Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Domestic Roots

My mother is a domestic hero. She cooked 3 meals a day for us, cleaned the house perfectly, played with us, encouraged creativity in us, and wouldn’t let us watch a lot of TV. We ate healthy whole meals that were always home cooked. All this with very little help from my father. That’s not to say that my dad was a dead beat, because he wasn’t at all. He just had no idea how to cook, or clean. He did the man stuff. He worked, made sure the yard and the house looked nice, took us all camping and taught me how to paint the house, fill up the car with gas, check the oil…. you know, man stuff. My family was pretty cookie-cutter when it came to gender roles. My Dad was well into his 60s when he learned how to run the DISHWASHER!

So, naturally I picked up both of those traits. I don’t think my mom would have wanted me to be a wife like her. She wanted me to be more independent and free spirited in a way that she never had the chance to be – although the fact that my mom has a recipe for pot brownies, and was the voice of “Miss Midnight” an erotic radio show that my parents did together in college, makes me think that she was way more free spirited than she thinks!

I wanted to be just like my mom…. and my dad. I wanted to be the housewife in the apron with the amazing recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie, but while the pie was cooking I wanted to be able to fix the car. I was on track for that but sadly I wasn’t allowed to take auto shop in high school like I wanted to. I’m still a little bitter about that, and don’t understand how the Pom Squad was ok, but auto shop was a no-no.

I always wanted to know how to cook. And every chance I had I would help my mom in the kitchen. She would let me add all the ingredients when baking, help her stir the pot, drop the dough in the oil when we made fresh doughnuts…I couldn’t get enough time in the kitchen!

I remember the first time I ever got to cook a meal. My mom had just returned home from the hospital and was home recovering in bed, unable to cook. My brother was in college and my Dad…well, he was less capable of cooking than his 8 year old daughter. I’m pretty sure I begged to do it too! I’m sure there was a little humoring the child going on too…but I didn’t care! I got to cook!

I went into the kitchen and looked around. My mom directed me in the right direction, “There’s chicken in the fridge…” I took the chicken, sliced it into uniform thin pieces. Chopped a few cloves of garlic. Took out the soy sauce, marinated the chicken in garlic and soy sauce. I guess I was making some sort of “Asian” meal. I heated up the pan and added the oil, then added the chicken pieces one by one. Dousing them a second time in soy sauce while they were cooking. I think I must have used at least a half a bottle of Soy Sauce on our chicken. I worked the chicken in pieces turning them over when they seemed cooked enough and transferred them to a plate when they were done.

I was beyond excited as I plated my first meal. Taking extra care to make sure that the meal looked pretty on the plate. I served my pitch black with soy sauce chicken with great pride! The soy sauce had completely permeated the chicken and it was black, not because I burned it, but with an ungodly amount of sodium. If you didn’t know what it was you would probably have taken one look at it and thought it was steak. I can’t remember what I made on the side. It must not have been an original recipe because I certainly would have remembered if it was. But that chicken…I really thought that I had created the greatest chicken recipe ever! And I ate it as if it was. I’m pretty sure my parents were humoring me as they ate theirs, reaching for a couple glasses of water I’m sure.

My mom put me in a cooking class after that.

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