tastes like burnt sugar and if you don't get a cookie it's not the end of the world (unless you're Danny).

But if you spend a lot of time on dinner and it doesn't come out right you have to start all over with something or just go hungry. This time I didn't mess up the cooking too badly, but I'm pretty sure the act of cooking itself made me sick. I think I'm allergic to cooking.

Sunday, I decided to try a recipe that required a tad more prep time and called for something I'd never even seen before, a rutabega. I had to ask two shoppers, a publix employee and a produce manager before I found someone who even knew what a rutabega looked like.

The rutabega turned out to be quite good actually. Like a potato but sweeter. I overcooked the zuchinni meatloaf (even though it was in for shorter time than called for). My oven, which was brand new when I was 9 years old (you do the math) smokes in protest at any temperature over 325 and has stove top burners that only randomly work (we have to jiggle them first).

So the smoke from the oven, the toxic chopped onion that made my eyes water so much I couldn't see through the tears, the heat and posture of chopping, dicing and standing over the sautéing rutabega for twice the length of time it should have taken, all combined to equal the massive mega headache I woke up with Monday morning.

Worse than any hangover I have ever had in my life, combined, the headache was so bad I thought I would throw up if I opened my eyes. The muscles in my neck and shoulders were stiff from looking down at the cutting board and the sauté pan.

I managed to recover after two Excedrine migraine tablets, an ice pack and a morning nap with Kiddo (we watched Beethoven). But the mental trauma of preparing food on my stone age stove has left it's mark forever. From now on I'll only be buying pre-chopped vegetables and am officially in the market for new appliances (or healthier take out).

1 comment:

John said...

Love your blog, Stephanie. Keep it up. With cooking and dogs you can never go wrong. If you haven't been following my move down under you've got a year's worth of reading to catch up on-- jhalbrook.wordpress.com