COOKING FOR DUMMIES

Despite being fully moved into my apartment for three months now, I just realized yesterday that I’ve only used my oven twice, my stove three times, and my microwave once. Look, some people are meant to cook themselves dinner every night. And some people are meant to rummage through their cabinets and/or refrigerator playing a game of what-can-I-snack-on-and-call-it-dinner (currently undefeated).

This runs in the family (sorry, Mom). In preschool, I politely outlined in a class assignment just how (un)gifted our family was in the kitchen. We were asked to share a family recipe with the class, in which I recited our favorite dish:

Step 1: Cook the vegetables.

Step 2: Burn the vegetables.

Step 3: Eat them anyway.

If there was one thing I wasn’t, it was a liar.

I personally didn’t attempt using kitchen appliances much, though, so who was I to throw the first stone. When I did, 1 in 4 times something went awry.

When I was 9, I put a bag of popcorn in the microwave. I didn’t realize that when I pressed 3 that meant three minutes and when I pressed 3-0-0 that meant three hours, so I pressed the latter. That was not only the longest snack I’ve ever had to wait for but that was also the day I learned how to call 9-1-1. It didn’t take the full three hours for the microwave to catch on fire and for the whole first floor of our house to fill with smoke.

When I was 14, I had to bake brownies with two of my friends for a school-wide bake sale. They ended up paying us not to sell our brownies when we brought a tray full of oily brownies, because apparently measurements are not a part of the recipe you can play by ear.

In college I grew up in a lot of ways, culinary skills not being one of them.

The freedom of having access to a kitchen I could use at any time was both liberating and dangerous. But the one thing it wasn’t was helpful or conducive to learning to cook, bake, or even reheat.

I did, however, learn some valuable lessons my senior year. A mimosa is not a meal. And placing a piece of cheese on bread and heating it up in the microwave will never taste as satisfying as real grilled cheese. And just because there’s a buy-one-get-one sale on a 1-lb bag of ziti pasta, doesn’t mean you should cook both bags at once, especially if all you own is a medium-sized pot. And adding 1 cup of flour and two tablespoons of cheese instead of 1 cup of cheese and two tablespoons of flour would not result in queso but in an uncooked cheesy bread that should never be dipped into with a chip (no matter how hungry you are).

You’ll be proud to hear, I don’t even need an oven or a stove to ruin a meal.

A few weeks ago, I went to my kitchen, opened my refrigerator, and saw the two avocados I had bought a week ago and was waiting (as) patiently (as possible) for them to ripen. I squeezed them. Finally, I was going to get to make guacamole with these beautiful avocados.

To give you a full picture of the scene, I was so focused on these avocados, I didn’t even turn a light on in the kitchen. I’m like an 8 out of 10 on the hungry scale, so I’m working hastily.

I use a knife to cut the avocado in half and this knife is so top-notch I didn’t notice that I had sliced right through my pointer finger in the process. The moment I see blood, I immediately release a sound oohwhoaaohh and start sliding down the nearest wall. As soon as I hit the ground I realize I’ve just simulated my own faint. I’m not afraid of seeing blood and I haven’t lost nearly enough to be dropping in and out of consciousness.

I chuck the avocado at the ground, because betrayal.

I stand up, and reach for my phone contemplating whether I should tweet about this first or call my mom, but ultimately I knew there would be time for crafting a witty 140-characters later.

What do I decide to say first? “Mom, there’s blood everywhere.” Not true. “I sliced through my finger in an avocado accident. It won’t stop bleeding.” It just started. “I’m going to head to the hospital.” I had been working from home so I then added, “I’m going to have to email [BOSS] and let them know what happened.

But my mom knows me. She instructed me to send no such emails and to, if anything, seek an urgent care facility. But to wait it out to see if it will stop bleeding on its own. I told her “But I don’t want to lose too much blood.” I’m not a doctor, but retrospectively, that was highly unlikely and/or impossible.

Eventually the bleeding stopped, I wore a band-aid for a week and it slowly healed leaving behind a scar reminding me that there’s a cost to “cooking” hungry.

All I wanted was guacamole.

On that note, who wants to come over for dinner tonight?