When Cooks Can't - Updated - Stupid Simple Cooking Blog at Allrecipes.com - 280153

Stupid Simple Cooking

When Cooks Can't - Updated 
Jul. 22, 2012 10:46 pm 
Updated: Jul. 29, 2012 5:23 pm
I promised that I'd tell you how to get other people to cook for you. Here's how it's done. First, you're going to need a boat. Although any nice set of stairs will do the trick. But really, a boat is best. 

About a month ago we had our boat moved from the Great White North (Puget Sound) down here to Tampa. By the way, her name is Tuition and for exactly the reason you think. On the day she arrived, Steve and I went to the marina, took delivery, cleaned all the nasty highway gunk off the exterior, then hopped aboard as she was lowered into the water. A quick ride around to her new slip and we called it a day. The next day, with Mom, we set about the serious clean-up, making sure all systems were operating properly, and everything was still properly stowed. The sort of things you do when you haven't seen your boat in 18 months. As we were packing up our cleaning supplies, I made one final check below (part of my duties as first mate) to make sure we were on shore power and everything belowdecks was buttoned up and secure. 

Have I mentioned before what a komplete klutz I am? Well, I should have. I'm really klutzy, like you wouldn't believe. I walk into walls and trip over furniture in my own home. I sport bruises of uncertain origin. In fact, I'm a legend in our family, far surpassing anyone else. Normally, this is not really dangerous. However, when exported to a boat, my household mishaps become cause for concern. You see, I ACT as though I'm quite agile on the boat, scampering here and there like a trained sea monkey, leaping from the boat to the dock with mooring line in hand as we bring her home, and so on. So it was on this day....

As I said, I was making one last check of the salon, and with my usual sea monkey aplomb, I flew down the stairs. But this time, my right foot slipped off the bottom tread and I landed with both feet flat on the deck. Hard. My knees immediately signaled that something was amiss. They did this by buckling completely while sending frantic pain signals to my brain. Really excruciating pain. Steve heard my screams (couldn't miss them, being just a few feet away) and came flying down the ladder to the rescue. Both knees were swelling, the agony was unabating, and it only helped marginally when he stacked life jackets under my legs. I always knew the coast guard made us keep them for a darn good reason. Steve all but carried me to the car, which cannot have been good for his sciatica.

Flashing forward to later that evening, we find me lying on the sofa, unable to walk, even with the aid of the crutches provided by the friendly folk at our local urgent care clinic. Their verdict? "You're going to need surgery." Side note - office chairs with wheels are a most excellent substitute for a wheelchair. 

For the next 2 weeks Mom and Steve did all the cooking, which was howlingly funny to our son, because he knows I just can't not meddle when others are cooking. Knowing that Steve doesn't cook (although he'll happily grill whatever I hand him) and Mom hasn't in years, I tried to keep it simple, suggesting only a generalized main dish like grilled chicken, or sautéed fish, something easy. I thought I'd do them a favor and let them choose the rubs, marinades, and the sides. This was a mistake. In fact, my whole keep it simple plan was a mistake. What I should have done was give them my usual meal plans and my iPad so they could follow my recipes. Or perhaps directions to Taco Bell. I have now learned, the hard way, what a bad idea it is to be the lone cook in a home. It's even worse if you're just the tiniest bit compulsive about cooking and kitchens. Not that I am, I'm just saying.

We had a lot of food that was sort of somewhat ok, but missing some vital ingredient. They gave it their best and I never said a word, not even when I could get around on my crutches and saw how they'd loaded the dishwasher (you don't want to know). Well, there was the time when I asked them what sweetener they'd used in the teriyaki chicken. I got blank stares. They hadn't. Ah, well, it was still edible, as was everything they made for me. It was just... different. In an odd way. In a not-quite-there way. So although it's possible to get other people to cook for you, I can't really recommend it. If you cook, cook. Let that be your thing and get over the desire to have someone else do it from time to time. That's what restaurants are for. Wanting more can only lead to frustration for you and pleas from your family to get better soon.

On the plus side, Mom is learning that holding the onion in your hand and hacking away with a dull paring knife is not the best way to dice one. That was hardest of all for me, catching the occasional glimpse as she chopped something. Seriously, the woman does NOT believe in large, SHARP knives and cutting boards. I now know why all her knives were dull, and why she had 6 paring knives. We're working on it.  

As for my knees, they no longer resemble beach balls, I'm crutch-free and back in the kitchen, feeling mostly normal, if you don't count the constant ache. I had MRIs done on them last week, with a follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon set for for early August. His clerk called me Friday and said they wanted to see me this coming Tuesday instead. It's possible he'll tell me that my knees are healing on their own, but Steve doesn't think so. In his experience, doctors never move an appointment up because they just can't wait to share good news with you. But then, he's been a little down lately, as our boat is sitting, lonely, in it's slip. He's feeling pessimistic over the thought of another month or more with me in dry dock. Tuition is not a one-man boat and Steve wants his line-handling sea monkey back. 

