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How To Cook When You're Not Sure How

I am the worst cook in the entire world. This is not something I should be proud of, as I esteem myself on being a pretty decent babysitter, until it comes to the part where the kids and hungry and I'm biting on my nails trying to figure out what I could possibly throw in the microwave that you would consider a sufficient meal. My dad is a chef, so while living at home for almost 18 years, being deprived of decent food wasn't really a problem. We were always on the run as well, whether it was travel soccer, softball, or the never ending slew of family parties, so sometimes food on-the-go was an absolute must. Add in a mother whose only specialties are breakfast food and snacks, and you get the last piece to the puzzle of my inability to properly produce a meal. All of these factors combine to form my biggest weakness: I can't cook.

Now, when I say this, I don't mean that I can't cook pasta or make a slice of toast. I am a master at the toaster oven and have breakfast food down pat. But I can't have a toaster oven at school and I don't know how many eggs I can eat before I turn into a chicken. Because of this, I ate a lot of spaghetti at school. A lot. If it couldn't be heated up in a microwave or boiled, I was pretty much screwed in the cooking department. My suite mate cooked amazing things on our tiny little stovetop. She'd sauté chicken and vegetables, various pastas with delicious smelling sauces. For Valentine's Day, she even cooked herself a steak! I always stared at her creations in awe because I could never in a thousand years produce something so delicious unless I sold my soul to the devil. Even then, it would be sort of up in the air.

My goal for this summer was to learn how to cook without relying on a toaster oven or a regular oven. Just me, a microwave, and a stovetop. Maybe it was wishful thinking, because when do I possibly have time to cook a meal? When I get home from work, I'm either rushing to go somewhere else or starving and unable to wait for myself to attempt to prepare a legitimate meal beyond a damn Hot Pocket. That was my dilemma, until I realized I could combine work and my goal. Thus came the experimental stage of my cooking whilst babysitting. It was a win/win situation. The kids got fed and I got to practice a skill that I desperately need come August unless I want to eat enough pasta to feed the entire country of Italy.

I started off easy. I wasn't going to jump right in and start sautéing the crap out of some vegetables while doing backflips through the kitchen (if a chef can do this, let me be you, please). It started with macaroni and cheese. Simple enough, though I always make it too damn watery for my taste. The kids love it though, so I suppose it doesn't really matter what I think. I can't make mac 'n cheese every day. I'm sure my youngest cousin wouldn't mind, but it's a bit boring, don't you think?

I advanced to cooking rice. I started with plain white rice in a pot on the stove, despite the fancy rice maker that is hidden somewhere within the mysterious confines of the vast cupboard space in the kitchen. Add a little butter and I've got myself a decent little snack for the kids to hold them off until their parents get home and can cook them a proper meal without poisoning them by accident or some other horrible outcome from my cooking.

When white rice got too boring, I put on my big girl pants and grabbed a rice pilaf box from the pantry. How hard could rice pilaf be? Not hard at all, until you realize that you can't just give a child rice for a meal. Scrambling to find a protein to go along with an entire box full of starch, I stuck my head in the fridge, reveling in the beauteous amount of fresh berries. No! Focus Francesca! Lo and behold, I found a baggie of pre-cooked chicken. The angels sang as I took the bag from the shelf and began ripping the strips of chicken into small cubes. I tossed the cubes into the cooking rice to heat them up. Voila! I had myself chicken pilaf. Okay, so I didn't make up the chicken pilaf because it is literally on the back of the box, as I found out after I got the chicken out of the fridge. But still, I made a meal out of a stupid 99 cent box of rice. Suck on that, Gordon Ramsay.

So how do you cook when you're not quite sure how to do so? Fake it until you make it. That's my motto in life for everything. Just wing it. The worst that's going to happen is that you're going to give yourself food poisoning or you're going to forget you're cooking, set your entire kitchen ablaze, and piss off your entire floor when the fire alarm goes off because you were trying to cook your sixth rice pilaf of the week.

Eh, I tried.


  1. Lol this made me laugh! I'm usually okay if I just follow a recipe step by step and if I don't know something I just google it or ask my momma!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls

    1. Glad it made you laugh!! Oh my gosh, even step by step recipes trip me up. Basically, my steps need steps within them, haha. I think I'm hopeless at this point. Yes! When all else fails, moms know best. :)


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