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A torture chamber where once there was a kitchen

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Nov. 13, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

 I love to cook.

 I have a three-foot-by-three-foot bookcase in my kitchen, filled with everything from the classics – “The Joy of Cooking” and old reliable “Better Homes & Gardens” – to whims. “Southern Living Plain and Fancy Poultry” – what was I thinking?

 The recipes folder on my computer has 80 subfolders with thousands of creative, new ideas. I have stack after stack of cooking magazines, paper clips marking interesting dishes.

 If I were to go out tomorrow and buy every gadget, appliance, pot and bread pan on my dream list, it easily would eat up a pay check.

 Invite a dozen people over for a multi-course meal? Where can I sign up?

 I hate to cook.

 If I have to slop out one more spaghetti or macaroni and cheese meal, I’m going to run screaming out of the house and not return until Big Guy develops taste buds.

 See the problem? My beloved kitchen, my playground, my art exhibit and science lab has turned into a torture chamber sucked dry of creativity. I hate it, hate it, hate it!

That’s what happens when a hobby turns into maintenance. And when you live with the two pickiest eaters on Earth.

Many folks think I’m a good cook. Sadly, Dad and Big Guy are not among their number.

 With Dad, I’ll always carry the “it’s not as good as Mom’s” burden, though he grudgingly admitted last week that a batch of bread turned out “pretty good.”

 With Big Guy, you never know. He’s slowly branching out, but last week’s roasted cauliflower did draw an immediate “yuck,” accompanied by heinous face in case I didn’t grasp what he meant by “yuck.”

 If it were just Little Guy and me, it’d be bon appetit every night. His first non-pureed food was chicken enchilada – grabbed it off my plate before I realized what was happening. I think I’ll keep him – he’s great for my ego.

 Factor in Big Guy and Dad, though, and much of the time, I wind up sticking to what’s safe – when you work full-time, there aren’t a lot of hours and energy to expend on something that’s going to end in a battle or a kid going to bed hungry. I make marinara sauce gallons at a time and cheese sauce by the quart, so they’re always handy and reliable.

And I’ve almost reached the point where they turn my stomach.

I long for veggie lasagna. Pine for pesto. Ache for artichokes. Covet cream of broccoli.

 Sometimes I do all that. But I have to plan carefully so there’s at least one filling item Big Guy will eat, in case he rejects the rest after his obligatory two bites. It’s not hard to find a way to serve pasta, rice or fruit with most meals, but it adds more mundane labor to what used to be a labor of love.

 I think cooking still would be a drudge now even if I didn’t have to do Dad-Big Guy workarounds, simply because the volume has increased. It’s not as if I used to prepare gourmet meals every night. Some evenings, I was perfectly happy with peanut butter and crackers and milk. Weekends were the times to go wild.

One day, I’ll get there again. Meanwhile, I’ll always have memories of manicotti. 

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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