Over the past two weeks I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. Not because it was requested of me, but because I currently have nothing else on the go. Also, I’ve been watching a lot of Chopped and, like, how hard can it be? If you can make a dessert out of squid, artichoke and licorice, then I can make a half-decent dinner for two out of chicken thighs and oranges.
If you had asked me for my best recipe about 14 days ago I would have told you Kraft Dinner — that is, if I had all the ingredients in my fridge. This one time, I had to make it with canola oil and beer and that probably wasn’t the highlight of my culinary life. Still tasted cheesy though....
Anyway, the frustrating thing about my lack of culinary skill is that I have always adored cooking. In the scheme of things, it’s one of the only adventures you can have without leaving your house and going on the Internet — which means, so long as you can afford groceries, it’s free. I love the idea of cooking because I love food — I love eating it, I love smelling it, I love looking forward to it being in and around my face. It’s one of life’s simplest pleasures.
Except, it’s not that simple if you’re cursed in the culinary arts like I am.
There’s a famous story in my family that gets told whenever my dad looks like he needs lightening up. A recipe for chocolate cake instructed him to beat the batter on high and, not knowing that electric mixers were a thing, he cranked the stove top to H and whipped that batter around until it was tastefully crisped. The cake tasted burned, and upon discovery of the ruined batter pot, my mother decided never to let his literal interpretation of The Joy Of Cooking be forgotten.
Equally as hilarious and mortifying was the time I tried to make a chocolate cake three times over and couldn’t figure out why it was coming out of the oven as runny as when I put it in. Finally, after having my mother watch me to find out what I was doing wrong, I was informed that I was making the cake correctly — apart from the fact I was using icing sugar as opposed to flour.
These things happen regularly in my kitchen — or they did, until recently. Since my current 9-5 involves playing Cinderella and being a stay-at-home blogger, I’ve had the time to conduct a series of semi-successful experiments that have turned me into a half-decent kind-of cook. I mean, I haven’t put tin foil in the microwave in 10 days, so that’s a really big improvement.
“What are we having for dinner tonight?” It’s a question I still can’t answer. Much like my writing, my lifestyle, my outfit planning and my rapping, my meal planning is very freestyle. It’s a dash of this, a dash of that and a giant splash of something that will have to do.
I don’t believe in following recipes, and this probably explains all of my mishaps — it’s not that I can’t cook if I’m following instructions (KD, right?), it’s that I don’t ever bother following them and I’m all but too eager to make substitutions (canola oil and beer).
Even in the kitchen I want to be able to say my creation is an Andria Parker Original. Sometimes, what turns out is terrible. Sometimes it’s decent. Sometimes, I hit that shit out of the park — but I can always attest to the fact that, whatever the result, it’s my own doing.
It turns out writing your own recipes is a lot like writing your own rules.
— Andria is a twenty-something blogger living in Kamloops with her 100 pairs of heels and 200 paperback Penguin Classics.