Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result - which is why I avoid cooking as much as possible. I hate to cook. My failure rate is astronomical, and my cooking confidence has suffered as a result. I haven't fully recovered from a disastrous go-around with eggplant parmesan 20 years ago.
In my next life, I hope to return as one of those women who can look into their pantry at a can of tuna fish, a can of soup, some Ramen noodles and a half-eaten apple they saved in the refrigerator and make a gourmet meal.
Recipes drive me crazy.
Once, I had a dozen cookbooks, but I've gotten rid of all them except "The Joy of Cooking." The others were too advanced. I'd read along trying to convince myself that I could make something besides grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and then the over-the-top recipe would have some insane instruction like "Insert the number five blade of your food processor."
Since I don't have a food processor, cooking involves a lot of chopping. I'm not a chopper, slicer or dicer. It is a bad idea to have sharp knives in the house. I'm the direct descendant of dull-knife people, as my sister recently informed me that she did not have a sharp knife in her house, either. When she broke down and bought a set of those knives that come in the cute butcher block thingamajig, next thing you know, I received a call from the ER where she was having her thumb stitched up.
Since I have so much trouble with recipes and cooking, I thought I'd dust off my crockpot and try cooking in it. I found a fun blog, "A Year of Crockpotting," at crockpot365.blogspot.com. This blogger has a self-professed "unnatural obsession with her crockpot," and makes everything from lattes to omlettes in it. I figured I should be able to handle a crockpot recipe for Indian Butter Chicken. But noooooo : right in the middle of this recipe she wrote, "stitch together three pods of cardamon."
Whales travel in pods, peas come in pods, but who knew a spice came in a pod that required sewing?
Cooking involves planning. Smart people go to the grocery store once a week and buy what they plan to eat for the entire week. I cannot do this. I eat entirely according to how I feel. If I've had a bad day, I want to eat something comforting, like a tiny piece of meat loaf with an extra large blob of mashed potatoes swimming in butter. If I've had a great day, I might want to eat something healthy, like an extra vitamin. How can I predict my moods a week in advance? And so I do the most inefficient thing possible and shop every day or every other day, which is more expensive and a waste of time, but I can't seem to break the habit. To add to the confusion, I try to remember everything I've read or heard on the news about food. Is it safe to buy pork? Is farm-raised fish better or worse than wild caught fish? Is the mad cow scare over for beef?
Really, the only safe foods are desserts, and I have a brownie recipe that is always a hit. When topped with a scoop of ice cream, I can easily pass it off as representing several food groups. Sure, it may be a tad high in sugar and fat, but an e-mail I recently received reminded me: "Stressed spelled backwards is desserts."
I couldn't agree more.