I have a rather un-feminist confession to make: I have never liked the idea of having a man in my kitchen. All the husbands I knew who cooked seemed to get embroiled in these very elaborate recipes that involved blowtorches and trips to multiple specialty markets. Dinner seemed to run quite late on a regular basis, and the wives, between keeping the kids out of the way and then cleaning up the man mess, seemed to end up with as much work, if not more, as if they just cooked themselves. Not for me, I proclaimed.
I grew up cooking. By the time I was in high school, I knew how to make most of my mom's recipes and most days I at least got dinner started when I came home from school. I know how to buy groceries at the biggest grocery store I can find, stock the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and make dinner nightly based on whatever I have on hand. I can take a pot roast from deep freeze to table in one hour (thank you, inventor of the pressure cooker) and serve it up with mashed potatoes and gravy, a green veg, and rolls. I cook like a mom.
Before we had kids, I subscribed to Food and Wine and watched fancy cooking shows and went through phases of baking bread from scratch. I was an adventurous and creative cook, and I looked for opportunities to challenge my skills and cook for a group. But you know, when you cook dinner for nine people at least three nights a week, where's the challenge? Sadly, since the kids started coming, cooking has become less a thrill and more a chore. I've been in a rut.
But things have changed around chez Sassy. BD, he cooks! Since selling the shop and becoming a feelance writer based from home, he has gotten himself a cookbook and started making stuff out of it. I'm not sure if it's because he knows my feelings about the male cooking-as-major-project deal, or if it's just because he's very new to the kitchen, but so far he has stuck to basic-but-good dishes. And I must admit, it has been absolutely wonderful.
I'm not ready to give up cooking altogether, but not having to do it four or five nights a week is very relaxing. And surpisingly, I find myself thinking about branching out and trying new recipes instead of just auto-piloting the old staples. In the past week or so, I've made polenta dishes (cooking my own polenta, not using storebought) and tamales from scratch, much as I might have done ten years ago but would not have felt like doing a month ago. It's been fun. Having a man in the kitchen is not so bad after all! Especially if he happens to be wearing jeans and a black tshirt and have a dishtowel hanging from his back pocket.