I am the least domestic person I know. In fact, I’m probably the least domestic person YOU know. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t know if it’s from a lack of proper upbringing, short attention span, or complete and utter impatience, but I am a disaster in the kitchen.
I think the problem first manifested back in the 8th grade when I almost lit my school on fire.
Yeah, you read that correctly.
I was in home economics class, and after very likely creating a barely passable something-or-other, I untied my apron and tossed it in what I felt was the general direction of the large wooden box that held the other aprons. However, that box was next to a stove. A stove that I had left on. Because of my grace and wonderful aim, the apron landed partly in the box, and partly on the hot element.
Now, I’m sure you can imagine how much grease would have accumulated on an apron that had been used by countless 8th graders and probably hadn’t been washed since the school opened. It wasn’t very long until the apron caught fire. That would have only been a minor issue, except for the fact that the apron was touching the other aprons in the box. Thankfully, due to some quick thinkers and classmates with obviously faster reflexes than I, the fire was extinguished before any real damage could be done. Strangely, I also passed the class. That may only have been because nobody actually wanted me to have to do it again, though. Which was fairly smart, because the next year I switched schools, and in another home economics class I dropped some cookie dough on an oven element and THAT caught fire, too.
I didn’t do much cooking at home. Whenever we had large meals that required everyone to pitch in, my responsibility was usually stirring things. However, due to the fact that standing over a stove and stirring things over and over is completely boring, I really wasn’t good at that job, either.
When I moved out of my parents house and had to start fending for myself, I realized how unprepared I was to do so. The only thing I was any good at was spaghetti, and even then I only knew how to make enough for 7 people. My boyfriend and I ate a lot of frozen spaghetti in those days.
Over the years I have learned how to cook, but I’m not good at it, and I don’t like doing it. I try to avoid doing it as often as possible. When I do make myself a meal, I make enough so that I will have leftovers for as long as possible. This is partly intentional, and partly because I still haven’t grasped the whole “cooking for one person” concept.
When I moved to the east coast on my own in 2009, it was my first time really being alone, single, and having nobody to rely on. I told myself that it was time I start acting like an adult and learn some proper domestic skills. So, I went and purchased my first set of pots and pans.
I was so proud of myself. Such a small thing, but a big step for me. I browsed websites and cookbooks, looking for recipes that didn’t seem too difficult and that even I couldn’t screw up. I was excited to make a meal using my brand new saucepan.
So, I decided to make pasta. Simple, right? Pretty hard to screw up? Wrong.
I did what I was supposed to do. I put brought the water to a boil, added the proper amount of pasta, stirred it a bit, and then replaced the lid, fully intending to stir it every so often to keep it from sticking. Then I walked away. I sat down in front of the computer. I turned on the TV. I forgot about the pasta. I only remembered it when the smoke detector went off and smoke started emerging from the kitchen.
Suddenly, it was chaos. As the smoke detector screamed at me, I grabbed the pan off the stove, where the water had boiled completely dry and the pasta had burnt beyond recognition, and I moved it to a cold element. I grabbed a tea towel to wave at the smoke detector, but it wouldn’t shut up. In a panic, I grabbed the frying pan I had been planning to cook chicken with and I swung at the ceiling. On the second swing I connected, and the smoke detector went flying across the room. It was perhaps an overly dramatic maneuver, but it worked. The beeping stopped. I returned to the kitchen to survey the damage and discovered that my brand new saucepan had turned black. It was completely unusable. I tried to scrape out the burnt pasta, but it was no use. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the fact that after using it once, I had to throw my new pan in the dumpster. So, I tweeted about it, of course. Hey, someone should get a laugh out of it.
Since then I have melted the plastic bottom of a tea kettle into a stove element, not once, but TWICE (the second time was just yesterday, and clearly I have an issue with stove elements), I have cut myself multiple times while doing something as simple as cutting a bagel (I happen to have a phobia of knives and now only buy pre-cut bagels and buns), and I don’t think I could tell you how many things I have exploded in the microwave (note to my friends: don’t leave me in charge of the popcorn).
I have to reiterate that it’s not that I don’t know HOW to cook, it’s that I don’t like to. I get bored. My mind wanders. Hell, I wander. I start doing something else more interesting and disaster ensues. I need supervision. I need timers. I need a way to make cooking fun so I actually want to spend time in the kitchen.
I’ve been lucky so far, but I fear that someday I’m going to set something on fire and not be able to put it out. Or I’m going to cut off a part of my body that I actually need. Or I’m going to starve to death.
I do, however, make fantastic cookies. It’s true. I can give you a list of references, if you like. Or, if you come over, I’ll bake you some.
But if you do, bring a fire extinguisher, okay?
You know, just in case.