The following post was first posted by me at .


A few years ago my wife had some serious health problems and I took over the household duties, which included doing the cooking. Other than desecrating a hamburger once in awhile I pretty much let my wife handle the cooking for the previous forty years of our married life. Learning to cook has been one of my life’s most daunting learning experiences.

The first thing I learned about cooking is that you are pretty much committed to eating your mistakes. This means munching on burned meat, mushy overcooked veggies, and the remnants of that omelet that you tried to flip like the chef on television. And therein is one of the main problems of learning how to cook. Those know-it-all chef’s on television don’t live in the real word. Alton Brown has no idea what it is to try to cook on a limited budget funded by a small retirement income. Rachel Ray would quickly loose her plasticized smile trying to cook on a thirty year old Kenmore range that has the temperamental controls of a woman in the middle of menopause. The only “Bams” Emeril would hear are me slamming a pan into the kitchen sink when I forgot a main ingredient in a recipe and the result was chicken cacciatore that tasted like the chicken got run over by a semi as it crossed the road.

This Sunday’s dinner is what started this discourse. I made pan-seared sirloin steaks, duchess potatoes, and curried peas. The steaks and the store bought rolls were the only edible items of the dinner. The duchess potatoes were the result of watching a cooking show during the afternoon on PBS. Another of my learning experiences has been to take all these TV cooks’ advice with a grain of – nay a hearty pinch of salt. The nice lady with the perpetual smile told me that my russet potatoes would be cooked to a delicately tender state after simmering for only twenty minutes. It took my Sear’s range a full thirty minutes just to bring the water to a simmer. Forty-five minutes later the potatoes were finally tender enough to be put through their paces in my potato ricer. Trying to work quickly and not get scalded too badly by the hot potatoes I managed to pipe them onto a cooking sheet and into the oven at somewhere near 400 degrees. I put the steaks into a hot skillet and went to work on the curried peas. Following the recipe I dutifully made a roux that resembled something a diarrheic dog might leave on my sidewalk. Adding peas, beef broth, and powdered curry let me believe I was on my way to a meal worth bragging about. I later learned a good deal about curry powder and that is; a little curry powder goes a long, long way.

Finally, almost three hours after starting the meal was ready and I called my wife to the table. If the state department ever needs a skilled diplomat I want to recommend my wife. She sweetly said that the meal was very good as she crunched tough overcooked duchess potatoes; a result of being extruded too thinly through a pastry pipe. She even had a second helping of the eye-watering curried peas.

In return I did the dishes. That brings me to today’s final learning experience about cooking. Cooking for two is difficult enough with the normal problems of shopping for two. But it is exacerbated by the mess you make. Cooking for two still makes a mountain of dishes to wash and that can be a disheartening experience after a dinner gone wrong.

Next Sunday – Pizza!