Accept Who You Are
By Lorna Foreman
I’m not sure it’s possible, but I think I was born with the ‘hate-to-cook’ gene. Oh, I fully realize that it probably isn’t a scientific approach, but nevertheless, I certainly grew up with an aversion to domestic skills — of all kinds. Even my home economics teacher despaired at my ability to ever develop into a proper young 50s woman.
Being an only child who adored her father, I thought it was far more fun to learn carpentry skills and various other fix-it abilities. Unfortunately, the same 50s attitude stood in the way of my taking shop in high school. Looking back, I am sorry I did not at least try to help my mother.
When I graduated from high school and got a job, it was my absolute dream to save enough money and find my own place to live. I was not really prepared for life on my own and that’s when all the fun started. After all,I couldn’t eat out all the time and I got weary of deli take-out food. But, if nothing else, I was adventurous and without fear. I decided to celebrate my new apartment and invited a few friends I worked with to dinner. I was tired of eating out so much and decided I could do this.
Aha, I thought. I will treat them to a home cooked meal — the first in my new studio apartment. My mother’s excellent cooking gave me the idea to serve roast beef, roast potatoes, peas,Yorkshire pudding and apple pie. It couldn’t be that difficult, could it? I had watched my mother do a similar menu every Sunday for as long as I could remember.
I had learned from my dad, who worked for Canada Packers in Montreal, the best beef for roasting. Perfect. I asked my mother how long I should roast it, got her ‘no fail’ recipe for Yorkshire pudding as well as
her wonderful,flaky pastry recipe.I was all set — the beautiful roast, potatoes placed around it was put in the oven. I set the timer. Then came the Yorkshire pudding. At the same time, I put the peas on to cook. I had made the pastry the night before. All was well.
Now that should give you a hint of the disaster that was about to unfold.Yes, the roast was pretty good, the potatoes burnt, the ‘no fail’ pudding — a failure and unless you like green mush, then the peas just didn’t make the grade. I was embarrassed but my friends ate it all…true friends.The pie?Pastry was like cardboard.
I was embarrassed.After that I made a conscious decision to only date men who could cook. Sounds terribly superficial doesn’t it, but they were required to have other good qualities as well. It was not an easy decision to fulfil — remember this was the late 50s early 60s. Few men cooked in those days and certainly women were expected to. I dated a man for a few years who was a Cordon Bleu chef. He would give me a shopping list and he would do the cooking. He left me lots of leftovers and I filled the gaps with restaurant fare.That was a wonderful period of time but alas, it did not last.
Fast forward to 2005. My husband (who was an incredibly good cook) had died three years prior to that. I had coped over the years with a few tried and edible meals (meat balls, meat loaf, tuna casserole — all the easy things) but I did it with resentment.Ah! There’s the difference.
But help was on the way. I had a business partner. We planned workshops on making personal changes. My role was to add a more personal point of view, so I decided to use the concept and method on myself. I chose ‘how to learn to love cooking’.
Fifty-Five Plus Magazine • OTTAWA 42 • September 2016 Issue
Well it took about 2 months. I listed my goal and plotted the course to achieve it. Lo and behold it actually worked.
I can now say I really like cooking. Part of the change was being mindful of each step along the way. Ah! Mindfulness.
I now collect cooking magazines, tear recipes out of magazines and Google recipes. I have also included baking in this new ‘love’ and I am sure my mother is watching me and laughing her head off wherever she is. She was a fantastic baker and here I am doing the same. My carrot cake is fantastic (she says modestly).
It is interesting that it took so long to change my attitude because it really is just attitude. I really like eating so the kitchen is now my most used room. I guess I am proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. It only took 72 years.
Bon appetit. ■
Lorna Foreman is a self-described 50-plus writer, author and artist who lives in Cornwall.