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Cooking with Chrissy

27 Mar

That’s what I’d call my cooking show if I were every offered one by the Food Network. But that’s ridiculous, because I’m not that good of a cook. But it doesn’t stop me from talking aloud to myself when I cook, pretending there is a camera on me.

I love going out, and I do it quite a lot. But going out as much as I do makes staying in that much more wonderful. One of my favorite things to do when I have a night in to myself is to cook.

It’s odd that so many people in my generation don’t know how to cook for themselves. Not even that they don’t know how, but they almost seem proud of it. I think for women it’s some sort of defiance against traditional roles of domesticity, and for men it’s falling victim to gender stereotypes. I recently had an inebriated gentleman telling me how he knows how to cook, how he could cook amazing things for me. I could tell by the look in his eyes that I was supposed to be impressed, that most girls swoon. All I could think was, “I cook fine on my own, thank you very much.”

I used to be one of the masses that survived on boxed mac and cheese and microwave quesadillas. Then I went to Prague and met a girl in our program named Shauna. She was older than most of us by a couple of years and loved to have us over to cook us dinner. The first time she cooked for me, personally, I was blown away. Roasted potatoes, steak with homemade sauce, sauteed vegetables. I hadn’t had food that good in such a long time. She told me about how she was dating a guy in the military when she was younger and taught herself to cook on a hotplate he had. Her skills grew from there.

As soon as I got back to the States, I set out teaching myself to cook. No classes, no Food Network, no fancy cookbooks. I just found some recipes on the Internet that seemed doable and went from there. I’d say the first year of cooking I averaged 50/50. Half of the things I made were decent, and the other half were hopelessly flawed. I think this is where most people give up. They make a couple of bad recipes and decide they just don’t have the cooking gene. Not true! It’s like making a batch of pancakes, the first flapjack is always bad and must be tossed. Likewise your first lasagna might be watery, your first stir fry might be completely bland, you might burn the chicken the first time you bread it. You learn what not to do, you figure out little tricks, you figure out what you LIKE in food, and best of all you learn a way to add creativity to every recipe you touch.

Tonight for dinner I tried out a recipe for Chicken Parmesan that I found on epicurious.com. Not a difficult recipe but the results were amazing.

2013-03-27 20.18.46This was unbelievably delicious, I stuffed myself to the brim, and I have two lunches worth of leftovers. But the thing about cooking, it isn’t just the end result of a satisfying meal that makes it worth it. It’s the process. I like to put on my Professor Longhair/Muddy Waters Pandora station, pour myself a modest alcoholic beverage, and wear my polka dot apron. I shimmy around my kitchen, shaking my butt to the blues, taking swigs of my drink when I have a moment. It’s easily one of the most relaxing, enjoyable things to do at the end of the day.

Today was an average day at work, and there is nothing particularly stressful or bad going on in my life. But during those times, cooking becomes so important. Eating is such a primal need, and when I set out to make a recipe, my brain kind of shuts off all other worries and concerns. It’s comforting to know that sauteeing garlic and onion in butter is going to create a heavenly aroma, that breaded chicken is going to beautifully sizzle over medium heat, that if your soup is too thin, grab a bit of corn starch and fix it.

If you don’t know how to cook, don’t worry. You are totally salvageable. Just grab a recipe and start going.

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