When you take on the habit of talking about food most (all) of the time, people are bound to make some assumptions. When you decide to start a website dedicated to this habit, this is a sure thing. A sure thing like dessert after dinner or lemons and eggs in the fridge.
The front-runner? "Cooking just comes so naturally to you." It's not that I can't see where that might come from. I can. I talk about it a lot and I only post the prettiest things here 90% of the time.
But let me clear this up: eating comes naturally to me. As for cooking? Well, I do love it. But more than loving it, I need it. Even when I oversalt, undercook and generally turn my kitchen into Chernobyl, I am pretty zen. It's quiet. It smells good. Having this physical process wherein I turn plants and oils and spices into something I want creates a space I can think in. And I'm a chatty girl so finding a spot above all my own noise? Priceless.
That being said, I make too many goofy mistakes day after day to be in the same sentence as natural. Take last night's dinner: Coconut Milk Chicken. This was one of those recipes I'd seen and just had to make. I defrosted my chicken well in advance thinking the opportunity would present itself. It did not.
By Wednesday, it was necessity. I started it at 9pm when I got home and sat down to eat at 11:20pm. I needed that chicken. I also needed a 5 quart Dutch oven but decided I could "make it work" with this ovular 2.5 quart. It is very good that no part of my job requires me to be a "natural" at physics because I grossly underestimated the size of the chicken vs the size of the vessel vs the volume of coconut milk. See all that chicken brimming over the top of the pot? See all that pink liquid sitting below the pot? That used to be in the pot with the chicken. Silly chicken. Silly physics. Silly TKTC.
And another thing. The really "together" cooks? The naturals? In my head their kitchens are clean. They have a full set of pots and pans and lids that match. They may have an oven and stove too young to have known life without the Food Network. They clean as they go.
I bought a bottle of wine for $3.50 at Jewel last night (Golden Gate Sauv Blanc, anyone?) then I drank a third of it while my chicken roasted. Out of a glass that was meant for milk. All my real wine glasses are dirty. I have two pots with matching tops, that is all. I did not own a wooden spoon until three weeks ago. My kitchen is a horror because I hate doing dishes. Potentially more than expense reports which is really saying something. Not so much a natural, at least not in my head.
If I could get the same zen feeling from a long run that I get cutting multi-colored carrots into little medallions, I would be super marathoner. I'd like to make more time for that part but until the balance is struck, I'll make good meals with good food and take the stairs.
I ate that chicken at almost midnight last night. And it was good. It was messy, I didn't follow the recipe to a tee and I had to use a turkey baster to clean my stovetop out but by the time I ate? I felt myself. That is the most natural thing about it.
I'm far from being the only blogger who finds herself relishing a mess in the kitchen. The Pioneer Woman, aside from being just a generally lovely person, is a home cook who just loves it. You can hear it when her drawl leaps right off the monitor. It's messy, it's got butter in it and you should just grab a spoon and enjoy it hot out of the pot. And lucky for all of us, Ree's step by step photos make for more fool-resistant recipes than most.
This woman who loves to cook (but cares not for the pretentious parts) wrote a cookbook, the Pioneer Woman: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. And that cookbook sounds like her, looks like her and my guess is that if you were to put the book in the oven at 350, it would come out tasting like tres leches cake (please don't try this). It's a good book.
And I have two copies to give away- a week before the book is officially released.
GIVEAWAY RULES Starting at midnight CST Friday October 23, and going until 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 27 entries are open to answer this question: What's your ultimate comfort food?
I'll choose the two winners with a randomizer and announce them next Wednesday. Bon Chance and Bon Appetit!