Recipes

A Desperate Plea from a Culinarily-Defective Jewish Mama

Here’s the thing, I’m a Jewish mother who can’t cook. I know, I know. I’m like the triathlete who can’t swim, the artist who can’t draw, the yogi who doesn’t meditate. It doesn’t make sense. Yet, here I am.

Even worse, I don’t really want to learn to cook. I want to want to learn, and I would love to be able to show up at a potluck with a fantastic lasagna or super creative salad – you know, the kind with toasted nuts or something.  Most importantly, I want to feed my daughters healthy, tasty meals without having a panic attack every time I think about making dinner.

I want to be that good, but I don’t want to suffer the growing pains that it will take to get there.

The good news is that my husband can cook. Oh, man, can that guy cook. He won my heart with his scrambled eggs, and his brisket melts in your mouth. Josh can make an entire Passover seder with barely a second thought, and every last bit of it is delicious (including his famous strawberry rhubarb sorbet). I might spend all day planning a meal, reading recipes, grocery shopping and cooking my sorry little heart out, and the results don’t even come close to what Josh can throw together in half an hour with just the ingredients in our cabinets.

But I am nothing if not moderately stubborn, and I am hell bent on learning how to cook more than just a few handfuls of meals. (Right now I can make decent fried eggs, lentil soup, and, I must say, kick-ass guacamole.  Also, I have gotten really good at cooking noodles, as they are just about the only thing my toddler will consistently eat.)

My biggest challenge is finding recipes that I can follow. Josh and I keep kosher – sort of.  (I prefer to call it faux-sher.)  So, recipes that include pork, shellfish, or milk and meat together are out. Also, recipes that use big words like “sauté,” “reduce,” or “broil” without explaining to me just what those words mean are also out.  (I’m still trying to figure out the difference between a blender and a food processor. And don’t get me started on the time I tried to make minestrone soup and couldn’t figure out what a leek was, or how to cut it. That required more than one phone call to my husband. At work. And no, I don’t want to talk about it.)

Yet here we are, at the start of a new year, and by God, I am going to learn to cook.  Amy’s recent post about her new year’s resolution is inspiring me. I am determined, by the end of this year, to be able to roast a chicken. And perhaps even make matzoh ball soup. I’ve found some great ideas here at Kveller, but I would also love to hear from you, dear readers.

What is your favorite source of recipes?  (Bonus points if they don’t include bacon or cheeseburgers, or sadly, bacon cheeseburgers.)  Help a pathetic Jewish Mama, and share your favorite websites, books, or even your best recipes.  And please, if you use fancy words, tell me what they mean.  My daughters, husband, and I will be most grateful.

Carla NaumburgCarla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker and writer. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Parents.com, PsychCentral.com, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Psychology Today. Her first book, Parenting in the Present Moment, was published by Parallax Press in October of 2014. She is currently writing a book on teaching mindfulness to children, which will be published by New Harbinger in late 2015. Carla grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Bay Area of California, and she currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and two young daughters. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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