Ah yes, kitchen illiterate. If there wasn’t two better words to describe life after college. With her typical charm, wit and grace, Megan Atkinson has hit the crock-pot right on the head with this guest post. So it is with Groan Up pride I present to you Megan Atkinson – Kitchen Illiterate.
Picture via Creative Commons, Manuel on Flickr
Growing Up Kitchen Illiterate
My mom never let me even use the microwave until I was old enough to drive a car. This was, in part, due to the fact that I was an absent-minded and easily distracted child. The other cause of her protectionist ways was my innate ability to injure myself and/or others by simply existing. I was a klutz. So much so that when my mom found a book titled “Megan the Klutz” she not only bought it for me – she took it to work and all of our social events to show everyone for a good laugh. I guess I don’t blame her for fearing that her house would burn down if I was given the opportunity to attempt making spaghetti.
Either way, growing into this adult realm of responsibility for oneself has been tough as a kitchen-illiterate. Years of take-out, drive-throughs, and delivered deliciousness has added on a few more than few pounds. For those who experienced the “Freshman 15”, this is a familiar concept. Unfortunately for me, the Freshman 15 grew into a beast I’d rather not give a name or number. I decided recently, at 27 years old, that I had to teach myself to cook – or the likelihood of me marrying Jason Bateman was going to keep plummeting.
Now, over the last few years of singledom, I’ve managed to concoct killer chili, an amazing meatloaf, and some stellar pot-luck style side dishes. But it came time that I forge a full, healthy meal. I spend anywhere from 10-20 bucks a week on Chicken Shawarma from my favorite Lebanese restaurant in town so I decided to kill two birds with one stone: cooking AND fiscal responsibility. Watch out, now!
Thank the Heavens for Modern Technology
With my Googled recipe in hand, I headed to the grocery store. It took me close to 20 minutes just to locate the spice aisle alone and another half-hour to fill my cart. Seriously – who has even heard of ground ginger or has a need for white wine vinegar? Hamburger Helper only calls for milk and occasionally butter. Anyway, I got all my ingredients and headed home. I put my new collection of herbs and spices in my “spice cabinet” which, before today, consisted of asea salt grinder and garlic powder.
Now, I don’t know about other new-to-cooking adventurers, but cooking is one messy fiasco for me. I threw together the marinade for my chicken in such a manner that resulted in paprika on the side of my fridge, oregano leaves between my toes, and at least 17 dirty dishes and utensils. Being a neat and tidy cooker is way down on my list of priorities right now but I’m considering boosting it up a notch.
“Crush 8 cloves of garlic,” the recipe instructed. At the grocery, I had no idea if a clove was the entire bulbous creature or just one of the smaller sections of it. Thanks to Wikipedia, once I got home, I can proudly say I’ve stockpiled enough garlic to live through both a vampire uprising as well as the zombie apocalypse. Now for the crushing part – enter: the beloved YouTube. I went to my fridge-top cook book (read: iPad) and searched for a video on how to crush garlic. YouTube informed me that I had been using my garlic press backwards for the past 4 years. (Note: The press was a gift – I’d have assumed it was a medieval torture device if left to my own deductions.) After viewing a couple YouTube videos though, I was able to effectively mush up 8 cloves of garlic into my amazing Shawarma marinade.
Garlic Ain’t Got Nothin’ on This Groan Up
I feel like a real, live Groan Up now. How I survived 9 years on my own without the ability to cook real food, I will have no idea – but now I can crush garlic, marinade chicken, and at least attempt to eat healthy and cost-effectively. No thanks to mom, that is. She’ll definitely hear about this as soon as I can stomach having my hands within 6 inches of my face to make a phone call. By the way, any Groan Ups out there know how to get garlic smell off of your fingers without scrubbing off 6 layers of skin? I’d love to hear your wisdom.
Dear parents everywhere: Please, no matter how clumsy or distracted your children are, please teach them how to cook. Otherwise, you’ll find them, at 27 years old, sending Mother’s Day cards to YouTube with gratitude for showing them they’ve been using their garlic crusher wrong for 4 years. Chubby and cooking-deficient is not the easiest path into adulthood so please make it easier on them and at least teach them the basics.
Megan Atkinson aka “Madam Energy” is an energy efficiency consultant by day – energy industry and career blogger after dark at the Energy Careerist. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of tenacity, innovation, and a great glass of wine. You can find her rocking Twitter at @EnergyCareerist.
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