2007-01-18 / Editorial Page

I hate to cook.

"It shows," said my husband, choking down a piece of chicken from my latest creative attempt at meal preparation called Barb's Delectable Chicken Teriyaki.

I try. I really do, but the enthusiasm has just gone out of cooking for me. did my share, mind you. I managed to raise two sons, who were both picky eaters I might add, and keep delicious meals on the table in spite of the fact I had no prior experience whatsoever in that area.

"Filling," hubby now says, "that's what your meals are. They're filling. You used to be a good cook. You just don't try anymore."

Hmph! If he only knew.

When most girls my age were in the kitchen learning to make biscuits was off somewhere contemplating the mysteries of the universe. To put it another way, I was spoiled. I didn't want to learn to cook and I wasn't made to.

My sister, however, learned how and is one of the best cooks around. So is my mother. When I married at the age of 19 literally could not boil water. We set up housekeeping across the street from my parents while hubby was completing an apprenticeship at Abraham Baldwin College and working in Washington.

Every afternoon when he'd come home from work there was a hot, delicious meal on the table waiting for him. Unfortunately, I didn't cook it. My mother's housekeeper, Liz, would walk over, take a few of my brand new pots and pans and fill them with food she'd prepared so that when hubby came home….voila! A meal fit for a king.

The deception worked but not for long. My cover was blown the day we moved to Tifton and I fried frozen shrimp for supper….and every night thereafter for a solid week. Only recently has hubby dared to order fried shrimp when we go out to eat.

I did eventually learn to cook but not without a great many culinary flops and an even greater number of Rolaids. I learned to make cat-head biscuits from the master, hubby's grandmother who ran a boarding house for a number of years.

I learned to fry salmon like my mother and season vegetables like my sister. All over the telephone. I'll never forget trying to make strawberry jelly while following step-bystep directions from my sister.

Nor will I forget how I just couldn't manage to get it to gel and ended up using 10 pounds of sugar and three boxes of Sure-Gel, only to give up and throw it all down the sink.

I have made casseroles, quiches, soups, stews, baked and broiled every cut of beef, fish and fowl over the years and most of my efforts have been edible, if not downright tasty. But I'm done.

I have no desire any more to rack my brain figuring out what to cook, then spend hours over a hot stove only to hear, "This is not bad. But, if you're planning to fix it again anytime soon…don't."

Last week I happened to be watching Paula Dean (by accident I can assure you) as she was whipping up what looked to be the most fabulous beef stroganoff. I was instantly overcome with a desire to be Suzy Homemaker so I copied down the instructions, ran to Bells, gathered up the needed spices and hurried home to prepare it.

I set the table with the good china, tossed a salad, put the bread in the oven, then sat back in my easy chair, content that I was soon to be showered with compliments by my roadweary spouse.

"Did you like it?" I asked excitedly when he took his second bite.

"What did you say the name of this was?" he asked as he took a big drink of water.

"Beef Stroganoff." "What exactly is in it?" he inquired further. "Why do you need to know?" I asked. "In case I have to describe it to a doctor," he said, winking at me. I was not amused. Tomorrow night it's Chinese takeout…. again.

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