My losing battle with my inner chef

I find myself often staring at cooking blogs, with their beautiful food photography and delicious recipes. And I feel myself getting motivated. Seriously motivated. Fast forward 2 hours, and I am at the grocery store, shopping like a wannabe Nigella Lawson. I make my way home, put on some music, prepare the kitchen and say a little prayer. Then I begin to follow the recipe and this is where things start to go downhill. The recipe then becomes this hidden map of culinary clues. So many things are confusing. Is their tablespoon my size? What the heck is 30 ml? Is a pinch a big one or small? How low is ‘low heat’? And the big kahuna. ‘Cook the chicken till tender’. My tender is not your tender! What the heck does this even mean? I need timings, facts, figures, pictures! Anything is better than vague statements like ‘Tender’. Completely inappropriate.

So anyhow, I try to decipher the instructions and try to use my ‘gut’ to judge the taste. However, it seems like my gut retreats and hides in the recesses of my body somewhere, out of my reach, the moment it senses a cooking session coming on. Let me remind you, in my head, I am still a chef, mixing the stuff, using instinct, and preparing a delicious meal. So I keep going, but then the dreaded moment happens. Everything is mixed. The chicken has been added. Now comes the wait. My heart beats in anticipation and panic. I have no idea how long I must do this for. So every 10 minutes I open the oven door, unwrap the foil, poke the crap out of the chicken, get frustrated and then put it back in for another 10 minutes.

There is also an element of fear as I cook this chicken. If undercooked, it can kill the eater. Oh no. I definitely don’t want to be a murderer. So I keep on cooking it. Poking it every 10 minutes, to make sure its ‘tender’ (whatever that means). Finally after cooking for 1.5 hour I decide its done and pull it out. Out comes this dry and blah chicken. My inner Nigella dies.

I really don’t know why me and cooking don’t get along. I want to be the girl who ‘whips something up’ in 5 minutes and everyone licks their fingers as they ask for seconds. You know, it may be this pressure that leads me to panic in major cooking moments and freeze. The recipes seem so easy and then when the moment approaches, I find myself like a headless chicken (such a wrong analogy here!) in the kitchen, trying to make the dish edible.

But then something happens. My husband walks in, tastes the chicken ignoring my screams that this deadly pale chicken may kill him, and says the unthinkable: ” It’s good! Great going” and walks away as I stare incredulously at him.

My battle with cooking may be a long one, but I am not ready to give up just yet. It’s going to take much more overcooked chickens, uncooked rice and burnt dishes to break me. So bring it on bland chicken. Give it all you’ve got.


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