To cook or not to cook

I’m always a little behind the times – always playing catch up it seems – and because of that I JUST tonight saw Julie/Julia – the movie about the young Julie who decided to spend 365 days making the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s ‘The Art of French Cooking.’

 

First, let me say, if for some reason you haven’t seen it, it really is a fun movie.  Meryl Streep is wonderful as Julia Childs and Amy Adams gives her usual fun performance in anything she does.  But this isn’t a movie review.  This really is a blog about a question that I’ve often pondered.

julia childthumbnail.aspx

Do you think people are born with the cooking gene?  Or that some people are predisposed to savor the meal preparation even more than a well prepared meal?  My mother, for instance, loved to cook.  She was no French chef but she made wonderful, rib-sticking meals that were always cooked to perfection.  She took a lot of pride and joy in preparing dinners for her family and seemed to gain a lot of pleasure in making certain she prepared everything just the way we liked it.  And talk about balanced diets.  Every dinner included a salad, a vegetable, some sort of potato, usually gravy, always meat and dessert.

We used to kid her that she started planning her Christmas dinner while we were washing Thanksgiving dishes and was already thinking about her Easter ham on Christmas night.  The woman loved to cook.

I have a friend – let’s call her Susan, because that’s her name – who gets positively orgasmic browsing through a William Sonoma catalogue, spends hours preparing dishes I can’t pronounce, owns every cooking gadget known to man and watches every cooking show on TV. 

Me – not so much.  Oh, I cook, but it’s pretty basic.  Sure, I have some ‘specialties’ that I ‘sort’ or enjoy whipping up but the spirit really has to move me and I really have to be hungry for it.  In short, for me, cooking is more chore than sport and more of a necessary evil than a religious experience.

kitchen disasterimages  I’ve  always wished I had a passion for cooking but it just ain’t there folks.  Now – eating, THAT’s something I can get excited about, but someone fix it for me, please! :o)

So, what about you?  Are you ‘one of those’ kitchen goddesses who lives to cook as opposed to lives to eat?  or are you like me – someone who didn’t get the gene but makes the occasional effort to act the part.  And if you do have a specialty – we are always eager to see delicious (EASY) recipes here at the convertible :o) 

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About cindygerard

Cindy Gerard is a New York Times best-selling author of action packed romantic suspense novels. Learn more about Cindy at http://www.cindygerard.com
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40 Responses to To cook or not to cook

  1. Richard L Walker says:

    I’m one of those who loves to cook. The fun comes in seeing what is in the house and making something good with it. My wife likes to cook a few things, but for the most part I do the cooking and washing dishes. The main complaint is that I rarely write down what I did when I was cooking so if it turned out good I can rarely make it again.

  2. cindygerard says:

    OMG, Richard. A man who loves to cook! You are a God and your wife must feel like a goddess! Start writing those things down! You may have a treasure trove in your hands some day.
    My DH is also a good cook as is our son. Neither got their enthusiasm from me. :o(

  3. Kylie Brant says:

    I *like* to cook, love would be a stretch. But I’m basically a midwest cook, with some Italian and appetizer specialties. What I hated doing was thinking of what to cook every night of the week. No one had an opinion until I tossed some ideas out there–they didn’t want *that* but they had no ideas! That’s sort of what burned me out on cooking. Now I don’t mind it but have to say that being on my feet in the kitchen all day these days tires me much more than it used to!

    Now that the kids are gone, John does the cooking every night. I told him I cooked the first thirty years, he can cook the next thirty, and then we’ll re-negotiate 🙂

    • cindygerard says:

      Kylie – I think that’s a perfect arrangement. Tom is a good cook too and he does cook often and believe me, I’m grateful. I keep telling myself that if and when i ever retire, I’m going to take a cooking class and find out what all the fuss is about. It’s NOT that I’m incompetent – I’m just indifferent at this point. Maybe it’s all those years of working, then commuting, then just being too pooped to be creative in the kitchen at the end of the day.
      I do know that I need to eat healthier but let’s face it, take away those yummy, buttery rich sauces and what have you got? Salad :o)

  4. kris says:

    I’m all about making reservations.

  5. leannebanks says:

    I like to cook -some-. Then I want a break. I’m more comfortable fixing comfort food such as the chicken corn chowder and chicken gumbo I prepared Saturday and Sunday. I want to get better with fish and also include more vegetarian dishes this year. Step by step, though. Can’t do it all at once.:) Great blog Cindy!:)

  6. Helen Brenna says:

    I’m with Kylie, have gotten burned out coming up with ideas. I think I’d like to cook more if I had more time. The time won’t be there for a few years, though, so reses it is!

