But not this time.
This question I face alone, one woman in the face of tight budgets, sharp knives, and possible starvation. That's right, the question every self-designated cook must answer no later than 6pm on a weekday and 7 on a weekend...
"So honey, what's for dinner?"
I like to cook -- really, I do. I grew up as "mommy's helper" in the kitchen, watching her dance around the small space with seeming ease as she created tasty family meals. Whether she fed 3 or 13 (or 30), my mother wore her blue-and-white apron like a proud symbol of her hard work, a sign that the careful planning and endless drudgery would combine at the perfect moment to present a memorable meal for her guests. Even now that her household has diminished to two (and the cat), she still concocts meals for herself and my father that rival many in the most popular cookbooks. Her food isn't always fancy, but it never fails to please and satisfy -- a goal worthy of emulation if ever I found one.
Where does all this fit in with The Question? Simple: with the exceptions of pasta, mac & cheese, and some frozen chicken and rice, my otherwise wonderful husband can not cook. Therefore it falls to me to become the meal planner, provisioner, and provider of edibles, a task I initially accepted with great gusto. I thought -- as all new cooks must -- it would be as easy as my mother always made it seem. Yes, laugh all you want at my naivete, but I've since learned my lesson: cooking can be fun, but it can also be hard.
My husband would say that I cook well, but I don't cook a lot. What he means is that I don't cook many different things; I found a handful of recipes that I figured out how to make, and for fear of screwing up and killing us both, I stuck with those. Talk about a limited palate (yawn).
So he issued a challenge: make just one new thing -- ingredient, dish, style, method -- every week. It doesn't have to be crazy, and it certainly can't be expensive, but perhaps it will help to expand our food repertoire (preferably without expanding out waists!) a little more.
Well dear, challenge accepted. Here begins a new era of foodie fun and kitchen experimentation, complete with my very own blue-and-white apron.
Here's to good eats... and hoping we both make it out alive.