cooking confessions

Do you know that the first turkey I baked, I didn’t know they stuffed both ends with, well, stuff? I cleaned out that front cavity meticulously, salted and seasoned the bird to perfection, and after four hours, pulled out a plastic bag full of goop from its rear end. I didn’t know if it was even safe to eat. I have never tried to be Martha Stewart or Paula Dean, but unfortunately my immediate family had to endure this lack of culinary expertise.

I have other stories as well. In our first apartment, we had an electric stove and oven all built in one unit. It had a handy storage drawer underneath where I kept all the extra pans and for lack of a fit, my wooden rolling pin. It never occurred to me that we didn’t have a broiler. One day, I opened the bottom drawer to get out a cookie sheet, and noticed my wooden rolling pin with a black burnt stripe down the length of it. Truly, it’s a wonder we didn’t have a full-blown fire. I guess the only thing that saved me was how rarely I cooked.

The other thing I can think of that early marriage taught me was that not all pork is cured. The first time I made pork chops I thought they were like bacon, since my mother used salt so liberally on them. It was some surprise when I took the first bite and realized it wasn’t the same salty taste like ham or bacon. Who knew these secrets? I realize most people would not admit to this kind of ignorance, but few of life’s lessons come without a little field trip. For me, learning to cook has been no exception.

My family would tell you that I’m a better-than-average cook, but my darkest secret is I never have mastered the fine art of Jello. I avoid it like the plague. Years ago, I tried the recipe for Jello Jigglers. *Notice there is no URL link to this jewel.I thought the kids would think I was the best mom. Nope. Not even with blue Jello. There are some things I simply was not meant to master and Jello is at the top of the list. Fortunately, it only comes into question once or twice a year. So, this year our table will be filled with every traditional delicacy I can concoct, but never, ever—Jello.