In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
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.