I recently decided it was time for my husband to learn how to cook. This motivation was mostly for selfish reasons. As much as I love spending time in the kitchen experimenting with new ingredients or putting my own twist on a recipe, there are just some nights when I get home from work late and I don’t have an ounce of energy left to even pour the both of us bowls of cereal for dinner. And, let’s face it, if I’m going to have my husband cook for me, I’d rather the food were edible.
I’m a firm believer that anyone can cook. Maybe some people don’t know how to properly dress a turkey for Thanksgiving or can’t mimic their grandmother’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe, but anyone can boil water or follow a simple recipe with simple ingredients. Let me qualify my belief by saying that if someone is marginally interested in food, cooking, or eating every day, they can be taught to cook.
Enter my husband, John. Here is a man who has been known to put corn syrup instead of vegetable oil in waffle batter — which makes for an interesting breakfast — purchase English muffins and cottage cheese when I sent him to the store for bagels and cream cheese, and still hasn’t mastered the way to crack an egg without getting pieces of shell in the dish. That’s why it’s so important for me to teach my dear, sweet, utterly clueless- in-the-kitchen husband, how to cook.
When we got married a year and a half ago, John refused to learn to cook. Fortunately, after doing my wifely duty of nagging, I’ve worn him down. He is now ready to learn what the words “teaspoon” and “tablespoon” mean, and the difference between them.
I’ve already given him a couple of lessons, and we’ve started slow. John can now make a successful breakfast of scrambled eggs (sans shells), bacon and toast. When he first started making this traditional breakfast, it was all I could do to force myself to swallow down the overcooked eggs and the underdone breakfast meat. But during the last couple of weeks, I’ve actually looked forward to the days when he wakes up early enough to prepare a hot breakfast while I get ready for work.
After John got a little taste of how fun cooking can be, he took it upon himself to surprise me with dinner. The surprise happened when I got home from work around 6 p.m. and learned he was going to make dinner. Naturally, this was very exciting to hear after a long day at work, but then I realized I’d have to make myself a snack, do laundry, clean the house, work out, shower and read a book because I’d be waiting for a while.
You see, my husband gets the idea in his head that he is going to make dinner, but waits until after 6 p.m. to find a recipe and go to the store to find its ingredients. He usually goes back to the store to pick up one more thing after he realizes he forgot something. Then, after returning home, he proceeds to run up and down the stairs asking me questions like “What is a pinch?” and “Is sea salt the same thing as table salt?”
The dinner he made was pita pizzas. The ingredients were fairly complicated for a novice cook and included items like pesto sauce, roasted red pepper bruschetta and sun-dried tomatoes. I have to say, I was impressed. My lessons were already paying off. All John needed was an apron and I would have considered him one of the world’s top chefs after making me such a remarkable first dinner.
Although he’s had one great success, the cooking lessons will continue. So far, I’ve been pretty astonished with John’s willingness to learn. Not only has he experimented with several ingredients he’s never heard of, but he’s also been thoughtful enough to surprise me with a few homemade meals. Minimal arguing has occurred, and I’ve only had to correct him on his technique a few dozen times. Only a lot more practice, patience and time will tell if my husband is next in line to win the “Chopped” championship on Food Network. Until then, I’ll consider his ongoing culinary education an investment that will pay me back in years to come.