Cooking with Courage

I’ll never forget the day my mom put out a fire.

She was cooking something on the stove while several of my siblings, one of my grandmas, and I were milling about the kitchen.

Suddenly flames towered around the frying pan.

My mom calmly stepped out of the way of the combustion to open the spice cupboard and said (these are her words exactly), “Is it baking powder or baking soda that puts out a kitchen fire?”

My eyes and mouth were as round as cucumbers. Everyone else in the kitchen was speechless, too. My mother pulled whichever canister she decided was the correct fire fighting ingredient and doused out the flames.

I hope to be brave like her.

Beginner Cook Confessions

In the cooking realm I’ve faced a lot of fear on numerous fronts. Fear of making someone ill with bacteria. Fear of failing at a recipe. Fear of equipment blowing up or grease sparking a house fire. Even fear of what people will think about my food.

While growing up I managed to be very busy with things other than preparing food. Writing scripts for dramas. Teaching my brother to read. Working at a calendar warehouse. Cleaning the bathroom. Besides, my sisters always seemed to want to cook, and it was like their special talent.

Between fear, busyness, and my kindness in letting sisters shine on this one (or um, laziness??), I got married without expansive experience in the kitchen.

My mom always believed in me. “Someday you’ll be motivated, and you’ll do fine.”

To my utter shock — in spite of all my years of worrying about it — I’ve found that I can cook daily, and I actually enjoy it. Gusteau from Ratatouille says, “Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great.”

There’s some truth to this outside Pixar because cooking for me is about fearlessness. It’s also about creativity. A perfect challenge.

Week 1: Back in July, week one of our marriage and setting up house didn’t require cooking because we were prepping for my sister’s wedding. We weren’t even home but busy eating bbq with the family, street tacos with the other bridesmaids, or honey badger sausage appetizers at the rehearsal dinner.

Week 2: I got really sick, and Luke did all the cooking. He’s lived on his own for years so he took great care of us.

Week 3: I ripped tags off new tools and googled everything (I’d be embarrassed if you could see my search history). And made a bunch of rich recipes with brie cheese, and much to my great satisfaction, no one who has eaten at my house ever got food poisoning to my knowledge. I photographed every plate for an Instagram accountability group with my sisters.

Week 4: Luke went back to school, and I fully took the reigns of shopping and food prep.

Week 5: I realized I like cooking because recipes are just guidelines. I check for times and temperatures and the basic idea, but then I sometimes go off script like I am writing a story. It brings so much relief to use the right side of my brain! It’s fun. And Luke–praise the Lord–is an easy crowd.

My crash course in cooking from scratch has taught me a lot. God doesn’t want me to be afraid of a potential grease fire or a sensitive smoke alarm. He also doesn’t want me to measure my culinary art against others’ cooking (or food photography).

It’s definitely a journey. A journey that involves a lot more googling. I’m not sure where it will end up … serving even when I get tired of my new kitchen? Gourmet chef status? Learning to work around an allergy? Inviting an international over for ethnic food? Budget cuts? A cooking show?

Wherever this lifestyle takes me, I pray God is always glorified with my creative efforts, and the menus are always spiced, and the cook is always courageous.

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in your cooking ventures!

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