Friday, August 28, 2009

From uncooked chicken to canning my own relish

For years, I didn't have a lot of confidence in the kitchen. This probably stems from the time in university when I attempted to cook dinner for Ryan and ended up serving him half-cooked breaded chicken. Amazingly, he not only still married me a few years later, but even has enough blind faith in me to allow me to be the primary family chef.

So for years, I dilligently followed recipes in books (and always double and triple checked that yes, indeed the chicken was ready to be served). I was always too scared to stray, even ever so slightly, from a recipe for fear that I would screw it up and it would taste awful.

And, I stuck with the same rotation of about a dozen or so recipes, because hey, they worked for me.

And don't even get me started on my fear of baking.

But things are different now. I don't know if it's because I now feel more confident in the kitchen or if cooking for a family of four means I've had to get a little more creative so that everyone, in theory, likes the meal that's being served for dinner. Or maybe it's because cooking is no longer a solitary activity, but something that is almost always done as a threesome.

This is the three of us cooking dinner the other night. Austin bangs spoons and sometimes helps stir or measure things and Alex bangs spoons and taste tests whatever she can get her hands on.

But somehow, this doesn't stress me out -- well most of the time. In fact, the three of us have even tried out new recipes -- ones that weren't in my cooking repetoire. And, gasp, I've even sort of made up a pasta recipe. (I mean, it's pasta, it's not really that hard to toss a bunch of stuff in a pan and then toss it over the cooked noodles.) But I actually made up a recipe that was not only good, but that my kids were willing to eat as well.

Maybe it's because of the kids, that my fear has slowly lifted. So much so, that last weekend, I made not one new dish, but two. And for company nonetheless. And both dishes were good -- and both will now make appearances in my meal planning from time to time.

And this weekend, I'm about to get really brave in the kitchen. Braver than learning to bake (which I've been doing a lot of with the kids lately) and braver than trying out new recipes while the kids bang spoons on the counter. This weekend, I'm going to try making and canning relish. Afterall, I've got to do something with all those cucumbers growing in my backyard.

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