Thursday, July 26, 2007

True confessions

Hi. I'm Jennifer and I have a confession to make:

I hate to cook. And bake. And especially to frost cakes and decorate cookies. And please don't ever ask me to make candy.

For those of you who don't know me, this isn't a revelation. Lots of people don't like to cook. For those you who do know me, this is probably quite a surprise. In fact, as soon as
Melissa reads this, she'll probably recoil in shock and then call me to demand an explanation for my perfidy. I do believe our friendship can withstand this betrayal.

So, I don't like to cook. What's the big deal, you ask?

The big deal is that, at this very moment, the smell of freshly-baked pumpkin muffins is wafting through Jenworld. And I made those muffins FROM SCRATCH. Not just from scratch, but practically from PIONEER SCRATCH.

Last fall, I:
  • cooked several pumpkins,
  • scraped out the gooey stuff,
  • pureed it one of my TWO food processors (one big, one little),
  • strained it through a cheesecloth (because everyone has one of those),
  • and froze it in two-cup batches.

Today, I:

  • put oats in my little food processor
  • and pulsed them until I had a coarse meal.
  • I then mixed the oat meal (get it?) in with the flour and defrosted pumpkin puree and other stuff to make a more nutritious muffin batter than could ever come from a box.
  • I also grated fresh nutmeg using a microplaner. Do you own a microplaner?

I ask you, how many people do you know who go to all this trouble, especially those people who don't like to cook?

Why do I, for that matter?

I like to eat, as evidenced by my ample thighs, and I like for my family to eat healthy meals made from good ingredients. I could have bought muffins at the store or at least made them from a mix, but nutritionally I might as well be feeding them cupcakes.

Philosophically, I think it's good to understand where food comes from. Muffins don't originate in a shrink-wrapped container. Someone had to grow the wheat and harvest the sugar cane and water the pumpkins. While I personally did not go through those steps myself, I can at least start at the next step and assemble the ingredients and create something that tastes a hell of a lot better than anything Betty Crocker could produce and is way healthier too.

On a larger scale, this is how I cook. If I want chocolate chip cookies, I'll bake them, because I think we all can agree that fresh-from-the oven is vastly superior to Chips Ahoy. And, in this house, soups do not come from cans -- except that those Pete buys because he has a coupon he just has to use and then I refuse to serve said soup, but that's another story.

I'm not completely hardcore. I do buy tortilla chips and crackers and other pre-packaged foods. But, in general, if I can make it and it will be better than what I can buy, then I'll do it. I'll just bitch quietly to myself about it.

I didn't actually realize that I don't like cooking until recently. For years I subscribed to various cooking magazines and dutifully clipped recipes. Somewhere along the way, I didn't renew my subscriptions and it's been months since I cut out a recipe. Last month I thought I'd make some lemon poppyseed muffins for the girls, but I put it off and put it off and put it off.

It's pretty amazing that it has taken me so long to figure this out about myself. I mean, I've even gone through the classic five stages of grief:

1. Denial -- I l-o-v-e to cook! I could just cook all day. Let me whip you up a pot roast.
2. Anger -- Is it time to fix dinner already? Didn't I just do that yesterday?
3. Bargaining -- Let's order a pizza tonight.
4. Depression -- Okay, I just skipped this step.
5. Acceptance -- Cook? Why, no, I don't actually like it all that much, but that doesn't make me a bad person. In fact, I'm probably better adjusted than Martha Stewart and I don't have a criminal record either.

Today, I came home from a meeting and Graceful asked me if we could make scones. Scones? Where is that coming from? I have never ever made scones because I don't actually like them. Combine that with that whole baking thing and you can imagine my reaction. But that is what pushed me to just finally just bake the damn lemon poppyseed muffins and be done with it. I went ahead and also made pumpkin and banana, so now I have dozens of muffins cooling on the counters. Graceful and Elegant will devour some today and the rest will be frozen until school starts, at which point the girls will get muffins in their lunches or snacks a few times a week. And I won't have to bake any again until probably late fall.

Well, I've diddled around on baking and blogging far too long. Time for me to get back to work. I'm stationed at the kitchen table today, so I can smell the fruits of my labors while I do what it is that I do.


Melissa said...

and knowing is half the battle

Josie said...

Hi, my name is Josie and I don't like to cook either.

I do, so my son and I can survive and apparently I'm really good at it, but I get no joy from it.

But those pumpkin muffins....can you ship them to Canada?