There is an unofficial rule in my family that everyone takes turns cooking dinner. The rule happens to be, for the most part, completely unenforced because since June I have only made dinner five times. Now, my parents and brother love to cook. They always prepare some sort of elaborately marinated, perfectly grilled, deliciously seasoned, slow cooked, beautiful dinner. And they enjoy doing it. I am a different story altogether. I hate to cook about as much as I love to eat, which is a lot. So it’s no surprise that my track record of family dinners is a little disappointing.
The first time I cooked dinner for my family, I made some VERY FANCY chicken. I dipped the chicken in a mixture of butter, crushed cornflakes, and powdered ranch dressing mix, and then baked it. HOLLA. It was a HIT.
So, when my turn came around again, about seven weeks later, I made the same thing since, as I always say, why reinvent the wheel or the delicious cornflake ranch chicken?
And once again, a HIT.
Five months later when I had to make a meal again, I was feeling slightly more adventurous because I had two successful dinners under my belt. So I decided to make this pasta with tomato and blue cheese sauce, because it sounded delicious and was rated “easy.” Things were going along swimmingly until it came time for the red pepper flakes.
Hello, nosedive to the south. The lid to the red pepper flakes? It looks like this...
However, in a fit of overwhelming enthusiam, I took the entire lid off without even realizing what I was doing. I used it like this.
And I gave three HEARTY, CONFIDENT shakes. Whoops. I tasted the sauce because seriously, how hot could some red pepper flakes really be?
The answer is VERY, VERY HOT. BURNING HOT. IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE DONE TO THE MEAL hot. After I got that answer I proceeded to make what was probably a rookie mistake, and poured in many, many cups of sugar in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to counteract ALL THE HOT.
I even added a can of premade tomato sauce, thinking maybe that would calm things down JUST A SMIDGE, but it didn’t.
The meal was truly inedible. Not only was it burning hot, but it also had a slightly gritty texture due to the abundant quantity of sugar. I basically served my family noodles with hot sauce and sand.
A few weeks ago it was my turn once again. And you know what they say, once bitten, and twice shy. So my dinner that night consisted of me VERY LOVINGLY heating up pulled barbecue beef that came from a tub in the freezer section at the food store, dumping store bought coleslaw and fruit salad into bowls, and putting chips in a basket. As we sat down to say grace, my mom announced, “Okay, let’s pray. We even have to thank God for this food.”
Well, at least this time the burn was just figurative.
Last night, my turn to cook came around for the fifth time in eight months. I was going to make some chicken. All I had to do was cut up some vegetables, lay them in the baking pan with the chicken, and sprinkle on a packet of seasoning, and bake it for an hour. It sounded easy, but thanks to my poor performance with the last "easy" meal I attempted to make, I was apprehensive.
First of all, it involved cutting an onion, which reminded me of my first onion slicing experience. It was about eight months ago, and I was in my apartment at school. I was making pierogies for dinner and decided I wanted some fried onions to go with them. Clearly I was brimming with culinary confidence and naivete. I took the onion out of the bag. Got out a nice, sharp knife. Pulled out a cutting board. Looked at all my supplies for a moment, just taking things in.
And then I texted my old roommate Heather. “Hey, how do I cut an onion?”
She walked me through it, my eyes stinging and tearing with every cut of the knife.
On Wednesday, in what may or may not have been a last minute effort to get out of cooking, I dramatically informed my parents that slicing onions makes me CRY AND CRY.
They didn’t even FAKE sympathy.
So last night, I cooked the chicken, and things went surprisingly well. I kept waiting for tragedy to strike, but that didn't seem like it was going to happen. After an hour of baking, I took the beautiful, golden brown, fragrant chicken out of the oven and served everyone with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I sat down and cut into the chicken.
It was raw. R.A.W. I'm not talking "Oh dear, I may see a tiny bit of pink" raw. I'm talking the chicken was STILL CLUCKING and could probably go for a lap or two around the barnyard raw.
Back in the oven it went. Unfortunately I had to go babysit, so I ate a re-heated version of the meal around 9:45 last night.
There may have been a few tears, but my story is that they were TOTALLY from the onions.
And as for the next time I have to cook dinner, which will likely be about June or so?
We're going to Sonic.