I’m the Cooking Monster!

Dear Readers,

So after 30 blissful years of Kitchen Avoidance,* I decided recently (or rather, my checking account decided) to eat in for a spell. Turns out, eating in means cooking in. And while I was intellectually content to live off of the 5 entrees and 3 side dishes at which I was already competent, I found that my stomach got bored and forced me to subsidize my meals with Burgerville chocolate hazelnut milkshakes which, I came to discover, ultimately had the same deleterious effect on my net financial situation.

You can’t imagine what I went through on my first trip to the grocery store to buy foods that weren’t pre-packaged. I couldn’t even find the aisle with cooking and baking ingredients (although the ice cream aisle kept finding me). A regular employee at my local New Seasons store actually fainted when he saw me with a bag of real honest-to-goodness flour in my hands!

Even upon finding the correct aisle, it struck me that cooking and baking items are poorly labeled compared to pre-packaged foods. Take, for example, my good friend, Tillamook Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. The label is self-explanatory—-you aren’t left wondering how it’s used or what it might taste like.

On the other hand, ingredient items are obscurely marked and it’s impossible to identify their intentions by a simple glance at their exterior. (Like men.) Even as I got to know the containers, studying their labels, trying to figure out what they were good for, and taking the time to sample them, I was still mystified. (Also like men!) Consider cornstarch. I found that this was not, as its title would have you believe, a powder that you sprinkle on corn to flavor it, but rather a substance used for thickening certain liquids. Wouldn’t it therefore be prudent to call it Thickening Powder?

Based on the confusing nature of cooking, about which I’m now a bonified expert (I’ve made one entree and one dessert, and nobody has complained of poisoning, yet!), I’d like to offer a few helpful tidbits to keep in mind next time you’re perusing the cooking aisle or stumbling upon the kitchen you never knew you had:

Expert Tip #1: Just because your cream cheese reads “Cultured!” doesn’t mean it’s been to Europe. “Cultured” means that it’s been fermented with lactic acid bacteria.

Expert Tip #2: “Sweat the Butter” isn’t a typo that’s supposed to read “Sweat on the Butter.” Oops. Anyway, it actually means that you melt the butter on low heat.

Expert Tip #3: “Marinating” meat means you let it sit in the marinade for a really long time before cooking it. But you’re not supposed to leave it so long (for example, 16 days) that the meat goes bad and your entire living space smells like the chopping block at a butcher shop.

Expert Tip #4: The little switch located above your stove is the fan. Use it, especially when you’re burning every item on your stovetop. This will cut down on activation of your fire alarm and subsequent summoning of the local firemen to your place of residence. Although, the firemen are very handsome and I might continue to burn things so we can get to know each other better.

Well, Readers, I hope this helps you in your journey into the wonderful world of cooking!! If you have any further questions, I have further answers—-but they’ll be just about as helpful as my tips!

*Mageirocophobia: Fear of Cooking. That must be what I had.

–Troi out

4 Responses

  1. theron Says:

    Sorry I must disagree. Your reference to men being like ingredients is completely and grossly inaccurate. Your statement was “obscurely marked and it’s impossible to identify their intentions by a simple glance at their exterior. (Like men.)”
    The intentions of men are simple. We are clearly marked! If an individual has a penis he wants to stick it somewhere that feels good. Now some men might have different rules, of varying strictness or levity, on where and when they can fulfill their intentions, but they still all want to. Take Catholic Priests for example. They have a lot of rules. . . O.K. maybe a bad example. In summary, I believe, at our core (our soul, maybe?), we are all just complicated slaves to our primal urges.

    P.S. You are brilliant. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, i.e. men like women that can cook.

    P.P.S. I’ve been to Europe and there is no way that I am “Cultured,” although I did learn a lot and had a many good times.

    P.P.P.S. If your meat went bad after 16 days you either: didn’t have enough marinade, didn’t have the right marinade (not really a problem unless it was homemade marinade, which can sometimes go really wrong, but others can be pretty taste!), or you didn’t keep the meat cold enough. A number of superior restaurants marinade their meat for a minimum of 21 days. (One example being the Acropolis.)

  2. Ellen Says:

    If “the intentions of men are simple” and “we are clearly marked,” then why admit “we are all just complicated slaves to our primal urges.”? The fact that you described yourselves as “simple” and “clearly marked” and “complicated” in the same sentence proves the rule that men are masters of mixed messages and they go into victim mode when women don’t understand them.

  3. Tina T Says:

    You always keep me laughing, and I love the analogies between food labels and men. I’ve been married a long time, so you’d think men would no longer be a mystery, but sometimes my husband still does something wacky that leaves me saying “huh.”

    I like to cook, but being Italian I mainly cook Italian food well (and anything that requires lots of seasoning.) I have had a few mishaps when I venture out of my comfort zone in the kitchen, and yes at those times the exhaust fan is my best friend.

  4. theron Says:

    Ellen. . . I love you.

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