Cooking Challenged



I went out on a limb last night and whipped up gourmet green beans to accompany my signature seasoned chicken.


The chicken is signature to me because it only requires a few bottles of dry seasonings and it’s one of the first things I learned to cook when I moved out on my own. The only time I prepared it for friends I forgot two of the steps, so no one other than my husband (boyfriend at the time) was ever fully able to appreciate it. (Although my step dad praised it to my mom once, saying it was better than hers.)


Why do I need to slander my mama’s chicken like that? Well, because she’s an amazing cook and she bequeathed literally zero of that talent to me. It’s not that she didn’t try, it’s just that my mom can throw any number of ingredients together and create a masterpiece. She’ll try to tell me how to make it, but I don’t do well with “a dash of this” and “just add that until it tastes right.” I’m one who needs a recipe.


The extent of my creativity is mixing dried spices from my rack and sticking it into the broiler. Yet, in spite of “needing” said instructions, I’m not one to use a recipe. They intimidate me. Inevitably, I’m missing 10 to 60 percent of the needed ingredients. And there will call for 40 to 90 percent ingredients my husband won’t touch. I married a picky one.


So, while the rest of social media clean eaters are posting the beautifully presented decorations they’ve prepared for themselves and/or families, I’m whipping up broiled chicken and defrosting veggies while tossing a plain garden salad.


Which is why I burned myself tossing organic diced tomatoes (from a can) into the warmed olive oil and cut-up garlic. It’s not “chopped” because, well, I don’t know how to do that. And why I had to endure the look on my husband’s face like I did tonight of this “gourmet” presentation. Sometimes, I’d rather broil him up and toss the remains into a salad. But that’s frowned upon in most societies.


Here’s the thing: I’m eating just as well as they are. My family is just as nourished.

Some people have a knack in the kitchen. The rest of us have it elsewhere. Trust me, I can clean a toilet like it’s no body’s business, if you give me the right cleaning supplies. I just don’t share it on social media.


So, to my fellow cooking challenged, let yourself off the hook. Clean eating doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It’s perfectly fine to throw chicken in the oven and microwave frozen veggies. Honestly, frozen veggies are often healthier than fresh depending on how ripe they are.


Don’t get overwhelmed with the process that you miss out on the end result completely. Ever been so exacerbated by a complicated process that you ended up eating easy mac or hitting the drive-thru? Yeah, it’s just not necessary.


I may have gone on a limb tonight, but I won’t make too much a habit of it. I’ll stick with what works. If it takes a fancy meal for you to eat great, then by all means prepare it. But don’t let the perceived need deter you from the end goal. It’s just not required.

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