For those of you who know me well, you know that my ability in the kitchen is slim to none. But I thought I would share a few memories of my foray into the kitchen over the years.
When I was about 27, I attempted to make rice for the first time. I grew up watching I Love Lucy, and that was part of the problem. When I started to cook the rice, I decided to call my mom for guidance.
“Mom? I’m trying to boil some rice, and I can’t member if it’s three parts water to one part rice or one part water to three cups of rice?“
I still don’t remember the correct proportions because I haven’t improved as a cook over the years, but pretty soon the rice was boiling all over the stove. Obviously I’d gotten my proportions wrong and now the stove looked like it had been hit by a thick snowstorm. The heat of the stovetop quickly hardened the rice, so when my fiasco was finished, I also had the luxury of chipping the rice off of the burners.
For my partner’s birthday back in 1984, I thought I would cook her a steak for her birthday. She was laboring at a nearby restaurant as a waitress, and I thought it would be a wonderful surprise to have a steak dinner waiting for her when she got home.
I took the steak out of the fridge, and I put it in the oven. I turned the oven on to 400, and proceeded to cook the steak for an hour. When my mom cooked, everything was put into the oven for an hour at 400 degrees. Surely, that must apply to steak also.
Of course, I did not pre-heat the oven either. Why waste time? She was coming home in less than an hour and I had to have things ready.
So, I went into the living room of our studio apartment, and I proceeded to write some poetry or something equally important. When an hour was up, I proceeded to get the table ready for her birthday dinner.
When she came home from being on her feet all day, I told her to relax and I poured her glass of wine. I set the table, and proceeded to put the meat on the plate.
For some reason, it didn’t look like the steak that I had imagined. I’d seen pictures in magazines of what steaks were supposed to look like, and mine didn’t look like that. It was the color of an old leather boot, and it had curled up at both ends into a U-shaped gondola. I think I put some parsley on the plate to make it look pretty, and eagerly put it on the table.
She looked at me with one of those weak approval looks, and I knew that I had screwed up badly. Neither of us could cut into the steak. It wouldn’t budge. I looked at her apologetically and attempted to feed it to our cat. She wouldn’t touch it either.
We headed up the street to a local place that was still open. From that moment on, I decided that her birthdays were better spent at a restaurant.
Remember, cooking is not my style.
Mary McGrath is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including:Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jan. 2019), Newsweek, Wall St. Journal, Betterafter50.com, Purpleclover.com, LANG Newspaper Group, and Good Housekeeping, Please find her work at www.marymcgrathphotography.com