Okay. Here's the thing. I come from a long line of amazing cooks. Mimi's food is amazing -- she could seriously hand me a plate with sliced cheese and pickles out of a jar on it, and for some reason, it's just better than any other sliced cheese or pickles that I could find anywhere else. I'm not even going to talk about her real cooking, because it will make me too hungry for it. My mother's food is equally legendary and it's not like I took it for granted growing up, but I certainly miss it a lot when I'm away at school. And Shelby? I mean, it's just ridiculous. Shelby just knows things about cooking, about how things work in a kitchen. Truly, it's a gift.
One that I clearly do not have, I might add.
Now, I've come a long way from my cookie melt down the summer before my senior year. I no longer burst into tears at the sight of a burnt mess and choke out my fears that my future children will need counseling, due to the fact that I cannot bake them the cookies that they so clearly desire, thereby ruining their childhoods and shunting them off to their perfect Aunt Shelby so that their baking needs can be met. Nearly four years have passed, and I am pleased to say that I am now capable of baking a batch of cookies and apple pie.
And it's not like I can't take care of myself at school; I can cook. Kind of. At least, I have improved a lot over the past year or two -- I made these meatloaf things last year that Rachael Ray published and they were delicious. I make excellent stir-fry and I am the queen of anything Mexican [although as some people so generously point out, anyone can chop vegetables into salsa]. I'm not quite at the point where Shelby actually lets me help in the kitchen, but I can fumble through a recipe pretty convincingly.
But it is time for me to take the next step. I sauté my food as if my life depends on it: I'm ready for the next challenge. Besides, come October every year, I am in a constant state of craving chilli and pot roast, and I have no way of making it for myself. When I told Mimi this, she did the only logical thing.
She bought me a crockpot and a cookbook.
The possibilities seemed endless. I had instant fantasies about myself coming home after a long, cold day on campus to the aromatic seduction of something hot and delicious and ready to eat. Plus, the way that Mimi talked about it, the crockpot seemed like a magical cauldron for stone soup -- all I had to do was throw things in it and walk away. Even I can do that, right?
I guess I should double check to make sure I'm throwing the right things in, though, because today I set out on a brand new adventure. I decided that, being a blustery fall day, I needed that chilli that I've been craving for weeks. Now, Jewels makes the best chilli in the world [and no, I am not falling prey to my superlative overdose at the moment... I am extremely serious]. I called her, got her recipe, did the grocery shopping, and woke up this morning craving a masterpiece of my own. When I went to brown the meat, however, I realized that I am the dumbest person in the world; I didn't get ground beef. I got something else that looked equally brainy and intestiney, but much less crumbly.
Here's my question: how can someone mess that up? I mean, who can’t differentiate between the stuff of hamburgers and tacos and… I don’t know, something else? I know it isn’t really that big of a deal; after a few frantic texts to my sister and mother, I dealt with the situation. It just meant that I chopped a little more than would have been otherwise necessary, which was fine. If nothing else, my problem solving skills have skyrocketed due to this new cooking situation. And in the end, my chilli? Oh my gosh, soooo good. My mother would have been proud. But still. It’s annoying to make such basic mistakes.
Oh well. As Julie says, she's been married twenty-five years -- she's supposed to know all of the things that I don't, and once I've been married for that long, maybe I'll have some more stuff figured out. I'm sure she's right, but that doesn't really comfort me about next week...see, I bought this pot roast... but I'm sure it will all be fine, as long as I warn the fire department in advance, right?