Kitchen Control Freak

5 Dec

I’m dating someone new. We’re still in that lovely honeymoon phase, which means we’ve yet to  fight, or to don sweatpants with elasticized ankles in front of the other. It’s going really well, and I’d like to stretch out this part of the relationship, where everything is shiny and new, for as long as possible. Which is why, when my boyfriend came to my house to cook me dinner the other night, I had to check myself.

That’s right. You read that correctly. I have the kind of boyfriend who is considerate enough to make me dinner when I’ve had a really long day. Not only that, but he made the 30 minute drive from his place to mine to cook this meal. Men who don’t cook – make a note. Women who don’t cook, you should make a note, too. This is an all-around wonderful thing to do for another person, and it’s really pretty fun if you stop thinking of it as a chore.

So what, exactly, is my problem?

It wasn’t the meal. The food turned out fine. We had a nice, healthy weeknight dinner. Boneless skinless chicken breasts with veggies and brown rice. All good stuff.

My problem was that someone was ferreting around through my kitchen and my kitchen stuff. Someone other than me, going through my pots and pans and utensils and drawers. It was nerve-wracking. My kitchen is my domain. That isn’t to say that it’s perfect, or even organized. This is the mess that is my utensil drawer. I can’t even bring myself to show you my disaster of a pantry. It’s imperfect, but it’s mine, and I know my way around it.

utensil2

During every step of his cooking process, I wanted to suggest a different, better way of doing it. He chose a small cast-iron skillet for sauteeing the chicken, prompting my suggestion for a larger, stainless steel saute pan. When he settled on a smaller stainless pan, I couldn’t stop thinking about how there was too much chicken for it’s size, and that the pan would be overcrowded and cause the chicken to steam rather than saute.

When he defrosted both of the enormous chicken breasts on a tiny salad plate in the microwave, the edges of the raw chicken hanging dangerously over the sides, I proposed that he transfer them to a full-sized plate. He didn’t. I think I had nightmares about salmonella-induced food poisoning that night.

I nearly flipped when he tossed the rough, inedible ends of a bunch of asparagus into the garbage disposal instead of into the trash bin. He lives for stuff like that, but for me, those should go straight into the garbage can. Why put the stress on the disposal?

He stirred a pot of vegetables using just the wooden handle of one of my spatulas, without the rubber head. I take them apart for washing. The rubber piece goes in the dishwasher for sanitizing (that hot pink thing in the center of the pic above is one of them), but the wooden handles get hand washed so that they don’t warp. I don’t bother to put them back together for storage. Both pieces go into the utensil drawer on their own until I’m ready to use the it the next time. So, there he is, standing over a saucepan of mixed veg, just stirring away with my Le Creuset wooden stick, which he found in the utensil drawer, probably right next to an actual wooden spoon and 3 or 4 metal spoons, and my mind is just racing.

What is he doing? And why is he doing that? I’ve been to culinary school, I’ve watched far too much Food Network, and that is NOT how I would be doing this! My way is clearly better! Not only better, but my way is CORRECT.

It took a lot of mental effort to not jump out of my chair and take over. Finally, about three-quarters of the way through the cooking process, I realized that I should just shut up and let the man cook. He’s 37 years old, and he hasn’t starved yet. Clearly he is capable of getting dinner onto the table. And even more important, he was doing something to take care of me, which is amazing. If he is ever nice enough to offer again, I’ll leave the room while he works, and only offer cooking tips if he actually asks for them.

But I will bring the $300 Shun chef knife into the other room with me. No one else comes near that delicate blade!

7 Responses to “Kitchen Control Freak”

  1. D.J. Paris December 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Honored to have made your blog! Next time I’ll cook some lobster thermidor. (quickly Googling what the word thermidor means)

  2. injeannieous December 6, 2013 at 2:35 am #

    My darling husband rarely, if ever cooks, but he does do the dishes. I never can find anything in the drawers because he has yet, after a year in our condo, learn where or why this or that, goes here or there. You did great Beth, both in restraint and gratitude. :)

    • Beth Somers December 6, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Beggars can’t be choosers – a man who does dishes is a pretty great thing, even if you never see your whisk again!

  3. Yvonne December 10, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    We are all possessive over our areas :) Even though my husband an I cook together all the time we are always chiming in on how we would do it differently, better, ect. But I often have to shut my mouth and be thankful he helps out and remember my way isn’t always best. It’s jut simply my way :)

    • Beth Somers December 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      Well said, Yvonne! You are always cooking in your house, so best to be Zen about it!

  4. Faith December 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Beth – I stumbled across your site because I noticed you started following me on Twitter (thanks, btw! :) ) It’s absolutely hilarious that the first post I read of yours was this one because let me tell you, girl… I could COMPLETELY relate!! I also went to culinary school, obsess over food, my kitchen, my (many) utensils, where things go, how they’re stored, how to use them, etc, etc, etc. When my ex-bf and I first met a few years back, he told me after he’d prepared dinner for the first time that I made him nervous! Apparently I’d been staring him down and watching his every move, and he was constantly in fear that he was doing things wrong (which he was haha!). I had to explain to him that I didn’t necessarily care how he accomplished things, so long as the finished product was good (which it was!), but that there were a few tips/tricks/hints I was hoping I could share with him in order to make his job easier (i.e. how to properly cut an onion, how to quickly peel garlic, and to please ensure all seeds from bell peppers are cleaned off the pepper because there’s nothing worse than biting on one, etc.). Admittedly I’m also a control freak, ESPECIALLY when it concerns being in the kitchen, so that made me stepping away from MY kitchen and MY tools that much harder.

    So… the next time he cooked for me, he quickly shoved a (very) large glass of wine in my hand, he handed me a book he’d picked up for me and then he gently pushed me into the living room, out of sight from the kitchen. It took A LOT for me to ignore what he was doing, knowing full well he was likely doing something wrong or misusing a tool and potentially ruining it or wearing it down, but I quickly realized that the experience we shared together was far more important than a silly kitchen tool. Eventually we were able to cook side-by-side and that was a really fun thing. I completely agree that finding a guy (or girl) that can cook is a definite bonus. I do all the cooking, so when I find a guy that enjoys it I feel immensely blessed.

    P.S. I agree on the Shun chef knife. Ain’t nobody touching my super nice tools! ;-)

    • Beth Somers December 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      Faith, I totally get it! I want you to know that we’re not alone. I’ve gotten several messages from people (men and women alike) who relate to this post. It’s been fun to commiserate! And I hear you. I’m looking forward to getting to that place where we can cook side-by-side and enjoy it. That will be a lot of fun.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Great to connect with you!

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