19 May confessions of a mother who doesn’t cook
Can a cooking-avoidant parent become an enthusiastic cook? Bron Bates says…
It’s no secret that I don’t like to cook. From the stinky cheese scones I obediently baked in Year 7 Home Science (urgh), to the regular offerings of same-same pasta I give the kids, I’ve never been one to regularly provide delicious delights of my own making.
I think the nail in the coffin of my cooking days happened around 1997, the year my eldest son was born. I was vegetarian, his dad a meat eater, and my son a baby who needed pureed pumpkin, liver and the like. I found preparing three different meals every night (along with all the rest of the monotonous newborn duties) dispiriting. I gave up on vegetarianism and started buying organic baby food in a jar.
As the years went by, I’ve had a couple of random sparkling moments of cooking success.
The time we were invited to Christmas with some new friends and I wanted to impress them and so applied myself (and Mark) to the creation of a very gourmet salad that involved seafood, candied fruits and truffle oil. It was a hit. Sadly not to be repeated.I think the next year we brought left-overs.
Not one to let my lack of culinary prowess get in the way of my love of eating, I’ve developed a keen restaurant-going habit. One of my favourite ways to spend a day is to while it away at a cafe, preferably one with books. It helps that Max and Rose love eating out too. And I do enjoy poring over beautiful cookbooks, I just don’t like to use them.
I’ve always related to women who don’t cook. On a tour of author/illustrator May Gibbs’ home, I was satisfied to find that her kitchen was approximately the size of a wardrobe. A mere sink and cooker along a passageway to the larger living/art space/study inside.
Recently, I took a trip to NYC, and after eating out for two weeks straight I came back with a renewed appreciation of the home kitchen and it’s possibilities. I took another look at the glossy pictures in my recipe books of dishes like Bruschetta with Broad Beans and Zucchini and Cannellini Bean Lasagne and reconsidered.
I went out and bought ingredients and made a dish for dinner. Then I made another. On the second occasion, all the kids and Mark were home. I told everyone to wash their hands and sit down, giving each child a plate to carry out. It was a couple of types of meat, baked cauliflower, a salad and pasta.
Not at all fancy.
As I washed my own hands in the kitchen, I could hear whispering from the other room. When I went out, my family all applauded. Max declared it the best dinner he’d ever had, and I felt pretty pleased to be eating my meal too. The nutty florets, the crunch and zing of the cucumbers and garlic, and the juicy lamb cutlets marinated perfectly all tasted exactly as I’d hoped. It was like realising a vision. Cooking can be creative, I realised at last. And I love creating. It helped that I was literally applauded for my efforts, too.
Words by Bron Bates