I Can’t Cook – Don’t Ask Me

Captain’s Log   6,088

I decided to consider (how about that – deciding to consider) putting more effort into my cooking.   I was told the other day that my food is basic.  Not in those terms, but that’s what was implied.   It serves the purpose to nourish cells.  Hmmmmm…..  I remember the time when my musical performances were rated as “serviceable”  by some judge on a panel.  I lost $10,000 worth of funding because of that remark, but that’s a lot of water under the bridge and I am no longer a live performer.

But I still have to eat.  So I am considering what I might need to do to step up my game.  I know I will need a lot more stuff.  A pan for this and a skillet for that.  I have a slotted olive spoon, but I doubt if that’s enough to make the grade.  I will probably need one of those nutmeg shavers and a garlic press.  Even though I DESPISE garlic, I should probably cook with on this quest for gourmet chef-dom.  I have a lovely butter dish (compliments of Montana Penny), but I wonder if my guests find that deceitful in some way.  How can someone with such a lovely butter dish be such lame sauce in the kitchen?

So I checked my oils.  Both my canola oil and my olive oil are rancid.  I don’t like to cook with oil.   I use it so rarely it spoils.  I don’t like to dip things in oil.  Basically, I don’t like fried food.  But I guess that will need to change if I am to be a chef.  Someone suggested this.

pam spray

The no-sticky spray stuff

Every can of Pam contains a propellant.  I  did a little research.  The propellant is….butane!  Butane is a flammable substance used in cigarette lighters!  I am NOT going to put that in my food!  And I don’t want to hear about how it dissipates and becomes harmless.  It was harmful when it went into the can.  That’s enough for me.

On the rare occasions I fry anything, I use a small amount of real butter.  Butter is great…..no additives, no chemicals, and it can live in my fridge for months without spoiling.  Everything I cook is fresh.  I don’t cook anything out of a box.  I use real milk, organic free-range eggs, butter, real cheeses, beans, nuts, real rice, honey, yogurt, kefir, potatoes, fresh veggies, real fruit, etc.  I make cookies (rarely) from scratch.  I make cornbread (even more rarely) from scratch too.  I have salad dressing on hand for guests, but I rarely use it myself.  I prefer a simple plate of greens with some tasty tomatoes and dried fruit on the plate with a small sprinkle of pink salt from the Himalayas.  Naked salad.

You know, the more I think about this, the more pleased I am with my simple, unsophisticated food tastes.  I can survive easier than most on that proverbial desert island.  With a meatless diet already in place, I could survive for months without complaining.  I love the taste of uncomplicated Jarlsberg on a Ritz cracker.  I don’t need to dip it in kumquat compote first.

You know, maybe my tastebuds are MORE developed than other people because I really can take away great joy by eating uncooked baby carrots as a side dish.  Or Rice Krispies for dinner.  I can pick up the subtle nuance of food in its primal state.  Maybe I am not such a peasant after all!  Maybe I am a highly-evolved throwback Neanderthal.


Me no like dipping sauces!

No, the more I think on this, the more I know I am a disaster as a gourmet.  I have been made fun of so many times that I don’t even want to really try cooking anymore.  People make fun of my dancing too.  I could do a double whammy and polka while I cook oatmeal!  But only for myself.  I don’t want anyone to see me do that.

But somehow I seem to fool people into enjoying meals at my house.  When they come to my house for dinner, the focus is on the camaraderie at the table.  The joy is in the stories that build community within us.  People do not come to my house for the food, the come to my house for the experience of sharing.  And they always leave with well-fed souls.  Wow.  That is so much more important, at least to me.

So to hell with the nutmeg shaver things and the strawberry hullers!  To hell, I say!  Even if I serve peanut butter sandwiches, that should be fine.  I am not in the food business.  I am in the appreciation of fellows on this journey business.  I will never get there with food.  So I have to settle for fun and engagement.

And naked salad.


Filed under Captain Poolie's observations

34 responses to “I Can’t Cook – Don’t Ask Me

  1. poundheadhere

    Cook what you enjoy. It’s your kitchen: no one else counts :p

  2. Patty O"

    Hmmm…I’m with Dangerspouse; you sound conflicted. If you want to try anything at all, start with really simple things. I suggest three: go to Trader Joes and buy a basil plant at the front door. It will last a LONG time if you water it. The leaves will tell you when. Then go to the cheese department and get a container of the little Marinated Fresh Mozzarella. Those little balls will work magic on your tomato salad…and drizzle just a little of the herby oil they are packed in. Amazing! There IS a tiny bit of garlic in there, but I defy you to identify it. Then buy a small bottle of GOOD olive oil. With those 3 items you can cook Mediterranean style without needing any extra tools or having to learn anything you don’t already do. Since he is already a really-truly chef, ask Dangerspouse to give you 3 more simple ingredients you might try with equal lack of effort. After all, if he has been dealing with poor new wifey’s diverticulomigod he can help anything !

