Cooking On Crack


Disclaimer: I realize at this point that my last entry had a slight reference to substance abuse.  At this time I would like to say that the title of this post in no way implies that I am in fact on crack nor do the pictures, though hilariously funny, mean that I was under the influence of crack cocaine while they were taken.

I’ve never been good at following directions.  Never. 

I have several memories of my childhood that include adults getting frustrated with me.  In fifth grade we had a day where we were making origami swans.  I had the directions on a sheet right in front of me, as the rest of the class did.  I couldn’t get it.  My teacher kept saying, “FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS!” I thought I had.  My swan ended up looking like something my brother had shot at me only a week earlier through a straw.  

Oh! But then there was fourth grade when asked to write a haiku. We received an entire lesson on the form and structure of the poem.  We were to write our own original and I was thrilled. Surely I would have the best haiku of the class.  I quickly finished and brought the poem up to my teacher who said without emotion, “No. That’s not right. Read the directions.” Again I tried, this time sure that I had achieved my goal but again I was slighted and returned to read the jibberish that somehow was to direct me to my end.  One by one all my classmates successfully turned in their poems and the excellent ones were posted with pride on the bulletin board.  I stayed in from recess to try and finish mine but never did.  Sad? I know.cookingoncrack3

Then there was the first time I washed my face.  My mom had told me exactly what to do and how and gave me everything I needed. But in my head I had this great dramatic picture of a model with thick which soap caked on her face and I could see myself in her as she splashed huge handfuls of water against her perfect skin.  So I pasted bar soap on my face as if it were a crayon and practiced splashing it off.  I got water everywhere and didn’t get any soap off.  When I came downstairs frustrated my mom laughed hysterically.  I’ve had acne ever since.cookingoncrack2

Cooking is no exception for me.  When I look at a recipe my eyes glaze over and I can’t focus on the words that splatter across each page.  I get dizzy just trying to make sense of everything. I don’t like being told what to do.  I think to myself, “I don’t need this. I have the basic ingredients and I’ll just mix them all over medium heat.” That tactic doesn’t usually work when trying to bake a cake…

Why does this happen to me?! I’m not on drugs. I love food. But it hates me.

So after numerous chuckle meals I decided I would have to step it up.  I would have to find and marry a person who not only was courageous enough to taste my chuckle meals but who was also a brilliant cook in his own right so that at some point in our marriage we could have a delicious dinner that didn’t leave us with heartburn and indigestion simultaneously. 

And I found him! Andrew. And even though he tries to explain the physics of cooking to me (brain volume goes to mute) he loves me and lets me mess up as much as I want. And when I am willing or desperate he offers advice. 

Tonight we are having guests over – a phobia of mine – and this morning when we were getting ready for the day he asked what I had in mind for dinner tonight.  I said, “I’ll just think of something and whip it up.” 


Andrew gently said to me, “What about something like grilled chicken and stuffed peppers?”

Somehow I came away from that conversation thinking it was my idea. 

So the dream team will charge fearlessly into the unknown tonight. I will say a prayer for our unsuspecting guests and maybe if God smiles upon us. We will have a delicious meal – heartburn and indigestion free.


the dream team ready to eat...I mean serve.

the dream team ready to eat...I mean serve.


11 responses

  1. Haha! I so relate to this! My recent meals have mostly been pizza-like or taco-like because I’m not one for recipes as well. Have fun with your dinner party tonight — it will be faaaabulous because you and Andrew are faaaaabulous. And your pictures on this post = priceless :).

  2. You both are ridiculous and wonderful! I made stuffed peppers last night with left over fried rice and kabob bits with some cheese and an egg. Really surprisingly good. My husband doubted, he always does when I make something other than his usual favorites. But it was good. I hope yours turns at even better. 🙂

  3. When we first got married it was two weeks before my husband started his first job. Scott told me one night at after work that in engineering this a learning curve. He was told that for the first 3 years they don’t expect you to get it perfect all the time. I think the purpose is that they didn’t want people to fear failure and thus not try and think outside the box. So there was this freedom in that if he messed up, no biggie b/c they expected that. So he said, I think the same should be true with you. Try new things, experiment, it doesn’t have to turn out perfect. I felt such freedom with that.. freedom to experiment on recipes, go wild and crazy. One day I vividly remember serving this pork chop meal I read about in a magazine. It looked like matrix food. It was grey and totally disgusting looking. We both laughed about and still do years later… “well it looks better than those matrix pork chops”…. It’s over 3 years now and he still encourages me to try new things and think outside the box.

    Cute post.. .love the pics!!

  4. Girl, we ate spaghetti or tacos for 6 months every night (we switched on and off–even days, tacos, odd days, spaghetti). I’m super impressed that you already dream things up, though you were doing that when we cooked together. I think recipes are just ideas waiting to be expanded upon. Oh, and the dream team is too cute.

  5. hey val!! love your blog!! so, here’s a motto i use as my excuse for not following directions. “rules are for people who don’t know what they’re doing!” of course, i always think i know what i’m doing and then figure out afterward that perhaps i was wrong. i think maybe it’s an artistic occupational hazard. keep it up!!

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  9. i love “lifeatthecircus” advice! and also you might look for “How to Cook Without a Book” esp. for vegetable recipes… it’s written for the free-spirited, experimental type people (like me) who benefit from a few simple, key guidelines/ratios and then head off on their own cuisine adventure…

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