Thursday, January 27, 2005

Turkey Surprise

There's something about cooking, when it's not rushed, that soothes me like nothing else. I find myself transformed, singing softly, stepping about our admittedly quite-small kitchen nimbly and happily.

I don't know how this came about, to be honest. For years, I was such a poor cook (I wouldn't dare call myself a chef even now) that I routinely ruined Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, one of the simplest foods known to man. I remember sadly and hungrily scraping macaroni, clumped into unrecognizable globs of whitish goo, from a gunky-looking pot into the trash. Occasionally, I cooked steaks for dinner that shriveled so badly that I would call them shoe leather except that it would be insulting to the shoe industry. I once set my own toaster on fire.

For a time, I blamed my lack of skills on what I considered a feminist stance on cooking. I wouldn't expect any man to fix my car if he didn't expect me to cook. I actually told FMC (who could fix my car, by the way) early on in our relationship that I wasn't a "kitchen kind of girl." No one was more surprised than he when I finally attempted to make something other than Hamburger Helper. (Actually, I probably would have kept cooking Hamburger Helper, but I realized that it tastes like ass, something I either didn't notice or was too poor to care about when I was in college.)

One of my first from-scratch recipes was something I called Turkey Surprise, essentially a pasta sauce of browned ground turkey simmered with diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, pinches of various spices, and garlic. Sometimes it was pretty good and sometimes it was fairly awful, but it was a source of great pride to me, especially when FMC said he liked it. His encouragement led me to continue experimenting. Even when the results were disastrous, he always tried a few bites and promised me that it was truly delicious. (Which has led me to occasionally wonder if his praise for Turkey Suprise was sincere...)

I've since mastered a few recipes, including a some hearty soups, which I love, and a few basic chicken dishes. I bake in the wintertime like my last name is Pillsbury and I make a damn good pineapple inside-out cake, thanks to the Cake Mix Doctor. I've also discovered a whole new shopping fetish in the spice aisle and my Amazon wishlist is littered with Oxo items and Calphalon cookware.

It's been a nice change, especially on nights like tonight, when I find myself humming, dancing, and content in the kitchen, cooking a meal for us to share.

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