Anything to Keep Me Out of the Kitchen

Thea Devine today, thinking that the above sentiment started the day that my firstborn, who is living with us for the time being, said to me that he was having heart attacks watching me slice onions.  Or maybe it was the day we finally got propane and installed a gas stove, which my husband, who does cook, had been wanting for the ten years we’ve been living in CT.

In any event, my son decided that a) he dislikes watching me cook with the sole purpose of “getting it over with”;  b) the notion of the “throwing it into the oven” was an unacceptable term for roasting;  c) he’d do almost anything to keep me out of the kitchen.

And when I do cook, as I did last night, he comes wandering into the kitchen and peers over my shoulder.  Did you scrub the mussels?  Individually?  Discard open ones?  And saute garlic for the sauce?  I felt like I was back in my junior high home economics class. Teacher is watching.    Only he happens to be my son.  Making me feel fourteen again.  And how many years ago was that??

He’s been coming into my office every couple of evenings to casually ask, what’s for dinner?  And I say — roast, spaghetti, chicken, whatever, and he says, I feel like cooking.  And I say, really?  I wouldn’t mind.

And finally I say, if you even ask, you know I’m going to say, yes.  Because he’s suddenly cooking a lot in an explosion of experimentation and trying to educate my palate to like spicy food.  He hooks up his computer in the kitchen, surfs recipes, and cooks.  With love.

I was planning my last ditch when-I-have-nothing-else-in-mind-for-dinner tuna noodle casserole  one night, when he said, do you mind if I do it?  I said, go ahead, but understand that if you take it up a notch, you will bear the burden of cooking it next time.

And he said, it’s not a burden, it’s joyful, it’s fulfilling.  And I melted.

I’ve seen this happen before — with my husband.  His mom was a fabulous cook.  My mom wasn’t.  My first post-marriage birthday present from my husband was the New York Times Cook Book.  Enough said.

However, my husband didn’t start cooking seriously until he was going through a rough patch career-wise.  My son is going through something similar now.  For them, cooking is cathartic, a creative outlet, almost the way writing is for me.

And there are other similarities:  it’s hands-on. It has a beginning, a middle, an end.  It’s an accomplishment.  It can be experimental or comforting, complex or plain, there can be lots of accompaniments, or a focus on just one thing.  In the end, something is produced that is consumable (words or a pot roast) and there’s audience feedback.

Me, I’d rather write, play guitar (and write lyrics), crochet, — I could lovingly do those things for hours.  I’m always psychically at war with anything that keeps me from writing especially (read housework, shopping, paying bills, cooking).

Which is why I “throw it in the oven.”  I’ve got a book to write, plots to carve and words to chop, saute and bake (slowly and lovingly) into the cake that will be my next novel.  I’m happy to leave the cooking to someone else.  I love it that they don’t want me in the kitchen.  But shhh — don’t tell them. … Actually — I think they already know.

Do your men cook?   Is there anything you love to do more than anything else?  Anything creative?  Or do you just ove to cook, and is that your respite?

Thea Devine is working on the sequel to The Darkest Heart, now titled Beyond The Night and scheduled for release April 2013 by Pocket Star.


8 thoughts on “Anything to Keep Me Out of the Kitchen”

  1. I can relate with you. Don’t like cooking very much and my son normally took the task right out of my hand. Since he left to work in San Francisco is miss him, aka his cooking skills 🙂

  2. Funny, Thea! I don’t mind cooking and I’m pretty good at it, but now that my kids are grown and I’ve got my writing to keep me busy, I feel extremely blessed that my husband does most of the cooking. He enjoys it and is wonderful at it, so I tell him, “Go for it, baby!” I think you’re right about if being cathartic and creative for them. It seems to be his way of winding down at the end of the day. The only problem is that he used to cook for three sons so he supersizes everything and cooks as if he’s cooking for an army. That means lots of leftovers and often more waste than I’d like. How can one complain about that?

  3. Interesting … So “Mom, what’s for supper?” never really ends, is that what you’re saying? 🙂 I enjoy cooking, but I don’t really enjoy shopping or meal planning! My husband is a good cook, but doesn’t do it as often as I, ahem, would like him to. My son has mastered cereal, hot dogs, toast, sandwiches, scooping ice cream, and popping the tops on cans of Arnold Palmer tea/lemonade. I consider those basic skills!

    1. Now, see — I love shopping — all that clipping coupons, earning gas points. And I always shop big — what my son calls “apocalyptic shopping.” But invariably when I haven’t shopped as frequently, I’m asked if I’ve gone on strike. A husband who cooks is a man to treasure. And those basic skills are probably all your son will need when he goes to college.


  4. Thea, your post touched a soft spot in my heart. I love to cook, but with little time, I usually cook only once or twice a week. But what really got to me was when you said “I would rather play my guitar and write lyrics.” Mine sits and waits staring at me day after day, as does my grand piano. Well, at least I don’t have to tune the piano each time I play on occasion. And forget the lyrics, no time for that unless I use my WIP to sing to? Hmmm, maybe that would work. It is fun enjoying someone else’ cooking. Both my sons are fantastic cooks. One was in Bangladesh for two years. He learned Indian cooking and taught the Bengali’s how to make bagels. He worked for a bagel company putting himself through college. My visit there almost killed me, my indigestion from Indian spices took me bent over to the doctor when I got home. Imagine? It is so wonderful to have your son around and cooking. Fantastic. I am sure it is a joy. Right?

    1. You’re right about having my eldest around. He was in Taiwan for a while teaching; he loves spicy food and is constantly trying to sneak some fire into the dishes he cooks. The joke in my house is, is it hot enough for you?
      In addition, since he’s been home, I’ve become progressively less smart about everything.


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