  3. Steph

    Probably 40 years ago…perhaps when PAM first hit the market, the son (17 yrs) of a friend inhaled PAM in a paper bag and died!! I have never used PAM in my life! If it still has butane in it…surely not good for people.
    P.S. stick to your guns about not cooking……!!

  4. I did give you a cookbook. Yes. It has the basics in it. Yes, over your objections, I have been known to use Pam. Roasting veggies in the broiler is easy…..sprinkle with olive oil and toss at the ten minute mark. They go with everything.

  5. I agree, why bother? As long as you can make grilled cheese sandwiches and eggs with veggies and bagels…who needs fancy-schmancy! I cook a little bit but mostly it’s just heating up in a microwave. When I do make chili or pulled pork or beef stew~ it lasts me for days…..and you don’t eat meat, so why bother with cooking.

  6. So…are you following the first sentence of the post, or the last paragraph’s sentiment?

    • I think I will stick to what I know. For now. Maybe when I retire I can cook. Right now, I work 7 days a week. And I live alone. What’s the point of cooking?

      • *sigh*

        You know what? You’re right. What is the point? It’s just fuel, and if that’s all you consider it to be, then the discussion ends there. If nothing else, not cooking frees up time to concentrate on things you actually love. Thankfully we live in a time and place where you can buy your calories ready for immediate consumption and never have to sully your hands with preparation. Really, honestly, I do feel that way. I’m crazy about cooking, but don’t wonder why everyone isn’t. Different strokes and all that.

        But I have to say, I am rather bitter that many people who might otherwise enjoy cooking are put off from ever trying it. Between the flood of celebrity chefs telling us we absolutely MUST get a sous vide or our roast will be no better than dog food, bloggers who spend 4 days plating a hard boiled egg in the shape of the Taj Mahal (go watch this, seriously: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ5Hn-5l2o4), gravitas laden “authorities” like Cooks Illustrated and Serious eats insisting there is only One True Way to make that burger (“only ground sirloin tip with 13% fat, mixed with Bangladeshi pink sea salt, and cooked only in a Le Creuset.”) and page after page of Pinterest porn, people are too intimidated and/or confused to even pick up a fucking whisk. Couple that with the processed food industry constantly cramming the message “any effort at all in the kitchen is bad!” along with their factory excluded glop down our throats, and it’s all to easy just to say “fuck it” and pick up some more Lunchables on the way home from work instead of a chicken.

        And that’s a real, stinking, crying shame. Real cooking is NOTHING like the self-aggrandizing monstrosities we’re constantly bombarded with. Day to day meals – good, made from scratch, actually made from food meals – can be whipped up faster than it takes to microwave a frozen Hungry Man (or Ma’am) Heap o’ Chow Platter. In the time it takes for a pot of pasta to boil – 10 minutes – you can: 1. melt some butter, 2. pour in some cream, 3. whisk in enough grated cheese til it thickens, and boom: you’ve got Alfredo sauce. AND 5 minutes to spare til the pasta is done. And it tastes worlds, universes, better than jarred sauce. And that’s just one dish off the top of my head. There are THOUSANDS like that.

        All one really needs to do is learn a few techniques. Not recipes. Techniques. Learn what it means to roast, to saute, to braise, to steam, and a few other basic cooking methods, and you can cook 99% of all the dishes ever made since Australopithecus afarensis first accidentally dropped a dik dik haunch into the fire and ate the singed flesh. Just grab an ingredient, any ingredient, and say “I’m gonna pan fry this today!” then do it. No instructions. You just know how to pan fry, and it works with just about everything. Vary the accent flavors – a little wine, a different herb – and you have infinite possibilities. This ain’t rocket surgery.

        Cooking is so much simpler than it’s made out to be. I mean, even a dolt like me can do it! If that’s not proof, than I don’t know what is.

        But…you enjoy your Lunchable. I was just blowing off steam. 🙂

  7. Penny Tushingham

    You always serve me great dishes. I have done more cooking over the years when I have company. I test recipes on them and 99.9% of the time they are a huge success. I have a very, very yummy cauliflower dish that’s easy to make I will email you. You could live on it for a week unless you share it with Sally then it won’t last as long.

    Personally I get tired of the same things so experimenting on occasion can have great results.

    Pen Pen

  8. annanotbob

    Your diet sounds pretty good – why bother changing? Though there seems to be too much mickey -taking going on, all this and your shoes too! How rude. Mind you I do love my nutmeg grater, which I use to grate nutmeg over hot milk and honey on a cold winters night, but you don’t get those, so why bother? Xxx

  9. You can give me a Christmas list if you decide to cook.

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