Sep 12, 2013

Learning to Cook: He Said, She Said

I placed the hot, aromatic casserole onto potholders in the center of the table, and my two sons both said, "Yum!" at the same time. 

I smiled and said, "Hope you like it," as I slid my chair out and sat in it.

"I bet we will," said my husband, Carey, smiling. "Boys, let’s pray and thank God for this good food Mom made." 

Dinner wasn't always like this. In fact, my husband and I recently had a conversation about my foray into home cooking.

Carey:

Dena is a fine cook. . .now.  When we were newlyweds, though, not so much. Here are a couple of quotes straight from our small apartment kitchen:

“No, honey, I think you’re supposed to brown the meat and then add it to the spaghetti sauce.”

“Dear, I’m pretty sure that you should have removed that paper liner from the store-bought pie crust before you pour the quiche mixture in.”

“Sweetie, is this Cajun fish?  ’Cause mine’s blackened.”

I honestly think her early failures in the kitchen were rooted in one of her strengths. Dena is an ambitious, let’s-get-this-done person. So, if something was supposed to be baked at 350-degrees for 20 minutes, it made perfect sense to Dena that she could get it done in 10 minutes. . .if she could bake it at 700-degrees.

In all seriousness, my cute little chef has come a long way. Start with a few years of watching Food Network during every waking moment, fold in culinary ideas from Pinterest, add a few cups of trial-and-error, stir it all together--and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty good cook. 

Dena:

First off, my husband just got brownie points for calling me “cute,”  “little,” and “chef.”

Learning to cook was necessary after Carey took on a full-time ministry staff position a year and a half ago. (He had been the family meal planner and maker; I was more than happy to be on clean-up duty.) Still, I looked forward to developing a new skill. Watching my favorite Food Network shows had demystified a process that once seemed overwhelming. “I can do this,” I told myself.

I just had to follow instructions--not something I’m particularly fond of. 

However, as I followed recipes and found initial success, my confidence grew. Having our sons and Carey compliment things made in my kitchen, with my own hands, was new...and gratifying. Once I found a rhythm, I even enjoyed the planning, shopping and cooking process. It was a completely different way to be creative. When I got stuck on a book project, I chopped, simmered and baked to clear my mind. And after I was done, the meal didn’t get rejected. Instead, it was consumed with enjoyment and appreciation (most of the time).

There was also something immensely satisfying about proving to myself that I could conquer a long-standing fear. In order to learn to cook, I needed to silence the inner voice that said, “You’re  too old to learn a new trick,” and “You’ll never be good at this.” Instead, I believed that God had given me reasonable intelligence and would help me serve my family through providing them with tasty, healthy meals.  

The other day, my oldest told someone, “Mom’s learned to cook. She’s actually a normal…well, she’ll never be NORMAL, but she cooks well now.”

Dear reader, I’ll take it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It's Back-to-School season for many students in the United States. Parents are purchasing number two pencils in bulk and signing up for school-issued iPads and laptops. College students are stacking beds into lofts and making last minute schedule changes. All in the name of learning. But learning isn't just about school. In fact, most of us continue learning long after we've donned cap and gown and matriculated into the workplace. On Thursday mornings in September, we are exploring learning. Join us as we train our brains, head to the kitchen, and teach others what we ourselves are discovering. And drop us a note in the comments to tell us what you have been learning lately.

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Image by Tim Miller. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by High Calling Editor, Dena Dyer, co-author of Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts.

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