The Tales of a Virtuous Woman Wannabe (Part 2) To Cook or Not To Cook? That Is a Stupid Question
As a Virtuous Woman Wannabe (see part 1 of this series), it was obvious that, at some point, I would need to turn my domestic efforts to the art of cooking, to don an apron that declares, “Queen of the Kitchen”, raise my yet-to-be-used Paula Deen wire whisk to the sky and reign with culinary skill in the kingdom of my kitchen.
To date, that time has not come.
The problem with cooking is that no matter how much time and effort I put into making a meal for my family, the next day, they want me to do it again. It is like a scene from the movie, Groundhog Day.
Every morning, I awake to wonder what I will cook that night. I open the door of the refrigerator freezer and stand there in a stupor. I stare at the multitude of vacuum packed pouches and prepackaged boxes and frozen bags crammed into every crevice of the space and I moan, “We have nothing to eat.”
Then I begin asking myself the question that will clog up my thoughts for the rest of the day. “What are we gonna have for supper tonight?”
In the morning, I think maybe we could have leftovers from another meal. Then I remember that we have had leftovers for the last several nights. (My family gets a bit riotous if they aren’t served a new meal every four to five days. In those instances, I lock up the knives and forks, for the sake of my safety, and declare the table to be a spoons only dining zone.)
At noon, I check on my husband’s lunch plans. My hope is that he will get away from the stress of his job and meet a friend for pleasant conversation and a good meal . . . because considering her husband’s peace of mind is what a Virtuous Woman does. If he eats a big lunch, I will serve a small supper . . . because monitoring her husband’s calorie intake is what a Virtuous Woman does.
Hallelujah, if he eats out! We will have frozen pizza and carrot sticks for supper. If he comes home for a sandwich at lunch, I keep working on supper plans and tell him I am glad he chose to eat lunch with me . . . because, sometimes, little, white lying to her husband is what a Virtuous Woman does.
In the middle of the afternoon, I get serious about the meal and run through my list of stock recipes. For one reason or another, I reject them all. Too many calories. Too many ingredients I don’t have. Too many “yucks” from my family. Just too dang much trouble.
Sometime after that, I make a decision, run to the grocery and cook a meal for my family. And then the next morning, much like the clock in Groundhog Day that clicks over to relive the same day, I find myself staring into the freezer and moaning, “We have nothing to eat!”
I have not always been this disinterested in preparing meals for my family. When I was young and idealistic, I fully intended to become a great cook. I meant to spend Sundays frying chicken in my best church dress with my sleeves rolled up so I could knead my hands into a mound of bread dough while the meringue of a chocolate pie browned in the oven behind me.
But that was then. That was when I didn’t know. That was when I did not know sooo many things.
I didn’t know that a woman has to have the forearm muscles of Popeye to knead a loaf of bread.
I didn’t know that making meringue requires six hands . . . four to handle the egg whites and two to lift in a fervent prayer for stiff peaks.
I didn’t know that frying a chicken would take a full two days out of my week . . . three hours and a pair of long nose pliers to pull the skin off the chicken, one hour to cook the meat until it is done, and a day and a half to clean the grease off the top of my stove, the corners of my ceiling, the surface of my floor and the bodice of my best church dress.
I didn’t know that becoming a good cook requires close attention to the task. Daydreaming will burn the biscuits more often than not. Reading while cooking will boil the water out the beans nine times out of ten. And adding one little “b” to a recipe will ruin the dish every single time. (It is surprising what replacing a tsp of salt with a tbsp will do to a chocolate pie.)
Over the years, from necessity and perseverance, I did become a cook. In fact, during the time when my sons were teenagers and I had all five of my kids eating at my table, I rarely left my kitchen. As soon as I had the kitchen cleaned after one meal, it was time to start cooking another one. I napped to the hum of the dishwasher, applied make-up by the reflection in my toaster and tanned by the light of the oven’s heating element.
I collected a set of recipes that met my requirements . . . less than six ingredients . . . that can all be found in the food aisle of Minit Mart . . . and prepared in one pot, pan or microwaveable bowl . . . in less than 15 minutes.
But, I never learned to enjoy the culinary process. I cooked because Social Services tends to show up if you starve your kids and we couldn’t afford to feed them any other way.
I suppose it is still possible that one day I will properly utilize my Paula Deen wire whisk and become a culinary Queen in my kitchen. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. I think it is more likely that I will shun my oven for the duration of my earthly days and hope the meal at Heaven’s banquet table is not potluck.