Friday, March 28, 2008

Crime in the Kitchen

Note: I’m on a killer deadline at the moment, so pardon if I commit a drive-by blog this week.

I can’t cook.

I know many people say that, but I Really. Can’t. Cook.

The situation is so dire that I’m thinking of possible terms for this condition to submit to the medical lexicon. Should I call it Kitchen Disaster Syndrome? Attention Recipe Disorder?

I’ve always been a lousy meal maker, but I used to maneuver around my shortcoming with a combination of take-out dinners, meals-in-a-box, and frozen-stuff-in-a-bag-that-you-can-dump-into-a-pan meals. But the whole noncooking thing came to a head recently, because for once, I’ve actually been trying to follow recipes. I’ve been really trying. And failing.

Here’s what happens every time I try to cook:

1. I think of what my family and I might want to eat.
2. I search on Yahoo for a recipe, which usually lands me on
3. I attempt to follow the instructions.
4. I forget a minor-sounding step.
5. I study the results, which look nothing like the picture on the web page.
6. I bury the evidence and dig up the delivery menus.

It’s that damned Step Four that gets me every time. Even if I print out the recipe and keep it by my elbow, I get distracted during the actual cooking process and leave something out. I leave out something important.

Take last night, for example. I was trying to make Southern Fried Chicken Legs. Not hard, right? Women like me who were raised in the south are born knowing how to make this dish.

I looked up the recipe, printed it and followed it assiduously. The results, however, looked like the shriveled stumps of thousand-year-old chicken mummies. So of course, I reread the recipe with righteous anger. Then I spotted my mistake. I was supposed to have covered the chicken at some point. Probably I was supposed to have covered the chicken at the moment that I was busy dodging ammunition bursts of hot oil droplets that spattered every time I got close to the pan.

So I don’t know. Maybe I’ll keep trying to cure this thing, and learn how to cook. Or maybe I’ll simply give the disorder an official name, like my current favorite, Chronic Inedibility Fatigue. And call it a day.



Ellen said...

I've heard it called "kitchen dyslexia".

Nicole P said...

Chef Gusteau says that "Anyone can cook." Maybe you should try watch the movie Ratatouille. If a rat can do it, I am sure that you can eventually learn. :)

Nicole P said...

Oh wait...Disney movies are not real. Shoot, I am sorry. I lost my ming there for a minute since I am forced to watch so many Disney movies.
Have you ever thought of taking a cooking class?

Sheila Connolly said...

I'm finding it harder and harder to use a "cookbook"--you know, those things on paper? I've taken to googling recipes and printing them out (in large type) and sticking them at eye level on the refrigerator while I cook.

But even that's not foolproof. How about this: we can collaborate to create a flat-screen computer-book (of readable font size!) that we hang at eye level. You could check off each step as you finished it. Maybe it could talk, like those car direction things. Maybe alarms will go off when you skip something important.

Any willing investors out there?

Kathryn Lilley said...

Sheila, that sounds brilliant! The next step is to look for venture capitalists--probably we'll find them in people whose spouses (I won't be sexist by saying wives) can't cook!
Ellen, I love the term kitchen dyslexia, or recipe dyslexia. Nicole, I'll take my inspiration anywhere I can find it--right now Top Chef seems to be on the tube all the time, and all it does is get me depressed!

Anonymous said...

You are not alone,I suffer the same problem. Therefore,I have a little sign in my cooking area. To quote, "The only reason I have a kitchen because it came with the house."
That's the only possible treatment I can suggest.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I rationalize not cooking much by saying it takes up too much writing time. Instead, I often turn to pre-packaged stuff, follow the directions, and add my own touches such as lots of mushrooms. Then I go back to the computer.

Annette said...

My Cajun grandmother used to say cooking was just like sex, if you don't relax and enjoy it, you'll never be good at it.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Annette, your grandmother sounds like a wise woman! I'm cracking up at the thought of my grandmother even saying the word "sex." Hmm...I don't remember her cooking much either, lol! Maybe I inherited the kitchen dyslexia gene!