Yes, I like to cook.

I don’t guess I have to make apologies for that anymore. Time was, if a man admitted he liked to cook, people thought this was strange. Unless, of course, he was a professional chef. The same people who thought it “unmanly” to cook also thought it “unseemly” for a woman to be a chef. Cooking was “women’s work,” but not if it was a career. Careers were for men.

Our world is not like that anymore. And that’s a good thing. I’m not interested in starting a discussion between the “complementarians” and the “egalitarians” within the PCA who may be reading this blog. Whatever your feelings are on that issue, one thing is crystal clear in Scripture: in Christ “there is no male nor female” (Galatians 3:27-29). We are all equal before God. Yes, God has gifted us differently and has given us different gifts and interests. But God didn’t line everyone up and say, “OK, men you all like to work on your own transmissions. Women, you all like to make apple pies and knit.”

Some women like to cook. Some hate it. Same with men. Some like to cook, some just like to eat. When I was growing up, my mother did all the cooking. I remember when my brother was in the hospital having his tonsils removed (back then they kept you in the hospital for a few days: nowadays it’s outpatient surgery) and my dad cooked for himself and me. We had Aunt Jemima frozen waffles for breakfast and hot dogs for lunch. (I can’t remember what we had for dinner: it may have been Shoney’s or Sambo’s). That’s not a slam against him: it just wasn’t his bag. At the same time, I don’t remember ever seeing my mom throwing, hitting, or kicking a ball of any kind. That wasn’t her thing.

Years later, in grad school, I lived with my aunt and uncle. He loves to cook: he particularly likes making desserts. My aunt would cook for the family, but she really didn’t enjoy it, and since he did enjoy it, he probably ended up doing most of the cooking, and that was fine with both of them. There is no one model for how “it’s supposed to be.” As Joan Rivers once said, “Show me in the Bible where it says, ‘Woman cooks, man eats,’ and I’ll do it. Show me where it says, ‘And Bathsheba went forth and basted,’ and I’ll do it.”

In our home, the SmockLady and I both like to cook. I think that’s a good thing, because with six children, people always need to eat, and foisting all the cooking duties on one person, forcing that person to cook three meals a day for eight people, would be cruel and unusual punishment. Being married to her has meant an introduction to many of the foods she enjoys cooking, from her barbecued shrimp and smoked oysters (she grew up on the Gulf Coast) to her authentic Scottish shortbread (an ancient family recipe, which, no, you may not have, but she will make some for you). It was a batch of that shortbread, actually, that made me decide to ask her to marry me. It was in spite of my chicken cacciatore that she agreed. (It was not the food itself–I don’t think!–but the mess that I left in the kitchen and didn’t bother to clean up. I hope I have since learned to be a little more considerate, but I know I still mess up in that department.)

There is a rather large Dutch family that we know of–a large Dutch family: imagine that–who have older children now. The teenagers in that family are now largely responsible for the meal prep. The oldest son in particular really enjoys this task. As a matter of fact, he and one of his friends (also a guy) went to see a demonstration by Paula Deen! I think that’s great.

The SmockLady is much better at it than I am, but I do enjoy it; however, when I cook for the children, my meals are often of the lackluster “school lunch program” variety: a meat, some vegetables, some form of bread, and something to drink. Nutritious, but not very fun. But I love to learn more and more about a host of subjects, and cooking is one of them, so I try to expand my horizons from time to time. (BTW thanks again to whoever sent me the gift subscription to Cook’s Illustrated! The latest one arrived yesterday.)

I like to cook for a number of reasons. First (and probably most importantly), I like to be able to help out. If the SmockLady has been taking care of the children all day (especially during the school year, since she is homeschooling and taking care of a preschooler and a baby at the same time), and I’ve been behind a desk all day, who deserves a break more? The old “slippers and pipe” treatment doesn’t quite make sense to me. (Although I sure wish I still had my pipe, but I digress.) Second, it can be a stress-reliever for me. It can get my mind off negative or troubling thoughts. Putting a meal together, even something mundane like my “school lunch program” dinners, can be therapeutic. Third, I like to eat, and I love to try new dishes. I think it’s fun. I hope that the division of labor in this department in our home will have a positive impact on our children, particularly our sons.

Here are three of my current favorite sites right now:

BBC Food Recipes Database
Delia Online (Delia Smith)
New Scandinavian Cooking

Maybe, if I have some more time on my hands one of these days (job #2 has pretty much eliminated that), I’ll be able to try some new things and report on them here.

I know Mark has recently had a big promotion at work and has similarly not been able to post any recipes, but when he does, take note!

