September 24, 2012

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

Photo by Aubrey L. Stopa Photography.
Here's something that's actually very hard for me to admit to the big wide world. I don't like cooking with other people.

In fact, I remember at one point during holiday cooking last year when I specifically referred to a family member as a "sous-chef," implying that I was the one calling the shots and they could help me chop veggies. The idea of sharing meal preparation appeals to me in every way, except in practice. I get edgy, controlling, particular; anyone who's ever cooked with me knows this. I wonder why my co-pilot is chopping the vegetables on a diagonal, or shredding cheese with the wrong side of the grater, or adding the garlic at that point in the cooking.

I'm a MONSTER! Yikes!

So first off, my sincere apologies to everyone who has ever shared counter space with me before and thought, "What a {insert word of your choice here}!" I'm hoping to correct this crazy behavior before this holiday season hits us!

Recently, I've realized that this monstrous kitchen mentality means I cut myself off from sharing one of my favorite things to do with the people I love. And it's getting pretty lonely in the kitchen.

Why do I insist on cooking alone? Why am I such a control freak, a real Type A, no-nonsense cook?There is a specific way I like things done, and an order and a rhythm to my way that to some may translate to chaos. Can't I see that my enjoyment in the kitchen could be magnified if I just opened up and shared it with someone?

I'd like to change. It would be such a nice thing to enjoy preparing dinner with Ryan, or anyone else for that matter.

So how do I change my ways? I have a plan, and it goes a little something like this.

  1. Bring a friend in on my meal planning. Let's take my husband, for instance: ask for (and listen to) his input on the week's meal plan. 
  2. Begin to implement the plan together. This may be tricky as step one is grocery shopping and I know at least one person in our household does not enjoy that. 
  3. Divide tasks ahead of time. Before we begin preparing a meal, establish clear-cut roles. 
  4. Do not step on toes. I am the queen of back-seat food preparation. Step back and appreciate that everyone can bring their own creative recipe interpretations to the table. 
  5. Enjoy the adventure and the experience. 
  6. Stop being so formulaic about things, as evidenced by this numbered list.
  7. Loosen up and let everyone else have as much fun as I do while cooking. Get creative, try things a different way, read the recipe aloud together and follow the steps—or not.
Any other tips? Have you converted to a communal cook and lived to tell the tale? Do share!


Candace said...

Oh my, I relate 100%. My poor husband. He says I "kick him out" of "my" kitchen. I recently asked him for input on meals for the month (I'm trying to plan ahead, buy ahead, and minimize trips to the grocery store, and in turn save money), and I planned the entire menu before he could reply to my email, haha.