I'm eating soup.
You may be thinking, "Big deal, whacko. Everyone eats soup."
But I MADE this soup. From scratch. (And in the interest of full disclosure? I have more simmering on the stove.)
This might not be a big deal to you. But to someone who spent most of her life being really very okay with not knowing how to cook?
So here's the story.
When I was in junior high, I had to take home ec. Everyone had to, actually -- home ec AND shop. I liked shop -- machines! Building things! Fun!
I did not like home ec.
I liked my home ec TEACHER. She was very nice. But my general cluelessness caused her despair because -- well, I was accident prone, clumsy, and hated to bake. HATED IT. And to be honest, was really bad at it. I didn't like measuring things (which, by the way, made learning to sew super fun), I've never really been a person who LOVES cookies and cakes, and I decided that it was okay not to know how to bake and, by extension, cook. In my 13 year old way, I imagined a flashy city life, comprised of reservations and take out. Whatever.
As I got older, I realized that ... um, that wouldn't work. I tried a couple of times to cook and became very proficient at lasagna, which was my "go to, fancy meal" and could make a salad and boil pasta. It wasn't much, I knew, but it would get me by.
Then the Food Network showed up thanks to my local cable provider.
I was mesmerized.
Those people could COOK. They looked like they were having fun. They could cook AND talk! And their food -- it was pretty!
I was jealous. Suddenly, not really knowing how to cook didn't seem like something to be weirdly proud of. It seemed ... sad. But by then, my not-cooking was sort of a thing. Like, "Oh, Danielle doesn't cook."
I would think, when people said things like that, "But I would kind of like to."
One fateful afternoon, I was at my mom's house and she said, "You have to see this new show on the food channel. It's this woman who makes meals in, like, 30 minutes."
Which is how I was introduced to Rachael Ray.
People hate Rachael Ray. She's too perky. She's too chatty. She's not a real chef.
Here's what I loved about her immediately: She looked like a regular person. She talked like a regular person. And at one point, she leaned toward the counter, looked directly at the camera, and said, "EVERYONE can learn how to cook."
Even a hopeless case like me.
I went into the other room, fired up the computer, and printed off the recipe for what she had made. Then I went home to stare down my kitchen.
"Okkkaaaay," I thought. "Everyone can learn how to cook? Let's see."
And it was awesome.
Which brings me to the soup.
It's been some years and miles between the first time I saw 30 Minute Meals and today. I've actually become a pretty good cook, and I cook a lot. However, until a few weeks ago, I'd never made soup.
My MOM made soup. My mother made (and makes) the best soup ever. It's so good. It's so -- Mom. I didn't know how to make it and was kind of afraid to ask. Until last Thanksgiving, when I finally realized that it would be fun to learn, and that learning to make Mom's soup? Didn't make it less special. It made it MORE special.
I have made the two soups she taught me to make abut 3 times each in the past four weeks. I eat a LOT of soup. My recent adventures and successes in soupland have also managed to reaffirm my love for cooking, because nothing tastes better than something you've made yourself.
Unless, of course, your mom makes it.