So how about y’all? Who out there likes to cook? (Chef, with a name like “Chef”, we know you must.) What do you like to cook? Why do you like to cook?

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About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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9 Responses to Yes, I like to cook.

  1. Chef says:

    I feel vaguely like I have been called into the principal’s office to explain why I have not lived up to my potential…

    Last winter was the festival of soups and stews that could be prepared on the cheap. Not very challenging but certainly tasty. I have devoted considerable time to grilling various cuts of meat this year and could grill the perfect T-bone with my eyes closed now. Grilled cauliflower that has been brushed with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper is my current favorite veggie. Grilling at our house is with hardwood charcoal which CancerMan was skeptical about at first but is learning how to cope quite well.

    I recently received Mario Batali’s new cookbook, so easy pasta has been popular on the nights when we don’t grill. The current favorite pasta is grilled Italian sausage with roasted red peppers tossed with olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and pepper with the pasta of your choice. We really enjoy penne as the pasta needs to hold its own versus the hearty sausage and sweet peppers.

    The most recent baking success was the sour cream fudge layer cake from Baking Illustrated. The youngest princess and I made it for a friend’s 50th birthday. Even though the bottom layer broke into three pieces when removing from the pan, the frosting made from bittersweet chocolate, butter and corn syrup (think glossier, fudgy ganache) did an admirable just as cake super glue.

  2. PaulB says:

    I enjoy grilling quite a bit (I realize that plays to the stereotype you’re trying to smash, but hey, it IS cooking). We use ours at least once a week. I’ve had limited success with our smoker, but when it works its very good.

  3. RevJATB says:

    Paul, I like to grill too. We haven’t done that nearly as much as we should so far this summer. But we should: we’ve got a full tank of LP gas for the gas grill AND we have a charcoal grill as well.

    I want to grill some bratwurst. I wish I could find some Lincolnshire sausages to grill.

    Chef, I could drink a big bowl of that ganache.

  4. Chef says:

    Publix makes a respectable bratwurst but I realize you might not be blessed with Publix in your town.

  5. RevJATB says:

    Oh Chef, if you only knew! We were just talking the other day about how we would LOVE to have a “real” grocery store of SOME kind: Publix (actually I mentioned that one first!), Kroger, even a Winn-Dixie. SOMETHING.

    I said this yesterday in particular reference to the fact that our grocery store never has certain items. They never have sulatanas (golden raisins) or currants. Never. Not even at Christmas. They never have Luzianne coffee–not that I drink it, but a couple in our church does. This is Louisiana, for crying out loud! What’s weird about that is, they have Luzianne tea all the time, as well as Blue Plate mayonnaise (made by the same company, Reily Foods of New Orleans), yet the manager says they can’t get Luzianne coffee. The couple we know who like it have it sent to them by one of their children, who lives in TEXAS!

    I also can’t get White Lily flour, as I’ve mentioned before, but I don’t think that has to do with the store so much as White Lily’s distribution area. Ditto Duke’s or Bama mayonnaise.

    I’d like to get my hands on some genuine golden syrup. I’d settle for some Yellow Label syrup. Oh well, it’s not like we can’t get eggs, milk, butter, etc. “With food and raiment let us be content.”

    Still, some sultanas would be nice . . . 🙂

  6. RevJATB says:

    Chef, on America’s Test Kitchen today they made an Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake that Christopher Kimball said was “the best recipe we’ve made in seven years of doing this show.” (This was the one-hour “America’s Test Kitchen Live” show for Begging Week on PBS). I looked it up on the cooksillustrated.com site, but of course it was a members-only recipe.

    Does that recipe happen to be in the Baking Illustrated book, or do you have the back issue of the magazine that contains that recipe? It looked SO GOOD and we’ve got a birthday coming up around here.

  7. RevJATB says:

    Sorry, I should have mentioned: it was published in the March 1, 2006 issue of the magazine.

  8. RevJATB says:

    Of course I could sign up for the 14 day free trial, copy as many recipes as I can, and then cancel, but I don’t feel right about that.

  9. Sara says:

    I’m a female cooking hater. I’ve never been able to figure out whether it’s because both of my parents feel that the kitchen is their sanctuary, and meal prep is their special alone time, meaning that even though I grew up learning to appreciate good food, I never learned how to make it. Or whether it’s genetic (my paternal grandmother is a notoriously awful cook, and we share a lot of other similar traits).

    This means that one of the most important things, to me, is living with someone who likes to cook and doesn’t mind feeding me. It also means I’ve become a dish-washing pro.

    I do, however, love to bake. Go figure.

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