When I was a kid, I liked the idea of cooking and baking. After all, Nancy Drew was a fabulous cook…whipping up soufflés and chicken consommé and sponge cake all while deftly solving thrilling crimes, driving a yellow convertible and wearing a dress made of spider silk. However, most of my culinary excursions ended in flames. And I don’t mean flames of glory. Real ones. It got so that my daddy told me that usually stuff was done way before that particular timer went off. There were two things that I could make well consistently…apple pies and sandwiches. Everything else…well, let’s just say that you were much better off if my sister was driving the Foodie Express. I only remember her having one off day, and even then she had an excuse…our mom was in labor with one of our brothers, so it was totally natural for her to mix up tsp and tbsp when it was time to put the baking soda into the pancake batter.

Fast-forward about ten years to when I was on my own for the first time…and it was either eat charcoal and sandwiches or learn to cook something. Luckily, I had a patient roommate who willingly provided adult supervision and candid feedback as she tried to teach me how to cook authentic Puerto Rican dishes like pinchos and arroz con habichuelas.

Fast-forward another ten years. I’m pregnant and on strict bed rest because my baby boy keeps trying to arrive way too early. I discovered for the first time ever that daytime television is pretty much stupid. Then, I found Food Network. Holy potatoes. I was a goner. I learned how to make marshmallows and fortune cookies…the best ways to handle meats…and I won’t even go into the awesomeness of Pumpkin Wars. My patient husband has put up with hours of Food Network shows since then. In my defense, it’s all to his extreme benefit because I haven’t burned anything since Christmas. (Knock on coconut…) I’m getting way awesome with sauces and I’m not afraid of my food processor anymore.

I can honestly say that a new interest was ignited (see what I did there?) in me during my involuntary time of leisure, and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to fizzle out any time soon. It’s yet another form of creative expression. I can happily say that even my most charred experiments taste better than any of my oil paintings, and my need for instant results is satisfied in a way that cross-stitching just isn’t able to do.

Maybe someday I’ll open a restaurant. It’ll be called “Order Out of Chaos.” We’ll have fire extinguishers on every table…just in case.


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