Life is a Kitchen, But You Don’t Have a Pretty Apron


When we first got married,

and my husband just assumed that he would be getting three squares a day along with the deal,

he was in for a huge surprise.

He had to teach me how to fry eggs.  Fry Eggs!  I know, totally inept.

And we’ve already talked about chainsaw pie crust.

Should I even mention the times we had to throw black crusted pans in the trash because I “got distracted?”  (It’s funny how easy it is to get distracted when one is newly married.)

Somehow I never got the memo that

Life is a kitchen.

Two friends and I were out for coffee the other afternoon, and you know how it goes.

You share your hearts and talk about your children and ask each other how it’s going with the sick grandchild and the one who’s having a hard time in school and the cousin who is in the hospital.

And through all this sharing, you get to feeling really close, and you start saying things you never thought you would ever tell anyone.

That kind of close.

When you blurt out, “I’ve never really enjoyed cooking!”

One friend, the most virtuous of us and the one who knows me best, looked at me in disbelief.  Almost as if she wanted to accuse me of lying.  And then, with surprise saturating her voice, she said, “I never knew that!”  (We’ve been through thick and thin, people.  Twenty some years.)

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Put on a pretty apron and…

“Well,” I qualified to my friend, “When the boys were still home and the food actually got eaten, I did sort of get into it then.”

And that’s what happened.  There were helpless little mouths that gaped with hunger, who couldn’t even fill a cereal bowl with cheerios and milk, and I realized I wanted an apron.

I wanted to make these little ones strong and feed them healthy foods and help them get ready to take on the world.  And I became better acquainted with that room with the stove and fridge that came with the house.  I devoured the huge Betty Crocker Binder Cookbook cover to cover.  Learned to talk moderate oven and stiff peaks and marinating.  I hounded my cooking friends with requests for the recipes for their delicious dishes, and actually learned to imitate the flavors.

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So I had the pretty apron, and I learned to

Whip up something incredible.

Julia Child said, “Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

My love for my children drew my heart completely into the kitchen for that time.

But I always had other things I loved that I wanted to have time for, so my recipe book of family favorites became a collection of quick and easy meals.

Cook a pot full of chicken, cut in chunks and freeze.  Create six different impressive meals.  Poppyseed chicken. Sour cream enchiladas. Hashbrown chicken casserole, Chicken Alfredo, and the all time best, Spicy Chicken Manicotti.

And today?

I don’t wear an apron very much.

But the daughters-in-law occasionally call and ask for that recipe, you know, the special sauce for waffles.  Oh, and the waffle recipe, too.

That’s why I made the Jayne and Annie Recipe Albums.

Because everyone needs those special recipes that Mom made, that aren’t in Betty Crocker or Pioneer Woman or Six Sisters.  (Or maybe are, but who can have all the cookbooks?)

And I need to invent a Dorothy Recipe Album, because now I ask my dils for recipes and my original book is too tattered and splattered.

Wait for it.  I’m working on the cover!

And by the way, I’m in the market for a new pretty apron.

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