Monday, April 2, 2012


Is cooking one of those things that either you like to do, or you don’t? Is there a middle ground?

For years, I’ve tried to figure out why I have an aversion to it. Could it be that I lack a “cooking gene,” just as I lack a “shopping gene?” (I wrote about it in May, 2009.)
I hear some of you saying, “She doesn’t like to cook. She doesn’t like to shop. What kind of a woman is she?” Do these voices reflect my lack of self-esteem in the kitchen and the mall? (By the way, is self-esteem still a buzzword? I like to stay current.)

I grew up in a family where cooking was executed more from necessity than joy. There were no home-made rolls or lasagna.  Everything was made quickly, aside from a few Sunday and holiday dinners. However, the southern roots of my parents made certain familiar things easy and fast. Cutting up a chicken was done lickety-split, and so was the mashing of potatoes.
As a little girl, baking Betty Crocker cakes and homemade peanut butter cookies was fun; especially because I got to lick the bowl. (After a few fights over the bowl, Mom devised a system for brother and me to have an equal share.)  But as I got older, it was time to step it up. Once, Mom left a chicken thawing in the sink for me to disassemble when I got home from school.

“Ewww,” is what I felt. I’d seen her do this a hundred times, but still, the headless, fleshy creature grossed me out. That was the beginning of my realization that I don’t like food preparation and ultimately, cooking.

How can a person love, love, looove food, yet lack the motivation to prepare and cook it?

I know – there are millions of others who feel the same. And I guess they do what I do – they get by.

Oh, once in a while I enjoy making something. It has to be delicious and highly anticipated; and I can’t be rushed.  But, after five or six times of making it, the process goes into the boring and tedious category. The thrill is gone.

Another deterrent is my finicky family. My husband hardly eats carbs, so there goes rice (I use brown rice!), pasta, white potatoes, rolls, and anything with sugar, like a pineapple sauce over chicken. Leftovers hidden in clear plastic containers evade his palate, too.

Daughter #1 doesn’t eat beef or pork. And, if there is the slightest hint of even a piece of onion being in a dish, that’s a deal breaker. Same for things in the wet category like mayo or salad dressing. There goes chicken, shrimp, and tuna salad. Thankfully, she does like pasta sauce.

One of my favorite standards is a broccoli and diced ham quiche. Three of the five of us like that - 60% approval – not good.

I could go on, but I won’t. I think you get the point.
Somehow, we all eat and we’re all healthy. Everyone has learned to roll up their sleeves and modify their meals.

The cooking dilemma is on my mind because I have children – girl children.
The majority of women I socialize and/or communicate with, believe that it is their job to prepare the meals. They don’t actually say it, like, “It’s my job,” but they say other things, like, “John will be home soon and will want his dinner.” Or, “Michael doesn’t like fish, so I hardly ever make that.” Or, “No way Fred will cook.” Is it the same with the younger women, too?

What’s in store for my three girls? One of them helps her dad with cooking on holidays when he makes the meal, and she will cook an occasional Saturday morning omelet. Another will make sandwiches filled with cheese, hummus, and her favorite veggies. The third thrives from things that she can take out of a bag or box and put into the toaster or microwave.

Poor girls. They’re just like their mama! When they get married, will their husbands be the sons of mothers who never expected them to lift a finger in the kitchen. I hope not.

So many of you like to cook. I see it on your blogs. It’s like art.
For me, it seems a waste of time; like I could be doing something else. But, gotta eat; gotta do it. And really, it’s okay.

And my girls will be okay, too.
What is the cooking routine in your home? Are the kids included? Is there a difference between what the girls and boys do?


Stephanie said...

I'm going to say there is a middle ground! I don't love cooking, but I don't hate it. What I do hate, is the buying of the groceries and the cleaning of the dishes. Hmm Perhaps what it comes down to is that I am just lazy? :)

Judy Thomas said...

Cooking is a joyful, meditative and creative experience for me...and I think I would still do it even if it wasn't, because home cooked tastes better and is healthier. And my spouse does the dishes.
(Ugh on the photo for this post tho'!)

Hilary said...

I'm with Stephanie. I neither love nor hate it but the shopping and the cleaning are in the "strongly dislike" category.

Abby said...

Count me as another middle grounder. I enjoy cooking, but not enough to really make it a priority. When my kids were younger, they were more picky. Now that they're older, they (and the husband) eat anything and everything, so "my" job has gotten easier in that respect!

And I do feel like it's my job, from the day we decided I would stay home with the kids and we'd live off my husband's income, even now that I work part-time. He definitely brings home the lion's share. My oldest likes to cook on the grill, but maybe he just likes to play with fire. My middle son likes to bake occassionaly, but maybe he just likes eating baked goods!

Another fun post, Anita!

Sharon said...

Ah, Anita...I so understand this! Sometimes I like to cook, other times not so much. I very rarely try new things because I've had such disastrous results. I really would like to learn to cook better meals, but I'm just not into it.

Your post has me wondering..why do I feel like I'm the one who should be cooking??? Then I husband will cook only if I tell him what to cook and if he knows how...SIGH.

MissKris said...

Right there with you on both of 'em, honey. Hate to cook, hate to shop, and DETEST grocery shopping. I do 'em when I have to but I don't enjoy either one.

Unknown said...

I love to cook but since getting remarried, I actually dread it. There are way too many variables to making one meal. No one eats leftovers (except me) which means a new meal every day. Some won't eat ground turkey, anything with sour cream, others like certain name brands and if it is an off brand, will not eat it. Others are texture sensitive and will stay away from anything that looks squishy. It has really tested my love for cooking always having to think about who likes or doesn't like something. Even spaghetti turns into a feat because the sauce has got to be a certain brand. Stepson wants his with pepperoncinis in it. Stepdaughter doesn't like hers with meat. Other stepdaughter wants meat. I like mine all stirred together and J likes the sauce poured individually on each pasta plate. I hope I can learn to make it work like you do.

