Martha Stewart I Am Not: Confessions from a Real Kitchen

No one has ever been able to accuse me of being the ‘domestic type.' I don't care much for cleaning, cooking and all the other homemaker type activities. As a southern woman, I am sure that this is in direct violation of some Bible Belt Code of Conduct for Southern Belles. I have never been the ‘girly' type either. I do clean up pretty nice, but when it comes to doing ‘girl stuff' like sewing, cooking and knitting, well, I would rather be having fun! I will walk in the rain and not be afraid of mussing my hair and I sure don't mind getting dirty.

So, how in the world did I get into creating my original recipes? Not really sure, to tell you the truth. I like the science of it, figuring out what flavors are complimented by each other. I like the challenge and take a more scientific approach to cooking on a creative level as opposed to just enjoying cooking.

I do not enjoy standing over a hot stove cooking fudge for three days short of forever. I like the fudge, love figuring out new types and flavors, but trying to heat that stuff until it reaches the right temperature, and stirring and stirring and stirring just plain stinks. However, my discomfort has paid off in some great recipes and wonderful dishes. So, I bring them to my loyal readers and share them with my friends.

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A Real Woman in a Real Kitchen

Then again, I am a real person, not someone you see on TV. I have a real kitchen and a real family with real issues. About ninety percent of my plastic storage containers (no Tupperware) do not have matching lids. My pots do not match; I got them here and there, Wal-Mart, the dollar store, yard sales and a few ‘nice' pots from fancy schmancy kitchen stores. Several of my non-stick pans no longer have the non-stick surface. Yep, my kitchen and cookware are a disaster - in some worlds anyway. To me, it is real life.

When I go into my kitchen to cook, it seems as if every person in the family suddenly has business to conduct - in the kitchen. Kids come in for drinks and snacks, mother comes in to wash pots, my husband comes in to get something to eat or just stand by the sink (somewhat in my way, but I am too polite to tell him) just to talk to me. The dogs are under my feet, the cat is attacking my feet and the phone is constantly ringing for my 16 year-old. On top of that, I am usually trying to tackle the mountain of laundry that comes with having three teenagers and three adults under one roof. I have burned pasta because I get distracted with homework, laundry, phone or some other crisis. In fact, I have burned a lot of things. But I am getting better. I am learning how to multi-task in the kitchen and everywhere else. I am so close to replicating myself it is scary!

I have many kitchen adventures as I have learned my way around and become quite the cook. For instance, I know now that you cannot boil milk in a teakettle. Don't try it, I'll just tell you what happens. The milk spews like geyser from the little hole in the top over the spout and it goes everywhere. It coats the ceiling, walls, stovetop, everywhere; and it is this slimy stuff that does not wipe off so easily. Yeah, that was years ago, but it was burned into my memory, really made an impression.


You're only a Failure when you Give Up

I have also learned to remove everything off of all of the burners before turning one on. More than once I have turned on the ‘wrong' one and it usually isn't pretty. Have you ever seen cranberry juice boil in its own plastic bottle while the bottle melts to the burner spilling cranberry juice all over? I have. Did the same thing to V8 Juice. Doesn't smell too great either. Usually, I am giving my cooking only half of my attention so I just clear everything off to avoid any mishaps. When I am ready to put a pot on the burner, I just feel to see which burner is on and use that one.

I have also learned that rack placement in the oven has a lot to do with how evenly things cook. If the rack is too low, the bottom of the biscuits will be black by the time they are done on top. If the rack is too high, the tops will be black while the bottoms will still be gummy. Yes, there is a science to it all and you have to find the methods that work best for you. I am not a big fan of cooking, but I like the challenge of creating new recipes and the science of finding flavors that compliment each other so I do it. Plus, my family would be awful hungry if I didn't.


Passing the Torch (along with the fire extinguisher)

I did teach my kids to cook and they are awesome! They take turns cooking for the family, but the real Godsend here is my Aunt Jeannine. She lives across the street from us and has for more than 30 years. She cooks for us on a fairly regular basis. This is probably the most wonderful thing she could do for our family! She cooks some of the best soul food I have ever had. She loves doing things for people and she loves to cook so I have no qualms with stepping back and giving her the reins. I am no control freak, but, more importantly, I am no dummy, and if she wants to cook for us, by golly, I'm gonna let her!

So, though I am no Martha Stewart, I am a real mom, a real wife and I cook in a real kitchen, mismatched pots and lidless plasticware and all - my kitchen would probably send Ms. Stewart into therapy.

Oh, and I am real happy about it, my crazy kitchen and all. This is what the real world is all about, Martha, take notes.

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