Thursday, April 29, 2010


Considering the kitchen: the Matron does not excel at heat. She can make a mean salad. There's pudding, various arrangements of fruit, and wicked sandwiches (add hummus to everything!). But put something in the oven or on a burner, and well, she's sort of toast.

Here's the scene. There are noodles on the stove and a chicken in the oven.

Her husband comes home, registers the emergency and immediately resets the oven temperature and turns down the heat on the noodles.

This annoys the Matron.

"Really! I have this under control!"

Another chapter in this story:

Scarlett: "Mom? Can Dad make us popcorn? I really want popcorn! I'm DYING for popcorn."

Matron: "Dad's busy. But I can."

Scarlett: "No thank you. I don't need popcorn."

Matron: "Scarlett, I am perfectly capable of popping corn in a pan and putting butter on it. I am 47 years old, have a doctorate, have traveled the world. I can pop corn."

Scarlett: "No thank you."

Then there was the quite remarkable Thanksgiving. Stryker caught his mother putting the turkey into the oven.

Stryker: "Mom!!! Where's Dad? Please don't do this!"

Now, the Matron has not only a problem with heat but with the whole narrative of inept motherhood -- completely competent women pretend that their houses are dirty, kids out of control, dinners boiled to death. If you read a lot of blogs about mothering, you find women highlighting (extending?) their shortcomings. It's currently hip to be inept at the fundamentals. You know what she means. There's some weird sort of value in dismissing the job, in lamenting the cookies not made and dishes not done--the kid whose camp you forgot.

But the cooking and heat thing in this household? Not the dismissive or imagined shortcoming, but a genuine family battleground.

Because the Matron will die at the stove top over her right to be in control of dinner -- even a bad one -- rather than have her husband come home and revise everything she's started.

"Hey, let me stir that pot."

"I can take over the pork loins."

"Are you sure you want the steaks to stay on the pan for so long?"

Makes her crazy.

Too many cooks in your kitchen? Or are you in the one in control?


racheld said...

I cook. He appreciates, enjoys, compliments.

He also does all the cookies and makes "his" spaghetti about twice a year, with enough for two freezer boxes left over each time for other meals.

I don't touch either one, for there's a WAY to do it, and my aid is reserved for chopping and peeling and can you find some pecans in the freezer?

He also grills---better than anyone in living memory. Not just his opinion, but everyone's---he's a Master.

And only once did I try to help. He was running late, company was almost in the driveway, and I started the coals.

He didn't complain, but losing my eyebrows just once was enough for me.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

I pray for another cook in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I don't take for granted the many contributions to our household that my husband makes in various, creative, and abiding ways. But I pray for another cook in the kitchen nonetheless. If the cook were a he, and he came with lined and bedazzled eyes, all the better.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I am the cook, but when other people step in I am a happy sous chef since I HATE to cook. "Can I help?" I will do dishes without batting an eye if it gets me out of cooking!

Anonymous said...

I do almost all of the cooking in my house, and I love it. I'm pretty good at it. My husband will occasionally cook, and he does pretty well, but I have a hard time sharing 'my' space. I also tend to turn the pans down, he thinks if he cooks things on high heat, they will cook faster. Not always true. But after reading your post I think I may need to be a little more respectful of his kitchen incursions :) Maureena

Maggie C. said...

Haha precisely the reason why, when it happens, I am banned from visible sight of the kichen while Boyfriend cooks :) (And I'm just lucky that when he does do it, he does a pretty darn good job!)