Jack of Many Trades

House Work: X is for Exact Expertise

Originally posted: 2013-11-30

I am not a cook. In fact, the fact that I have spectacularly poor skills in the kitchen has been a part of my identity since high school, when I managed to set the flan on fire in home ec. This is another area in which my OCD doesn't help - I'm extremely paranoid about food going off, and I get hung up on following the rules, which doesn't suit cooking of the "add some milk and spice" variety. If I have an exact recipe to follow, I'm a little better off, but I still find myself wrestling with questions like "exactly how boiling is boiling?" and "are you sure that's brown? really?"

Fear if imprecision is a real problem in the kitchen, and OCD isn't the only reason I second-guess myself. I get hung up on the idea that I'm not a good cook and I psych myself out.

What I need to remember is that cooking, like most things, is a skill. Some people are more talented at building a recipe or getting the timing right or seasoning to taste, but cooking itself is a learned skill. Expertise is not inborn. I learned divination, I learned to write, I learned to meditate. I still practice all these things. I can learn to cook as well.

For Thanksgiving, I made the mashed potatoes. I peeled them, cut them, mashed them, added the milk and butter, and so on. It was easier than I thought, even though I knew mashed potatoes are pretty simple. I enjoyed it, though. Cooking is one of those things that's been on my bucket list of Home Skills for a while, but it seems so broad and intimidating that I've kind of pushed it off. Hopefully, though, I'll be working on some real foods in the near future.