    • cindygerard says:

      Yes, Helen, burn out can play a factor. When we were first married, I was a baking fool. I baked our own bread, kolaches, cinnamon rolls and was always experimenting with different dishes. When it became apparent that I was basically the biggest repository for all that yummy fattening stuff (no one else has a sweet tooth or much adventure when it comes to exotic dishes at this house) and the pounds started piling on, I just quite baking things.
      Maybe that’s where my problem lies. If I make it, I’ll eat it and the weight issue will go from barely under control to unmanageable.

  7. cindygerard says:

    I know for a fact that you’re a great cook, Leanne. She makes spaghetti to die for, people. And thanks again, Leanne for covering for me on the blog earlier this month. I so appreciate it.

    Still wondering if you all feel you inherited your love for cooking from a parent or if you don’t love cooking, who you blame for that lack of passion.

  8. Deb says:

    I used to love to cook and bake, but it seems like having kids and working full-time doesn’t leave much time to do so any longer. I do try to make a nice meal on Saturdays or Sundays, like a roast or chicken or even turkey. My sisters are great bakers and do it frequently. My mother is a great cook as was her mother. My grandmother never followed a recipe, but could turn out THE BEST fruit pies ever.

    My 10-year-old daughter has started having an interest in cooking and I encourage her to do so. Anyone can cook if you can read, but to be a good cook, you have to have the experience—-at least, that’s my philosophy.

    • cindygerard says:

      I so hear you.
      I do make a mean rhubarb pie. Actually one thing I pride myself on is my pie crusts. I make my own and they are to die for! But, they are also reserved for special occasions because … well, lots of effort LOL

  9. Keri Ford says:

    love love love to cook and bake. I love cooking, setting the table and sitting around it together for a meal. I like playing with recipes and finding something new. I like it all from snacks to meal to dessert.

    Sadly, I wish I had more time to do it! …..and also a family of non-picky eaters. It really just kills the fun of preparing a full meal when I’m the only one at the table who would eat everything.

  10. Cindy Smith says:

    Cindy,
    I admit it, I love to cook. I blame it on genetics though. You see, my Great-Oma was a cook in one of the Amana kitchens, and that passed down, to Oma, to my Mother whose dream it was to work in a test kitchen creating new recipes, to me. So when my oldest daughter thought that she wanted to go on to culinary school after high school, I started to develop my own theory. I believe that there are three “types” of people… those who CANNOT cook, no matter what, recipe or not. Those who can, on occasion, provide a satisfactory meal, provided they have a recipe to follow, and those who can open up their cupboard, take out a few ingredients and BAM! ….wonderful food. Unfortunately, daughter number one fell somewhere in between the first and second “type”. She has since decided to look into psychology, which is close….
    I like the good basic recipes…but occasionally after a morning of watching “Top Chef” reruns on Bravo, I try to do something “fancy”. Unfortunately, I am not an “adventurous” eater, or very knowledgeable about herbs and spices. I would love it if they offered a class on using different herbs/spices/ seasonings in your cooking, and what goes well, or not so well with what….and wine. I really don’t get the whole wine thing.
    This year for Christmas, I gave some of my working friends a different kind of present. I made them dinner for a week. All pre-cooked and packaged, with re-heating instructions, side dishes and desert. All they had to do was pop it in the oven and they and their family would have a “home-cooked” meal, and a break from the pizza express! They weren’t fancy, tator tot casserole, beef and noodles, lasagna and tuna and noodles were a few of the choices. I would share, but I bet everybody has one of these in their pocket already.
    The fun for me now is passing on these recipes, and how to make them to my kids….although some nights, I wish I was eating pizza. 😦
    Cindy

    • cindygerard says:

      Wow Cindy. What an amazing Christmas gift idea! I can’t imagine anyone not loving a gift like that. To come home from work and not have to stare into the recesses of the frig and wonder what the heck you can come up with for a meal … too much fun! Bet your friends loved you for that.

      And ah, those good old German cooks. I’ll bet your every bit as good of a cook as your Oma! German cooking is one of those traditions that truly bears passing down from generation to generation!