UPDATE - Well, it's Tuesday and I saw the surgeon this morning. The news was not all bad. I likely won't need surgery, but I do have a plate (horizontal) fracture in my right tibia, along with some cartilage damage. The break will heal, the cartilage not so much. In the meantime, I've been ordered to resume using a cane or crutch, which I hate, because I don't need one to walk and feel like an idiot using them. I'm to avoid extended standing or walking, keep weight off of it, yada yada. He wouldn't budge, even when I showed him that I can walk normally. He'll see me again in a few weeks to assess my progress. But really, I LOATHE the cane and crutch. So that's a big yuck for me. But no surgery is good, and I'll do my best to follow his orders. That means no water park for me tomorrow, bummer. He did say I could go back on the boat, but no line handling. Steve says it won't be a problem, he'll (finally) teach me to bring her into her slip. 
Jul. 23, 2012 8:18 am
Sorry to hear about your knees Duff, that sounds terrible. I'm off work today to see the doc about a completely plugged ear, which is a brand new malady for me. I would rather have the ear than the knees though. Best of luck in healing and dining with good humour firmly in hand!
Jul. 25, 2012 6:45 am
Ouch!! Feel better soon.
Jul. 27, 2012 11:53 am
As one who fell and injured just on knee eventually requiring a total knee replacement, you have my deepest sympathy. The pain must have been incredible to have both knees injured. I hope you can progress to your prior first mate tasks, although you may learn to love being "captain", Our bodies are not what they used to be, I found a huge bald patch over my left ear this week, and my hair is very short so it shows, i have concocted a somewhat weird one sided french pixie style to cover it. Vive la France. RAedwulf, hope your ear is okay, my 9 y.o.grandson had a foreign body in his ear, had to take to a specialist to get it out, it was a unpopped corn kernel. Dr. asked me why I did not just stick his head in the microwave, I told him I tried but Icouldn't get the door to slam shut.
Jul. 29, 2012 5:22 pm
Thanks, Magnolia! If it would just stop ACHING all the time I'd feel great. :)
Jul. 29, 2012 5:23 pm
cg- LMAO! Love that story, thanks. :)
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About Me
I'm a young retiree, happily settling into the Florida lifestyle with my husband, Steve, a retired Naval officer. After 10 years of living on opposite coasts, we're now 2 minutes from our son and his family, including our 4 grandsons, ages 3-11. We love going to their soccer and football games, and they get really cranky if they don't get to see Nana and Papa every week. Bliss! Since moving here in January 2011, we've really embraced the lighter side of life, from cooking to cleanup. That means grilling, of course, and Steve has taken to it with a vengeance. I've risen to the challenge by thinking of new things to grill (new for us, anyway) and new ways to do it. We're having a ball. In May 2011 I was diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance. Bummer. But I'm making the best of it, cooking so much more from scratch than ever before, and loving the tastes and textures of this fresher way of cooking. Allrecipes is my homepage!
My favorite things to cook
All-day meat sauce for pasta. No, seriously! There's just something so satisfying and visceral about it. Maybe it's the aroma filling my home. Maybe it's the tinkering. You know; taste, add a pinch of this, a dash of that. Have some wine. Repeat. I think it's the purest expression of love from a cook. I like to invite others to taste and make suggestions. Of course, there's no recipe for this at all! It's just a labor of love, and the slow, easy pace is like catnip, enticing guests to come join in and linger in the kitchen. Heaven! UPDATE: There IS a recipe for this now; Mock Bolognese Sauce, in my Recipe Box. Take a peek.
My favorite family cooking traditions
We used to have many, all centered around Thanksgiving. 2 kinds of cranberry sauce; one homemade, the other slices from a can. Yes, I know, but my mother thinks it's the bomb. Green bean casserole, always from cans. Aunt Shirley's extra-fluffy mashed potatoes. Sadly, most of my mother's sibs are gone now, but I'm making new traditions with my son, who is one fearless cook! We've finally celebrated a holiday season that doesn't include a plane trip, enjoying our Florida weather so much that we skipped the formal dinner in favor of a pool party, complete with ribs, potato salad and baked beans. We may have started a new tradition of our own.
My cooking triumphs
Chicken Tacos, making it up as I went. Turned out so good, so perfectly seasoned, I had to write it down so I could do it again. Simple? You bet! Lame, for sure, but that's the dish that taught me to just 'go for it!' and helped me shed my fears of working without a net (recipe). I've had many successes since then, but that one dish will always be my reminder that this isn't rocket science, it's cooking! The worst thing that can happen if I screw up completely is that we go out for dinner, and that's not so bad!
My cooking tragedies
Oh, they are legion. But as with my triumphs, one stands alone. Whipped cream! The very first time I made it I was a young bride, eager to impress my groom. It's cream and sugar, what could go wrong? Plenty, as I found out. First, it's a bad idea to turn your hand mixer to HIGH and plunge it into a bowl of cream. Take my word for it. After I washed down the walls and took a shower, I opened another carton of cream and did better. For a minute or two. Very soon I found myself calling my mother to ask what these little yellow things in my whipped cream were. "Butter," she replied, then explained to me the mechanics of churning butter. We didn't have freshly whipped cream that night, but the next morning we had plenty of sweet butter for our biscuits (from a can!). My mother and I both love to share this tale, as almost every bride has a similar story to tell, of tragedy and mother's love. It's humbling and comforting at the same time.
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