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I consider myself a late bloomer when it comes to cooking. This is a typical dinner.

A Recipe for Disaster

I am 22 and I can’t cook. But it’s not entirely my fault – really. I would like to offer…

By Brooke Hykaway , in Degrees of Success: A grad student learns to cook , on March 19, 2010 Tags: , , ,

I consider myself a late bloomer when it comes to cooking.

I am 22 and I can’t cook. But it’s not entirely my fault – really. I would like to offer a few key points for some context:

First,

  1. My mother is a fantastic cook yet simultaneously a very loving control freak.
  2. A simple cooking assignment went awry when I was in 9th grade and a microwave caught fire. We had to exit the school. The assignment was pudding.
  3. I attended Bishop’s University where I survived on spaghetti and Tim Horton’s.
  4. Eggs are my nemesis. As a result, I received a frying pan and a spatula as a Christmas gift this past year.
  5. I use my oven for making cookies (often a failure) and pizza (store bought). I fry everything else.

I want to stress that my Achilles heel is not the result of a lack of effort. I am obsessed with the Food Network (Iron Chef America is amazing). I am persistent despite my amazing ability to burn food. Sometimes it’s not enough heat that’s my problem, or a combination of the two.

I believe that my flaw – and some would call it a serious one – stems from the fact that I’m missing the foundations of cooking. Others suggest that I should use a trial and error approach. This is an extremely depressing way to learn. I can’t count how many times I have thrown out an attempted meal or dejectedly sat and choked down a charred dinner.

This journey will be a lifelong struggle unless I begin to face my fear of the kitchen. I can’t expect to only eat via the microwave forever or leech off my friends like Laura that try to teach me and/or are willing to cook for me. That was the entirety of my last year at Bishop’s in a nutshell; my best friend and roommate Carling fed me justifying it’s always more fun to cook for two.

Presentation is important, it can hide mistakes like blackened chunks of onion.

I housed another friend recently and he was eager to show me some tips during his stay. There he was, sautéing garlic and making stuffed pasta from scratch. He put me in charge of dicing, which I admit I can handle. I neglected to mention up until this point that my parents owned a restaurant for almost 10 years. I now realize how empathetic they were in letting me work there.

So after saying goodbye to my houseguest I decided to use the rest of all the cooking treasures he’d left behind. I decided to make a garden salad with grilled chicken for dinner.

I diced up some garlic and onion and sautéed them. I felt like a professional already. I suppose in retrospect I put them on too high a heat.

In the end my meal was edible but I can confidently say that I won’t be following the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ mantra.

Next I will combine my love of breakfast with my frustration with eggs. I will attempt to make Eggs Benedict.

Stay tuned. It wouldn’t hurt to cross your fingers either.