  11. Susan Connell says:

    Hello, I’m Susan (yes, that Susan) and I am a cookaholic. Putting together the ingredients for a paella makes me want to dance. Getting hold of an imported French cake mix has me emailing my good fortune to “friends who understand.” And, next to receiving the Tanzanite ring for my 27+ birthday (I am easily distracted by shiny objects,) the best gift my husband ever gave me was an automatic risotto stirrer. The entire process (except for the clean up) keeps a smile on my face. Why? I think it has everything to do with the five senses. Such a lush experience! (don’t confuse that with the amount of wine I’ve been known to consume.) Reconsider your feelings about this science/craft/art. Try out a gorgeous new cookbook – the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) puts out beautiful and EASY TO FOLLOW ones. Buy new dishware! Be brave -take on a scary challenge. Three of my friends are chefs and I’m always excited to have them to dinner. ps Don’t worry – you can eat most of your mistakes!

    • cindygerard says:

      Ah Susan … see what i mean, folks? She’s a true passionista when it comes to cooking. new pans? meh. They just have to be washed. I’ll need a greater incentive :o)
      But I’ll eat pretty much anything you cook anytime, dear heart – save for the mussels, and ceviche, of course.

  12. Tasha Clanton says:

    I love to cook. My kitchen is my haven. I cook meals for my family almost every night. I pride myself on the fact that my children, 4 and 2, eat more vegetables than any other children I know because I am constantly incorporating them into our meals in fun and tasty ways. I also love to play with food to make it fun. For Halloween we have pizza snake, pepperoni and cheese rolled in pizza crust to make a snake shape with olives for eyes. We also do purple mashed potatoes and blue pancakes with food coloring. I also am addicted to kitchen gadgets. I am constantly reading cookbooks and watching FoodNetwork learning new techniques and recipes. My mother was an excellent cook making sure we always had balanced meals and every Sunday for dinner the whole family gathers at her house to cook and spend time together. I guess for us, food is how we express our love for each other, putting time and care into what we make.

    • cindygerard says:

      Tasha – you’re a dream mom and dream cook. What you do sounds like so much fun and you’re so inventive. Quick question – do you also work outside the home? Double hats off to you if you do!!

  13. MIchele says:

    I go in phases. My ‘hate to cook’ phases last much longer than my ‘love to cook’ phases, unfortunately for my hubby. If you combine two or more things that came out of boxes, I call it homemade. And clean your plate and don’t complain. Be thankful there is food on the table. 🙂

    I had a cheesecake-making phase for about six months once. I bet my family would love it if that one returned.

    • cindygerard says:

      I think I fall into that category, too, MIchele. I actually CAN cook and cook well when i put my mind to it – it’s getting into the mind set that hangs me up.

      I think part of my problem also stems from my guy being a basic meat and potatoes sort of man. He’s not much for ‘forays into to wonderful world of exotic foods and spices’ so it limits my menus quite a bit. I’ve tried to slip something a little less basic past him from time to time and the response never quite measures up to the effort. Not that he’s not appreciative … just not too adventurous.

  14. GunDiva says:

    I can cook, but it’s more of a chore. My hubby, on the other hand, is a chef, so the need for me to cook is limited 🙂

    I do enjoy trying new things. I’ve recently learned how to make the best homemade chicken parmeseana ever and how to make mozzarella cheese (now, that was cool), but I don’t have a burning desire to cook. To top it off, my palate kind of sucks, I can’t distinguish between flavors, so I never know what goes with what.

    • cindygerard says:

      A chef? OMG. you hit the jackpot :o)
      Now making mozzarella cheese – that does sound kind of cool.
      One of my fav things to make is my homemade salsa. It’s a long, labor intensive process with lots of actual cooking time as well as mega prep time but it truly is the best salsa in the world! And I love seeing all the jars lined up, sparkling and gorgeous with the beautiful shades of red and green melded together inside.

  15. I’m in the supplier of everyday meals camp, as was Mama. I do her homemade vegetable soup, spaghetti, chili, etc. and most of her traditional holiday menu. The gourmet chefs in my life have always been men. Daddy loved to cook. Lots of foreign dishes, which were considered exotic back in our neighborhood back in the day. He used every pot and utensil in the kitchen, and Mama gladly did the cleanup. My brother and his wife are keepers of the Pierson tradition. In the Eagle’s nest, younger son loves to cook, make a big production, and, yes, use all the kitchen-ery.

    • cindygerard says:

      Kathy – the great thing about a man in the kitchen is his cookin’. The down side is the mess. Never met a tidy cook wearing blue jeans and a five o’clock shadow :o) But the view is still mighty fine :o)

  16. Terry Odell says:

    I enjoy cooking, but it’s my brother who got the ‘gene’ (although we’re not sure from where). He was fixing Sunday breakfasts and experimenting with food from the time he was a kid (ask him for a glass of water, and he’d just as likely color it blue before bringing it). He ended up being a chef. We’ve just moved to 9100 feet and I’m learning how to cook all over again. My favorite quick and easy: Crock pot. Bunch of ribs (your choice of type). One sliced onion. One bottle of bbq sauce (your choice). Water to cover. Cook all day until you give in to the aroma.

