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Recipes for the Perplexed: A Blog Manifesto

Hello, all :)

So, I’ve decided to start something new, and before I get to it, I’d like to tell you what I’m up to, and why I’m doing this.

I am a terrible cook. Actually, I take that back…I have become a cook, but will never have the grace to become a chef. After a lot of life experience, I have gone from somebody who had trouble boiling water to somebody who can cook up dinner for 8 without activating my higher brain function.

I did not think this ability was any kind of superpower, just a survival strategy since I have a bunch of kids and a husband, who all get hungry and do not have the kitchen access that I do. But a couple of conversations have changed my mind.

I was on the phone recently with my wonderful mother-in-law (no sarcasm there at all…seriously, she is magical) and we were talking about a hapless child of a friend who did not know how to cook and who hated to cook. At the time, I was in the middle of hacking up a small mountain of eggplant and zucchini to make roasted vegetables with balsamic vinegar (OMG yum but that is a recipe for another post).

I heard myself saying, “oh, she can do it. She just needs to learn some simple recipes that are impossible to mess up, get some practice cranking them out using her lizard brain. Then start branching out. Next thing you know, she will have the superpower and can get dinner on the table at any and all times.”

I hung up with her, watched the zucchini broil, and started thinking. How did I learn what I know? I never wanted to learn how to cook, and had zero native ability to boot. And yet here I was, having a good time cooking up good eats for the people I adore.

So how did I learn to cook, anyway?

The second conversation got me even harder. My oldest son is an amazing cook…he inherited my husband’s chef genes.  One night, after a long and bruising day, I grimly made my turkey meatballs, one of my go-to meals. And this teenaged boy, who’d had his own hard day to deal with, beamed at me as I served it up. “I love your meatballs. And I always will.”

That just slayed me. Because he knew I made them out of love and he received them with gratitude, and that is one of life’s beautiful little moments of miracle.

So I replied, “They are easy, totally. I’ll teach you to make them and then you can have them always, whenever you want. I’ll make them for you anytime but you will have the secret knowledge too.”

At that point the light was slowly dawning. I really had learned something. Something that other people like me could use.

So that’s why I am starting this blog series. Because, dear reader, food is great. If you are also the kind of person who is freaked by the idea of cooking, I want to share all I’ve learned with you.

And also, some of my meals are hilariously bad and proudly I will share my flameouts as well. Because the first lesson of learning to cook is:

It’s okay to make a mistake. Mistakes are how you learn.

A good lesson for cooking, and for life.

So, for the non-cooks out there, what do you wish you knew about working the kitchen?

And for the great cooks of the world, do you have a favorite recipe that you consider a fail-safe? Please? My kids are getting sick of hamburgers this week LOL

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