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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Can a No-cook Cook Teach Two Cooks to Cook, if the No-cook Cook can't Cook?

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved in order to be adopted by Betty Crocker

Over the past several years, we have all determined that I can’t cook.  There are numerous fire reports, hospital visits, and petrified casseroles posing as yard art to attest to that fact. 

Now the big question is (see title of this piece) can cooking be taught or is it hereditary?  It is the old nature versus nurture, heredity versus environment debate.  I hold to the theory that good cooking is hereditary.  My mother cannot cook, my grandmother could not cook, and neither can I…hereditary. 

To further support my theory, I offer proof from the adopted seven-year-old and tween-ager.  Both children entered the Spoon and Fork Cooking Contest at our local library.  Why, you say, enter children in a cooking contest when the only reference point they have for good food is school cafeteria food?  To support my theory.

The children each entered the appetizer and salad category for their age group.  The seven-year-old entered Hot Wheels, a cream cheese, picante sauce, pecan, jalapeno mixture rolled up in a flour tortilla, cut into chunks, and an olive stuck in the center, run through with a toothpick.  It’s more of an assembly thing than a cooking thing, but this was his first time out.

The Tween-ager found a recipe for Sunflower Salad made with ramen noodles (cooked), tomatoes, onion, cabbage, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, with a dressing of sunflower oil, sugar, bacon bits, and vinegar.  Assemble, toss, refrigerate.

Ok, I was smart enough to buy two of everything in case, you know, I helped her, whom I did, and we had to do it again, which she did.  In all fairness, it was an honest mistake anybody could have made.  I store my sugar and salt in separate clear plastic canisters and maybe storing them side by side isn’t a good thing and probably those who know how to cook would never do that, and yes, labeling might have been a good idea, but I didn’t.  So the first salad, I like to call it the “practice salad”, was a bit off and a whole lot saltier than it was supposed to be.  In my defense, salt and sugar are both granulated, white, and ok, I was in a hurry and gave her the wrong canister.

As a result, I was banished from the kitchen.  The tween-ager finished the second salad on her own using sugar and without me handing her anything.

I was limited to setting “the stage” for their dishes, something I can do. For the Hot Wheels appetizer, I cut out a racing track from black poster board and hot glued it around the rim of the black serving platter.  Then I hot glued two Hot Wheel racing cars to the track.  I typed the recipe onto card stock and glued two plastic racing flags on to that. Hot Wheels was ready for competition.

The Sunflower Salad needed a silk sunflower in a recycled Starbuck’s mocha frappe bottle.  Her recipe was mounted onto green, yellow, and red plaid wrapping paper backed by card stock and leaned against the silk flower arrangement.  A sunflower cutout was used as a placemat for the salad bowl.  I found a flower looking plastic bowl at Dollar Tree.  I added water to that and froze it.  The salad was placed in a taller bowl and set inside the plastic bowl.  Her salad was supposed to be kept cold.

If the children were influenced by environment, then I felt the judges would need something attractive and interesting to look at while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.  Fortunately my theory held.  My adopted children, because they are adopted, could not inherit my bad cooking gene and no paramedics were summoned to the contest.

Oh, and yes, both children took first place!  Somewhere in their family tree is a branch for Julia Childs, Paula Deen, and Emeril Lagasse.


Sharon said...

Hooray for you! The pictures add some zing to the story. Beautiful job on the "staging." Hey, loved that reference to cafeteria food.

Jody Worsham said...

Thanks, Sharon. Kids actually prefer cafeteria food to my cooking.