OK, it might not seem like a big accomplishment, but come on, raw chicken is gross. So of course I could never have cooked it—I couldn’t have even touched it. And it’s not just the chicken, even. Cutting a tomato also feels so disgusting to me. I grimace anytime I have to touch any wet, slimy, or gelatinous food.
Coming off a long and difficult week last week, I was lucky that a friend decided to take me grocery shopping and teach me how to cook a few GFCF meals. She cooks gluten-free meals for her family and is just one of those friendly, helpful people you wish the world had more of.
She made me touch the chicken. She cut (or cubed, or whatever—terminology is another annoying part about cooking to me) one chicken breast, then had me do a second. It was awful. I felt like my hand was glowing with salmonella germs. But I did it. She also showed me how to rip up and cook kale, which wasn’t awful to touch—but I, at least, thought was too awful to eat.
We cooked (fried? Sautéed?) the chicken breast with garlic, onion powder, and pepper, and she showed me exactly how to tell when it was done. Then we did much the same with ground beef, breaking it apart and seasoning it. Then she showed me how to cut a tomato—so I had almost everything prepared for tacos that night. The chicken we put in a container to save for the next night. It’d be so easy, she said, so simply heat it up, make some instant rice, and throw the two together with some frozen vegetables.
And was she ever right. The next night, it turned out, I had to pick up the kids from daycare late, and my husband worked even later, so I found myself in the kitchen alone an hour after we usually eat. The kids were hungry, pestering me for a snack, and, as usual, Sadie was pulling on my shirt to be picked up and the dog was jumping on my legs to be pet. Thank God I had cooked chicken ahead of time; my friend was right, making instant rice was super easy, and I felt good about being able to put together a good meal (not that the kids ate much of it, of course).
So my cooking “lesson” with my friend taught me three things: first, that touching raw chicken won’t kill me; second, that cooking meat doesn’t have to be that difficult; and third, that preparing the main part of a meal ahead of time is very helpful.
Unfortunately, the last one still isn’t as enlightening as it sounds. I took a day off of work to shop and make meals this week; I really can’t afford to keep doing that. Time is always my enemy.
When I was in college, I always told my boyfriend I wanted to learn to cook. I never did, of course. When I first married my husband, I told him I would learn to cook. When I got pregnant, I told myself I would learn to cook before I had to actually feed the kid real food. And now with no time … I wish I could go back in time and yell at my college self to actually learn something more applicable than commas and quotations.