I love food. I really do. I love it so much, I have to buy bigger clothes to fit all the love in.
I love to taste new dishes, to watch the cookery channel, to smell it, to read recipe books. I love browsing in grocery stores (especially in the UAE) to see all the different food stuffs available.
Food is wonderful. I love everything about it. Except for one tiny thing.
A failure of mine in the Domestic Goddess stakes. I happen to be a terrible cook.
My cooking skills are legendary. And not in a good way. Just ask my family. I didn't actually burn down the kitchen you know. Just merely blackened the walls a bit.
The second time was marginally worse, because the pan actually buckled. Its really wasn't that bad. The first incident was all the fault of a boiled egg. I managed to burn it. Stop laughing, its actually very easy to do.
All you do is to put the egg in a pot, not set the timer, and go read a book. A very absorbing book. You'll eventually notice the smell. Probably after a half an hour or so. I know this, because it happened to me. Exactly as described. And burnt boiled eggs don't exactly smell very nice. And scrubbing the black smoke off the backsplash is not easy you know.
The second time was a bit scarier. I left oil in a pan on the stove to heat, so that I could quickly make myself a snack before going off to evening classes at 'varsity. Except I got involved in a book again, and was again shaken from my reverie by a Bad Smell of burning oil, bent frying pans and black smoke.
This time, the scrubbing took a lot longer and I nearly missed my bus. So needless to say, by the time I got married, I had this Reputation. For being a Bad Cook.
Not exactly Domestic Goddess material, but fortunately my Dear Husband took a chance and married me anyway. This Reputation has stuck. Even when I do things successfully,
Like the first time I made a cheesecake from scratch. In turned out perfectly. Was extremely delicious. And my Brother-in-Law, on complimenting me, asked whether it was a Farmers Pride mix.....
It wasn't and I was suitably offended, but the family thought it hysterical, because thats the kind of reputation I had. If it didn't come out of a box, then I probably didn't make it.
But as a result of that cheesecake, my reputation began improving. Instead of "oh, well, she's not that great in the kitchen," the commentary was upgraded to "oh, well, she's not that great in the kitchen, but she makes an excellent cheesecake."
I have learnt to cook the basics over the years. My kids love my macaroni cheese, my tuna salad, and my mince & pasta bake. Its not hard to do pasta. I've also invented (sort of) a dish of baked pork chops in a chutney marinade (only because the grill function on my first oven didn't work).
I've even done a roast or two. And even a pot roast when we were still living in the one-bedroomed flat with the wonky two-plate stove. But I have yet to be creative in the kitchen. You know, make things from scratch.
I have to follow a recipe, but because I am so nervous of trying new things (in case I burn down the kitchen again), I seldom actually do.
But just lately, the Domestic Goddess of Cooking in me, has been rearing her head, and has been encouraging me to experiment. Slightly. I even made my first milktart recently. It wasn't enough for that hidden gourmet chef within me.
So I tried a new recipe last night - Spiced Lamb & Pumpkin Pilaf. And it worked! And it tasted good! And the kids ate it, even though they hadn't seen it before!
I was really proud of myself. So much so that I am going to reward the family for actually eating it without being rushed to hospital by making one of my famous cheesecakes!