House Work: X is for Exact Expertise

I am not a cook. In fact, the fact that I have spectacularly poor skills in the kitchen has been a part of my identity since high school, when I managed to set the flan on fire in home ec. This is another area in which my OCD doesn’t help – I’m extremely paranoid about food going off, and I get hung up on following the rules, which doesn’t suit cooking of the “add some milk and spice” variety. If I have an exact recipe to follow, I’m a little better off, but I still find myself wrestling with questions like “exactly how boiling is boiling?” and “are you sure that’s brown? really?”

Fear if imprecision is a real problem in the kitchen, and OCD isn’t the only reason I second-guess myself. I get hung up on the idea that I’m not a good cook and I psych myself out.

What I need to remember is that cooking, like most things, is a skill. Some people are more talented at building a recipe or getting the timing right or seasoning to taste, but cooking itself is a learned skill. Expertise is not inborn. I learned divination, I learned to write, I learned to meditate. I still practice all these things. I can learn to cook as well.

For Thanksgiving, I made the mashed potatoes. I peeled them, cut them, mashed them, added the milk and butter, and so on. It was easier than I thought, even though I knew mashed potatoes are pretty simple. I enjoyed it, though. Cooking is one of those things that’s been on my bucket list of Home Skills for a while, but it seems so broad and intimidating that I’ve kind of pushed it off. Hopefully, though, I’ll be working on some real foods in the near future.

4 thoughts on “House Work: X is for Exact Expertise

  1. I am seriously proud of you. Mashed potatoes are simple, but they’re also one of the most “add some milk and spices” dishes ever.

    Plus, in my house, potatoes rival the bread as most important part of meal. XD

  2. Truly an accomplishment. I think of mashed potatoes as one of those evil dishes that can quickly turn on you (and I am a decent cook) so you should be proud. Too much additions and they aren’t quite right, whip them too long and you have a large bowl of glue.. not as simple as they appear.

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