Negligible Nutrition

Negligible Nutrition

[singlepic id=49 w=320 h=240 float=left]It’s about this time of year that I re-discover I hate cooking.

You would think this is a fact about myself I wouldn’t forget, but the holiday season always lures me into a false sense of culinary confidence.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fires? Simple!” I shout and rush to the store, only to come to my senses hours later as I nuke macadamia nuts in a microwave. You would think a girl who subsides on Swiss Miss and Red Vines would have come to understand she couldn’t cook a long time ago, but my powers of delusion are great. I love the idea of entertaining and I love the idea of bringing friends and family ’round a table laden with seasonal goodies…just heaven help the neighbors as I attempt to make my ideas reality.

“Your smoke alarm is going off again!” the building manager shouts from his apartment, which I can hear as I have all the windows open to get rid of the smoke. “Thanks!” I shout back, wondering if it’s now a bad thing that when they hear an alarm go off in my apartment their first thought is “She’s baking again.”

I have always been extraordinarily bad at cooking and perversely good at setting off fire alarms. I gained notoriety in college as the girl who set off all the alarms in her building by boiling water. I can now disable most household fire alarms in 30 seconds or less. If I was to ever die in a real fire, when my life flashed before my eyes it would be a tableau of all my various roommates and I trying to fan smoke out a window.

I don’t even have to be the one cooking in order to get something to burn. Just being in a room and contributing even the slightest amount will do. On a recent trip to Boston I added a crumble of brown sugar to an apple crisp. Five minutes later the fire department showed up.

“I barely even turned on the oven!” my friend exclaimed.

I think my problem with cooking is that it doesn’t fall into the two extremes of my attention span. You need someone to intensely focus on a project for hours on end, cutting out all distractions and entering a near trance, you call me. If you need someone to hit a button and then completely ignore something for hours, call me too. But cooking falls in this stressful middle ground, where you can’t put something in the oven and walk away, but you’ll bore yourself to tears trying to intensely focus on a process that largely happens in an oven. Boring and stressful, cooking is a magical activity that makes me feel as adept as a two-year-old chewing on soap because it looks like candy.

And don’t’ get me STARTED on measuring.

“How much flour did you add to this cookie dough?” my boyfriend asks.

“Uh…” I respond, trying to remember if I used a measuring cup or a Subway Monopoly Cup. “Why?”

“Because it’s both too much and not enough.”

Thus if you see me in a grocery store, loading a cart with turkey and babbling about being home for the holidays, stop me. Soothe my raging brow, stop my feverish foodie dreams, and rip the ingredients out of my hands before steering me to the microwaveable dinner aisle. For, at the end of the day, the greatest gift I can give to you is not cooking and accidentally giving you salmonella poisoning.

And the greatest gift you can give me is hot coco and a bucket of Red Vines.