I am deathly afraid of cooking-
Let me rephrase that.. I WAS deathly afraid of cooking, I think after this weekend I am only mildly terrified.
After a week or two of feeling kind of blah (lethargic and naseous), and then having my gluten sensitivities rear their ugly heads (hello 10 trips to the bathroom, and awesome stomach cramps) I decided that it was time to put down the twinkies. This turns out to have been a very timely decision on my part giving the recent demise of the Hostess favorite. But in all seriousness, I decided to get rid of the junk food in favor of fresh, whole, ingredients, like I always said I would.
The problem was.. what was this mystery food I was going to prepare? Mr. Wright really doesn’t like meat, and we are trying to cut out things like gluten and processed sugars. Then it hit me… SOUP! We LOVE soup! As a matter of fact, when we travel to my hometown near Boston, our favorite place to eat is this little lunch franchise called Au Bon Pain where they have about 8 soups to choose from every day. Mr. Wright likes tomato vegetable soups, while I prefer the heartier creamier ones. Also, Mr. Wright doesn’t eat pork, and so the delicious bacon bits often found in potato and corn chowders would not be an option.
But that didn’t stop this Mom! I gathered some of my favorite cookbooks and began furiously searching for a soup to make.It had to be something healthy but also filling and not too spicy. I found so many different ones that I wanted to try (It also didn’t help that I was starving at the time) that I made a decision that would change my life forever.
I WOULD MAKE THEM ALL.
6 soups in total with dozens of ingredients, all of them fresh (save a few cans of pureed tomatoes and pumpkin) Some required the stove, others my newly acquired crock pot (Thanks Mom and Dad W!) and all of them required something that literally sends shivers down my spine. I had to cut vegetables.
Now before you make fun of me, Reader: Please try to be sensitive to the fact that cutting vegetables is not easy for a person who has never really done it; or rather hasn’t done it very much. I can’t tell you how many times the onion I was cutting would suddenly collapse into a million different pieces before I got those pieces small enough to place into my recipe. And knife skills? Please, you might as well be asking me to sword fight with one of the Three Musketeers! As many times as Mr. Wright tries to show me, I can not grasp the concept of leaving the tip of the blade on the cutting surface. Remind me again why I can’t just buy the stuff pre-chopped?
So anyway, I made my list of ingredients, making sure to combine them for the master list and off we went to the store. We spent about 75$ on ingredients which included 5$ in freezer bags cause I planned to make enough of this stuff for the apocalypse. I figured this would be so much fun because Mr. Wright would be there to help me.
We would put on some relaxing music, I’d neatly arrange the dishes and prep bowls while he happily chopped up all the vegetables and deposited them into their respective spots. We’d dance around and laugh and Tiny would sit calmly in her seat while all four burners bubbled with pots of sweet smelling aromatics. It would be glorious.
Then we got home, and Mr. Wright informed me that he had to work on homework and I would be on my own. ON.MY.OWN.
As I stood there in the kitchen surrounded by bags of fresh vegetables, I started to panic. How the Heffalump am I going to pull this off? I have NO idea what I am doing, and these vegetables aren’t going to cut themselves???
Then a brave little voice inside me said, “You can do this. You can SO do this…” and I decided to listen to that voice. That voice was right. I COULD do this.
I opened the first cook book and scanned the ingredients list: Pumpkin Pear Ginger Soup
Onions, Carrots, Pumpkins, Pears.. the recipe read like the vegetable cutting Olympics. I pulled out another book and read about how to cut an onion.
Disclosure: I am NOT a visual person. Looking at a picture of something does NOT tell me how to do it. This goes especially for those workout routines in beauty magazines, I never use the correct leg or step with the right foot, it just isn’t how I learn things.
So this onion cutting picture is sooo not helping me. After chopping onion #3 into a million little pieces I bite the bullet and ask Mr. Wright for help. He comes into the kitchen and gently shows me how to cut this evil onion. It takes him mere seconds to dice the offending veggie. While when I tried to do it, I kept cutting in the wrong places, causing the onion to collapse and the pieces to fall messily all over the cutting board where no amount of mashing it back together will make it less than impossible to cut. The only hope at that point is to chop mercilessly in every direction until you are somewhat satisfied with your progress. There are other vegetables to cut though, so I leave the onion and carry on…
Surprisingly, (if only to me), the more I do this…cutting, the easier it gets. By the 4th soup, I am happily chopping onions with the vigor and confidence of Julia Child herself, (okay, so maybe not that confident, but Mr. Wright reminded me of that scene in Being Julia when she is chopping onions, so that was the analogy that came to mind:) The point is, it is getting easier.
I ended up making 7 soups this weekend, and with the exception of Mr. Wright coming into the kitchen to season them (because I have a cold and my sense of taste is off) I did it ALL BY MYSELF. For me this is a huge feat. I made something healthy and inexpensive and I made a WHOLE lot of it. When I was done, I had 13 freezer bags of soup and some fresh in the fridge for the week. I felt like a super hero! SOUP-ER Woman! There is no limit to what I can do!
So maybe that is a little extreme, but seriously, I wish I could convey in words what a sense of accomplishment this was for me. You always here people say the more you do something the better you get at it or the easier it is, but I saw it with my own eyes!
Mr. Wright read a book called, “Outliers,” by Malcom Gladwell. In it, this guy talks about how it takes about 10,000 hours for a person to become an expert at something. After this weekend that makes TOTAL sense! The more I cook, the better I will become, and then I can try harder things because things like cutting onions will come so naturally to me! There really is NO LIMIT to what I can do!
I find myself wondering if my own mother had ah-ha moments like this when she was my age? It is so different to live the life of a Mom and know that your own mom had similar experiences as a new parent… but more on that later…
For now, I have a mountain of dishes to attend to before I pass out for the night. Soup-er Bowl 2012 has come to a close, and I am exhausted!!! Mission Accomplished:)