Kitchen bitchin



Now that we’ve moved to a somewhat bigger house-with cupboards for pots and pans, counter space for ingredients, and a garbage disposal and dishwasher to assist with clean up-I’m running out of excuses not to cook.

Back at the old shack, I used to pretend we were camping, which made the spiders and the dirt more palatable, and my family’s regular diet of takeout burritos and Costco chicken almost justifiable. After all, we were roughing it.

But now that I’ve rescued 300 wedding guests worth of kitchen appliances, cookware, and gadgets from storage, and miraculously found homes for them in our new place, I can no longer plead “unsuitable conditions for food preparation” as a reason not to cook.

I need a new excuse.

See, I’ve got a theory: the cooking gene skips a generation. My mom is an awesome cook. If you ask my son, even her toast is more “dee-licious” than mine. Therefore I was destined to suck in the kitchen.

It’s my Grandma Sylvia’s fault. She was such a bad cook that, according to family legend, she would regularly throw away entire dinners she had ready on the table when my Grandpa came home from work, took one look at the meal, and suggested they go out to eat.

So my mom developed her culinary gifts, at least in part, as a defense against her own mother’s scorched casseroles and burnt briskets. And I never learned to do much in the kitchen because my mom had it under control, and then some.

I am hoping that my kitchen incompetence will give Koss an epicurean incentive. Something good has got to come out of my gastronomic ineptitude-other than a goldmine’s worth of business for Giovanni’s Pizza, that is.

I guess it’s a good sign that Koss is obsessed with the Food Network shows, although most of his favorites seem to involve dangerously fast chopping, strange facts about food, and lighting pyrotechnic cakes on fire, rather than learning any recipes that could be created in our kitchen.

My old kitchen endured a few pyrotechnics-and I don’t mean campfires-but the Food Network will not be filming anything here, unless it’s a comedy.

Despite the scorch marks on my ceiling, I just can’t get all that fired up about cooking. I’ve always been this way. My husband isn’t much help either. He’s fine on the barbecue, as long as there’s only one thing to cook at a time. But it took him six years to master baked potatoes.

Even in our early married days, when we had a nice, big, well-stocked kitchen, and a lot more time on our hands, the most useful “recipe card” we had was the phone numbers of all the local takeout places.

On the plus side, my husband knows I cook like Stevie Wonder. One of my best recipes is to make something awful, have him make even the slightest negative remark-“is this supposed to be the color of veins?”-burst into tears, and voila! No cooking for at least a month.

I wonder if I could send in that strategy to respond to the email I just got titled, “Yippee, another chain recipe swap?”

Yippee indeed.

Not only am I now equipped with pots, pans, and casserole dishes in the new place, but when my neighbor came over to introduce herself, she offered: “You’ll love this neighborhood. We do a potluck every week during Monday Night Football season.”

Oh boy, another cooking opportunity.

I’ll bring the cocktails.

When Leslie’s not slaving away in the kitchen, she can be reached at email . Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on January 30, 2009.

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