Cooking Sucks – Revisited

In a recent post, I wrote about going feral. Also known as, “bach-in’ it” or “not eating like a grown-up.” I shared it in part because I think it’s humorous, but also partially because I think it’s perilously easy for someone who keeps a food blog and who is known to enjoy cooking to come across as someone who always has the best food to put in her face-hole. (Especially when I tweet about workday French toast.) That’s a lie, and it can be demoralizing to read, I suspect.

But in discussing going feral, I didn’t really address many of the reasons driving my feral-ness. And that wasn’t intentional. It was just kinda spilling onto the page, because the major reason I shared is that sometimes I find I treat myself better when I’m open and vulnerable, rather than trying to only show the highlight reels of my life (as it were). Your emotional support helps me not just subsist on crackers for three days straight. (I have never gone quite so feral as that after starting this blog.) And so, first and foremost, thank you for that.

A close up of a heart-shaped waffle, with a couple blobs of waffle that didn't manage to become heart-shaped on each side.

Realizing how much I appreciate your emotional support and realizing you all might be interested I concluded: maybe I should just dive deeper into “going feral” and write about some “whys”. Namely, cooking can really suck. You know?

There’s still plenty of days when I’m cooking, or ought to be cooking, and I just look at the kitchen and feel defeated (especially if I’m just cooking for one). My friend Leslie recently reminded me that I am not alone in thinking this. Many people (particularly women) feel the same. And not only am I not alone, present-day, a long line of women came before me feeling the same damn way. Turns out a lot of factors that can, individually, suck go into “cooking.”

Each factor, alone, is totally surmountable.

Dishes? Ugh. I absolutely detest washing dishes. It is a day in and day out slog. I’m not as efficient in my cooking as I’d like to be to minimize dishes, leading to scenes like this one from almost four years ago. While that’s not always happening, of course, it certainly contributes to the stress of things. In that moment, there’s little worse than having done a bunch of cooking, only to have to face cleaning it all up.

Ok, but I can do it.

But then, there’s the time factor. Especially now that I’m working outside the home, with a rather variable schedule, cooking has gotten that much more challenging on those days. Sure, it’s not every day, but it’s another piece to that puzzle. Sometimes I don’t even know if I’m going to manage to eat dinner at home. I’m eating a lot of peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunches.

A close-up of a purse with a sandwich in tupperware at the bottom, as well as other purse acutrema (for example, tissues) around in it.

Ok. PBJ is great for satiating hunger and it’s super fast to both eat and make. Dinners at home… Well, we can figure out. Probably.

But my shorter amount of time to cook and rather variable schedule is just one sort of time factor. Another is that I’m just slow in the kitchen. Despite a lot of practice & excellent instruction from Chef Diane, my knife skills are only ok. I’m slow. And cutting onions makes me runny nosed & watery eyed. I can’t tell if I’m overly perfectionist when cutting. Or when browning meat. Or anything else.

But perfectionism can be overcome, and certainly leads to an excellent end state… that’s devoured in no time…

I sometimes resent the time that grocery shopping/cooking/cleaning the dishes takes out of my writing day, especially now that I have so little energy after work. I love the job, but it’s physically demanding.

Sometimes? Sometimes I just have other things I want or need to do MORE than cook. But cooking is important…

The list just goes on forever. A bunch of totally achievable things that somehow…

Often join together to be (or feel) insurmountable when compared to the energy and capacity I may have on any given day. It’s a lot. And that’s for someone who enjoys not only eating food, but cooking it. That’s for someone who can (and does) spend hours a day considering food and cooking and issues around these things.

Foreground is a bunch of halved brussels sprouts in a sheet pan. Background is a measuring cup of cream, a canning jar of mustard, two lemons, and an iPad with a recipe up.

And it’s not the first time I’ve said these things. I can only find posts from the first few years of the blog, but I have a sense I say this sort of thing at least once a year. Because, frankly, cooking is delightful, fun, and worth dedicating a whole blog (or a gazillion!) to, but it’s also a fucking pain in the ass that can really make life harder.

And that’s me speaking just for me, a woman with decided advantages and privilege in life, who also nearly obsesses on food and beverage. What does it look like for someone who doesn’t fit in any of those categories? I pondered that in this post about cooking sucking, and link in that post to another piece that really gets into that same question. (Tracie McMillan’s fantastic piece, Cooking isn’t fun.)

Maybe if it weren’t that food is required for life. Maybe if it weren’t so important for environmental choices. Maybe if it weren’t constantly about the health of me, Bill, and everyone. Maybe if it weren’t so goddamn super-charged with politics…

I don’t know. But I know sometimes food, cooking, and related tasks are a lot to deal with. And I feel it’s important to express that, and to be honest that I recognize challenges. Mine are real, but relatively small compared to those others face. And I think it’s important to acknowledge these problems, small and large.

I think it’s important to say cooking can be a fucking pain in the ass that really makes life harder. Sometimes, I think, I (and others like me) focus too much on what a delight it can be and how healthful and so forth.

If you’re frustrated at cooking, if you hate it, if you are tired of it, just know that this food blogger isn’t going to pretend she can’t see why.

Sometimes? It sucks. And in my next post, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I am and am not overcoming that. I’d love to know your thoughts on what makes cooking hard or easy for you, or any tips or tricks you have for making it suck less.

5 thoughts on “Cooking Sucks – Revisited

  1. I love cooking. Unless I *have* to cook. In which case I’m inclined to throw my hands up and heat up a can of soup or order delivery. In my case it’s the combined problems of lack of time and picky family (toddlers, whee!) that make it nearly impossible to deal with weekday dinners even when I go into them with a solid plan. Lucky for me toddlers are pretty much always feral, so I can throw bread and a heated-up frozen meatball at him and he’s happy.

    Dishes suck too. Even with a dishwasher. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I feel like I always find the most complicated way to cook anything, and use up every dish and implement in the kitchen in the process.

  2. I have no idea when it happened but I find cooking therapeutic. It’s a lot to constantly be doing the dishes. My kitchen is small and I believe in the philosophy of cleaning as you go. And even that is some weird hump that I’m able to get over. I’m not sure that I’d be as up for being on my feet after your new job. My only recommendation is to explore making single serving meals to put in the freezer or to cook for multiple meals.

    • I think cooking can be therapeutic for me, but it can also be a grind. I haven’t yet sorted out what makes the difference between these two states.

      I clean as I go, but probably not as well as most. I’m still trying to nail it down. And then that can get frustrating because I’ll put a spoon in the soapy water thinking I’m done with it, only to find I need another… Argh.

      I’m getting better at cooking for the freezer; I’ll be writing about it for tomorrow.

      • I did forget to mention that I am also slow in my methods. That can definitely impact the tone of cooking when you’re tired.

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