Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lack of cooking confidence

I haven't written anything in forever, but I'm going to try to do it weekly again.  Here we go....wish me luck.

This is a real day (or two) in my life when it comes to cooking.  I wish I could make this shit up.   For those of you that can cook, this will probably be painful to read!

During our late night shopping trip on Sunday, Justin gets the great idea that we (meaning I) make corned beef and cabbage.  I love corned beef!  Plus, it totally is within the lines of my 2 pan maximum rule about cooking anything.  I really prefer the crock-pot and could have done it this way, but I've made it before in a pot, with success, so I was thought I could do it again easily.

On Monday, I'm driving down the road pondering how I will make dinner, and I realize I cannot remember the most basic parts.  I do what I always do in these situations and call a friend.  Lucky for me, I have not one, but two friends that are chefs, and a few that are just amazing cooks,  so I have a good selection of people to consult.  I call my boss, Brian, and he briefs me.....put the meat in the pot, then the potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Save the cabbage for the last hour.  Ok, I got this.

"Brian, how long will it take?"
"How big is it Loriann?"
"Umm...it cost me about $16"

Yea...that's my answer.  He is kind enough to not repeat the question since I didn't actually answer it, or hang up on me and tell me I'm a lost cause and I really appreciate that!  He suggests about 4 hours.  I realize that it's already almost 4, so I go to liquor store, buy a bottle of wine, and put it off until tomorrow.   It was the smart thing to do.

Today, I'm ready.  I cut my veggies and have it all ready for the pot, which is missing.  After a little game of hide & seek, I find my pot and off I go.  I put everything in the order I was told, and put in some water.  Then I start to worry about HOW MUCH water I should put in. (I really do better with an exact amount, "you will need 3 cups,"  but things don't always work that way when cooking)  I put some water in and it's barely covering the potatoes, so I think I need more.  As usual, I doubt myself because of my lack of cooking confidence, so I take a picture and send it to Brian asking if I need more water.  Brian is working, and my cooking questions via text are actually not his #1 priority for some odd reason, so I don't get a reply right away.  Hmmm....what's a girl to do?

So I call Justin, or Smitty as he has been known as for years.    Not to be confused with my Justin, because he would be no help if he even did answer his phone.   Smitty finally calls me back (again, damn chefs more concerned with running their restaurants than my basic cooking questions!) and tells me I should add more water and I run what I do know by him to (again) make sure I have this right.  Off I go to begin this process.

Next step, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 4 hours.  Ok, I think I got this from here on out.  Except I don't because after it starts boiling, I wonder exactly what number on the stove dial will equal "simmer."  These things should be labeled for the task, not some random fucking number! So I have to make another call.  Being that Smitty & Brian are actually working and cooking far more complex food for tons of people, I decide to call Craig.  He can cook very well, so he will know.  But he's at his AA meeting, and my cooking questions don't trump that either.  Ugh.

Finally, Craig calls me, we talk, and  I turn the stove from 4 where I originally put it, down to 3, then we settle on 2 with a cover for the next 4 hours.  I am directed to NOT REMOVE THE COVER  multiple times.  (We lived together, he knows I will open it, look at it, stir it, and whatever else repeatedly!)  I promise I will not touch the damn pot, cover, or anything in the kitchen until 5:00 and I'm all set.  Dinner is in the works, all of my questions are answered, and the house smells good. Success. Finally.  After consulting 3 people to make one very simple dish!

Sadly, this is just a normal day in my life when I make something other than what I make regularly enough that I remember how to do it myself with confidence.  I wish I could just find a book for this. Although a cookbook is helpful because it tells me how long to cook things and at what temperature, it's not really what I need. I can follow a recipe, although I don't really enjoy that.  I use them as guidelines and kinda do my own thing, which usually works out well. What I need is a book to read about the very basic things about cooking.  The stuff your mom taught you, that I wasn't taught.  Or maybe a book about learning to have a little more confidence in yourself when cooking.  That might help too since I know a lot of this stuff, but I don't have enough faith in my knowledge to do it without using all of my "phone a friends."

Oh well....dinner is on, it smells great and I know it will taste great too!  The end result will be exactly what I wanted, even if starting it takes far more effort and phone calls than are necessary. I guess we can't be confident in everything we do all the time!  And I'm really working on this, and getting better every time.  One day, I plan to make something I've never made before without having to call a single person!  That is my goal!!


  1. I literally chuckled out loud when I read the part about the missing pot and the Hide and Seek rescue mission to find it. I used to misplace my stash all the time, too. I have a sugestion which may help to boost your confidence as well as alleviate your need to "phone a friend" with such frequency. May I suggest keeping a cooking journal? Write about your preperation and teqnique, document your successes and failures, use your journal as a reference guide along your culinary journey. I make this suggestion with some reservationsc, however. Truth be told, and I believe I can speak for Brian and Smitty here, I have grown to enjoy your phone calls and gastronomic inquiries. Perhaps instead of questions, you can call with suggestions or to share recipes. Just some food for thought...

    1. That is a really good idea! Plus if I blog about it I usually include enough info to refer back to!
      Thanks for reading!

  2. You are too funny girl! You can always call either myself or Nick during these times since we cook quite a lot. We use books by Americas Test Kitchen that have these tips all throughout. My favorite is The Best Light Recipe. Keep practicing, that is the only way you get better like anything else. And, if all else fails there is always macaroni and cheese!

    1. Call you & Nick too? So I not only bother chefs cooking but doctors researching cancer? Lol
      I don't know if I could live with myself knowing that I interrupt restaurants and curing cancer just to cook dinner!
      The guilt could be overwhelming!