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Adventures in culinary mayhem

Two months into my marriage, I decided I could no longer avoid what I have been putting off each evening since the day I said “I do.” I was finally going to cook dinner.

While my husband is no slouch in the kitchen, my culinary prowess ranges from microwaving Lean Cuisines or, if I am feeling adventurous, heating up Campbell’s soup on the stove. (However, I struggle with the can-opener.)

For my bridal shower, my cousin gave me a cookbook entitled “Recipes for the Slow Cooker.” Not familiar with the contraption known as the “crock-pot,” I just assumed the book was designed for the culinary-challenged like myself.

Up until this fateful night, I had not cooked since my college years, when I dabbled with breakfast items and filled my tiny apartment with the stench of burnt eggs. I abandoned even this small attempt at cooking after I was recognized throughout my complex as “that girl who always sets the smoke alarm off.”

Yet this time I vowed there would be no kitchen fire. After this dinner, I would have to disconnect my phone from the thousands of offers to appear on the Food Network. I was going to make Emeril look like Elmo.

I settled on making Jambalya with turkey sausage from a recipe on the back of a box of Uncle Ben’s rice. Simple perhaps, but the fact that I was no longer dependent on the microwave empowered me.

My confidence quickly deflated, however, when I read the first step: Heat sausage in a covered skillet. What the heck was a skillet?

After a frantic phone call to my father, who assured me that I indeed owned a skillet, (why didn’t they just call it the ‘flat-bottomed frying pan thingy’?), I set to work. I soon relaxed into a smooth rhythm. I boiled my sausage. I chopped some peppers. Feeling inspired, I even added a spoonful of olive oil and some spice for flavor.

As I danced around my kitchen, swaying to Billie Holiday as I strained the rice, I understood for the first time why people would actually enjoy such a process. I was making something fresh and healthy for my family, and it felt incredible.

When I heard my husband’s car tires crunch into the parking lot, I set the table and even lit a candle. I wanted to make sure my first homemade meal would be something we would never forget.

And it was. When my husband walked into the room and inhaled the aroma of my cooking, he uttered the last words that a chef wants to hear: “I think I am going to be sick.” He then proceeded to run and lock himself in the bathroom. (To my credit, my husband still insists that his sudden illness had nothing to do with my cooking.)

Deflated, I reloaded the plates in the cupboards and spooned the dinner into Tupperware containers as the noise from the bathroom sounded nothing like the Billie Holiday tracks I was listening to moments before.

Still, I am glad to have had this cooking experience, as I was able to take away a very valuable lesson: Next time I am hungry, I’m ordering pizza.


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