I hate to cook. Cooking requires a certain level of patience which I don’t think I have ever acheived in the whole of my life. In order to make good food, I need lots of advanced notice and a very good recipe. I cannot abide measurements like “to taste” or “a pinch”, and improvisation is out of the question. I need rules and instructions. I also have great difficulty with planning meals so all the components are done at the same time.
This weekend Ian introduced me to a show called Easy Chinese: San Francisco; I loved it – unlike a lot of other cooking shows I enjoy, these recipes looked not only delicious, but completely manageable for a terrible cook like me. So Monday instead of doing the cooking as he usually does, Ian was my sous chef. I made fried rice and a dish called Three Cup Chicken with Garlic Spinach. It was really delicious – even the kids liked it. Stephen even had seconds of the spinach! Monday night I made breakfast for dinner – pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs; I even saved some extra pancake batter so I could make pancakes again later in the week. Yesterday I didn’t have to work too hard; Ian had already prepared some stuffed pork chops, so all I had to do was put them in the oven, make some mashed potatoes, and warm up some baked beans. Voila – instant dinner!
Today I decided to make pasta. I knew we had some mushrooms and onions left over from the fried rice on Monday, as well as some chicken in the freezer. We also had some leftover pasta sauces from the pasta Ian had made for lunch on Sunday, so I figured it would be a simple matter of throwing together some ingredients. This was my first mistake. Perhaps I should have been less ambitious and opted for macaroni and cheese instead.
I started by putting a pot of water on to boil, knowing that it would take a million years (give or take a few minutes) for the water to finally come to a boil, and during that time I could cook the onions, mushrooms and chicken. I put a little olive oil in the pan and threw in the onions. Then my son asked me a question which required me to look up the answer on my phone, which was plugged into the outlet in my room. Here is where I make my second mistake. I went to my room to get the phone, and completely forgot that I had just put some onions on the stove to cook. By the time I got back to the kitchen, the chopped onions were roughly the shape, color, and consistency of charcoal bricks. Oops.
So obiously I tossed the onions and started over. I cubed the chicken and pan-fried it in a little olive oil. When the chicken was starting to brown, I added the mushrooms, some salt, pepper, oregano, and tyme. It smelled delicious. Even my daughter wandered into the room at this point and said “that looks amazing; I can’t wait to eat it!” I patted myself on the back. This was my third mistake – I should not have allowed myself to think I was doing a good job. While the mushrooms and chicken were cooking, I started warming up the other sauce (a tomato cream sauce) and reached into the fridge for the leftover alfredo sauce which I had planned to add to the chicken. I saw the water had started to boil and thought to myself that the timing actually seemed to be working in my favor for a change. I added the pasta to the water, stirred it a little, and poured the alfredo sauce into the pan with the chicken and mushrooms.
And it was exactly at that moment, as the last of its contents poured into the pan, when I realized the container was not leftover alfredo sauce. It was pancake mix. Actually, it was not the worst thing I have ever tasted.
Of course I had to try it – I might have just been responsible for the next great culinary discovery. Obviously I wasn’t. But my dogs seemed to enjoy it anyway.