Donna. W said...

For grandchildren who won't eat onions or tomato chunks or chopped sweet peppers in their food, I use my food processor and pulverize those things. I make sure they don't see me do it. Nobody is the wiser.

Rebecca S. said...

Hmmmm...what to say, what to say....
You know I like to cook, though I am certainly no gourmet. I grew up in a 'everything from scratch' family with my mother doing all the cooking until she went back to work. My sisters and my brothers are good cooks, mainly because we all like to eat healthily and love food. That has a lot to do with it. I'm very good with a recipe, which over time I will adapt to the tastes of myself and my family, but my eldest daughter is absolutely fearless in the kitchen, as are my three sisters. I watch her and I wish I could be more like her, but I'm of a more cautious mold. My kids all love food so they are in the kitchen with me a lot. I have made sure that my boys can make a basic meal for themselves: french toast, a bagel melt, pasta, etc. I don't want them to feel like some girl is going to do it for them for the rest of their lives.
Anita, you can't help who you are and what you are or aren't into. Your family seems to get by just fine, and it sounds like they all eat some version of a healthy diet. It's like me with gardening. Theoretically I'd love to be 'a gardener' with a capital G, but unfortunately, I'll most likely always be a small g gardener. My husband is honestly much more into it than I, even though I admire other gardeners so very much. You would think that would be enough to get me to put more effort into it, but somehow like you with cooking, it just doesn't grab me enough. So why fight it?

Anita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita said...

(This comment was sent to me in response to this post.
Hi Anita! I just have to comment on your blog. You and I are both lacking in the "like to cook & shop" gene!! I just do not enjoy it! I hate grocery shopping....I always forget something. I have great intentions with what I buy, but then by late afternoon when dinner time rolls around, I'm TIRED and I don't want to make the effort. My kids are picky, too. Ironically Seth, who used to only eat pasta and PB&J, now mostly wants meat! None of them particularly like veggies, tho' I love them, so its wasted prep time. I used to love to bake, but now realize how easily I can gain weight if I bake too much (no willpower)!

And as far as cutting up a chicken goes? HA! NEVER!!!! I would starve first! My mom could do it lickity split, just like you said. I pretty much only buy frozen chicken breasts b/c I hate handling raw chicken. I can handle raw beef more easily but it all sort of grosses me out! LOL! I always said that if I were rich, and I could hire only one person to help me, it would be a cook! I do love to eat also, I just do not enjoy food preparation! I am truly blessed that my husband not only enjoys cooking, but also food shopping! Tho' I usually do most of the grocery shopping, he doesn't mind going by there at all (to pick up what I forgot) and he can make some truly yummy evening meals w/o much effort it seems. He grew up cooking b/c he had a little brother who was 13 years younger than he was and his mom was working and so he prepared a lot of JOe's meals. My sons, however, have not learned or cared to learn this art. When Mike is no longer tied to the college campus food, he will have to find a girlfriend to cook for him or he will go broke eating out. Seth...cook? He can pour a bowl of cereal but that is about it. Julie does love to cook, which is soooo wonderful when she is home from college! She is a nutrition major and loves to try new recipes...but she also likes to bake so we usually gain 5 lbs. each while she is home!

Anyway, I loved reading your blog and just thought I'd share again that we are on the same wavelength!


Rob-bear said...

I learned to cook when I was in Boy Scouts. I have retained the basic understanding necessary for the task. But I don't particularly like to cook. Neither does my wife. Our son stays home, schools his children, does the cooking and cleaning. Our daughter works and cooks.

I think we all view cooking as "too much like work." That said, most of us can do some pretty good things. I'll leave myself out of that; what I prepare is strictly utilitarian — about what you might expect from a Bear.

Linda Hensley said...

I'm a bi-polar cook. Sometimes love chop, chop, chop, simmer meditation, and sometimes a microwaved pizza is good enough, but I always love eating and hate shopping. When I was cooking for kids, I pulverized things in the blender to hide things too. I also found that boys will eat anything as long as it includes apples and sugar. I also found "If you don't eat this today, you're cooking tomorrow" a very good seasoning :)

Anonymous said...

I hated cooking when we lived in Saipan mostly because there was such a lack of variety in our little stores! Here in Japan I've learned to love cooking because there is so much fresh food to choose from! The variety of fresh vegetables and such makes shopping and cooking fun and interesting!

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Your girls will be fine. There's more to life than cooking! lol But you never know. They might grow up to enjoy it. My mom was a good cook but she never liked for me to be in the kitchen so I just avoided it. So it took me a little longer to develop cooking skills than most. I'm a person who has a love/hate relationship with cooking. Sometimes I love it and other times I can't stand to be in the kitchen. Go figure! Everyone in the house knows. It's kind of feast or famine around here. They are always happy when I'm in the cooking mood!

Buckeroomama said...

I never really cooked when I was younger and still living with my parents. It wasn't until I moved out and started living on my own that I got interested in cooking. On days when I have to cook, I take pleasure it in, but one thing I don't like: cleaning up afterwards!

Sr Crystal Mary said...

I can't say that I love cooking anymore, as I have had years of it. Occasionally I will enjoy to cook something, and one thing I do well is lasagna. It takes a fair bit of time to prepare so I make it on for special times. My kids grew up on Italian food, and love it. They were not very picky, so I can't imagine cooking for them if they were?? Thats probably the reason you are put off?? Because you have to work out what to make so that every one is happy.. It sounds like you do a great job though, so one day you will reap the reward, when your children tell theirs, what a great cook mum was.. .. Much love Crystal xx