    Terry
    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

  17. Hellion says:

    I’m a word that’s between “like” and “love”–for instance I don’t make a lot of appetizers, I don’t own “every” kitchen gadget known to mankind (but I own quite a few), and there are days where ramen noodles is all I have the energy to make. But on the whole, can I walk into your kitchen, take a look at your pantry, and make something out of your pasta, can of chick peas, and questionable frozen spinach? Yes, yes, I can. Easy. And there are days when I spend the afternoon of a given workday dreaming about what I’ll be making for supper.

    I love cooking! 🙂 And I love the preparation and smelling it as it cooks just as much as eating it. But am I some major gourmet cook? No. Do I have the patience to make tiny cakes in ramekins? No. We all have limits.

    I loved Meryl Streep in that film! She was wonderful! And Amy is great in everything (though the character of that film wasn’t overly likable in my opinion.)

    • cindygerard says:

      Ah, Hellion, I can tell you are a true cook. Your excitement shines through in what you’ve written. You go girl!

  18. Cindy Smith says:

    Does anyone else get a small thrill going through the pampered chef catalog looking for those kitchen gadgets? How about “Taste of Home” magazine/cookbooks? Looking at all of the recipes and then going to the grocery store to buy obscure ingredients that you will need to make some little delicious thing that you just know you have got to make. I believe, currently, in my cupboards are 15 items that I just had to have to make something that I seen in one of their pictures….and yet, haven’t so much as cracked the seal on it. My only excuse, for example, is the season….somehow root beer float cookies don’t sound very good in the dead of winter. ( I came across the root beer flavoring when I was baking my cookies at Christmas.) Also just picked up the new tupperware catalog…they have gadgets galore in there! I keep it by my stack of cookbooks….dreaming of the day my ship comes in and I’m not at the airport.

    • cindygerard says:

      Um see that’s what I’m talking about. i did NOT get that gene that gives me shivers over spices or gadgets :o) now chocolate … oh yeah, baby. that’ll get me juiced :o)

      • Cindy Smith says:

        Don’t get me wrong…..standing in the candy aisle at the local grocery/super-center is usually a pass stop. Once coming in, and once going out. Even better, it’s now getting into Chocolate season, you may call it Valentines Day, I call it an excuse to always have a candy dish on the table, end-table and buffet that offers a variety of chocolate, and maybe a bowl of those sweet little candy saying hearts.

  19. catslady says:

    I would have to say I enjoy cooking but don’t go overboard. Even when I worked outside the home and had long hours, I always came home and made very nice dinners. I still did for a while after having kids (15 yrs. later) but kids aren’t so thrilled usually with nicer dinners and I had a husband that wasn’t always available for dinner so I did get away from it. Now there are the two of us again and I tend to make enough half the week so I can have leftovers lol. I did start up sunday dinners for my grown family and all the holidays too. My mom did not like to cook but her sister did so maybe I did get her genes. My sister hates to cook lol. My mother loves to clean which I detest but my sister loves lol.

  20. Betina Krahn says:

    I used to consider myself a good cook, but in the last few years, I’ve handed the kitchen over to the Pool Boy and he loves it. We both love it when we get to do something together and ask advice and work together– like the yummy rolls we made together for Christmas dinner. Those were HEAVENLY. He found the recipe and I had the latent “bread-making” skills and experience. We worked together and wow, were the rolls fabulous. We also like doing Italian night together and making chili and cornbread and spiced corn soup.

    Some of the gals have already mentioned the dreaded “What do you want for dinner?” conundrum. Nothing squashes enthusiasm for cooking faster than a bunch of people with no idea what they want to eat!!! I gave each of my boys a notebook with favorite family recipes when they got married, but so far, only one of them has used any of the recipes. They still mention certain dishes fondly, however, and that makes me proud.

    • cindygerard says:

      I envy you and pool boy cooking together. Tom and I have tried it – let’s just say it’s not a marriage made in the kitchen. We do well if we each have our own little part of the dinner but to cook one thing together?? definitely falls into too many cooks spoil the broth territory. :o)

  21. I love to cook! I love creating new dishes. I can’t bake though. 😦

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