I Hate to Cook
I Hate to Cook
29 September 2011
It’s not all the fire’s fault. Although my aversion to home cooking probably started when seventh grade Home Economics class required me to cook a dinner for my family. Not order in, but actually turn on the burners and cook. I took the burning part too literally. I made briquets aka hamburger patties and Tater Tots. Since this was in the early Jurassic Era, no microwaves, everything went in the frying pan, with grease.
Yes. Grease from the bacon drippings jar. Fact of life. If you can’t get your grease quota from a fast food chain, it is very simple to make do at home.
At any rate, I got the frying pan heat up to just below hell fire and fried my first dinner. But being creative if not smart, I made my own apron to protect me from the flying hot grease. I improvised rather than get my mother’s nice apron dirty (which required ironing by whomever used it last). I pulled a long skirt from the dress-up clothes chest.
Oh. Yeah. All covered in skirt as long as I was tall, I reached to flip one of the rock hard, nicely ebony, and slippery burgers, dragged the skirt through the grease and over the hot burner, and Voila’. Fire!
Thankfully my parents left the extra crispy side-dish off the form they filled out for the Home Ec teacher. I passed.
Years later I married the unsuspecting Prince Consort. My cooking skills had not improved, not in the least due to the family decision to have everybody else cook. Even my eight year old sister, who turned out to be a VERY good cook.
Sounds like enough excuses to cover why I hate to cook? Oh, please. Here comes the biggie. Although I am an aspiring novelist and venerate writers of all kinds, I would like to hunt down and have a Big face to face talk with my childhood nemesis, the author of The I Hate to Cook Book, Peg Bracken.
My mother hated to cook as much as I. The difference was that she wasn’t a safety hazard. So cook she did. Unfortunately somehow she go hold of The I Hate to Cook Book. Honest to God, the worst meals of my life came out of that book. Thing is, given the family lack of cooking ability, it may not be all Peg’s fault.
But I’d like to have that little talk, none the less. On my hit parade for discussion are: Grey Chicken and Hot Kill Me Now Tunny Casserole. These are not Peg’s names for her recipes, but mine given what my mother could do with them.
Picture cut up chicken dredged in flour mixed with salt and pepper. Not so bad, right?But now you lay it in a casserole dish, pour cream-of-whatever-didn’t-escape-the-pantry-soup all over it, stick it in the oven until it’s mushy on the outside and gray to pink on the inside.
Fridays were the worst. Hot Kill Me Now Tunny Casserole. I cannot understand taking perfectly good peas, tuna salad eligible canned tuna, cream-of-whatever-hasn’t-escaped-the-pantry-soup, and potato chips that belong with dip, and cooking the mess. Until his death, Dad thought it was terribly funny to tease me each Friday (after I’d left home and started my own Hot Tunny Casserole free household) about coming to dinner for the Hot Kill Me Now Tunny ...
I did note that the minute he retired, he took over the cooking and threw away his case of Tums. uh huh.
When my mother died, my sister and I divided up her cookbooks. Ironically it wasn’t the old classic Good Housekeeping or others from her first days as a young married that I cried over. It was the old copy of I Hate to Cook Book that Dad had buried in the back of the cookbook cabinet.
Who still hates to cook, does not wear aprons, and keeps that book in a prized place on her desk.