I admit, I have something of an unholy love for all things Gordon Ramsay.
I have been indulging in his programs nearly nightly since I became unemployed.
I know a lot of people think he's a jerk. I don't. I see him as a man who is committed to standards, and he gets upset when people don't hold themselves to a high standard.
I can respect that. A lot.
I hold myself to standards that I consider to be unreasonably high at times. I am so hard on myself that I get angry when I am criticized by others, not because they are challenging my genius, but because I've already heard the critique in my own mind.
But anyway, throughout all of my struggles to find out what kinds of foods my son and I could eat, I lost my passion for cooking somewhere along the way.
I've always enjoyed cooking. I grew up in my grandmother's kitchen, who was a full blooded Italian woman. Until I was 10 years old, I lived below her with my parents, brother, and sister in a duplex. I sat next to her while she chopped salads and baked nut breads. During holiday baking sessions, my siblings and I would pound up and down the stairs all day long, carefully sorting a dozen varieties of cookies into tins with waxed paper between the layers, to await Christmas.
As time went on, I learned how to cook without making any of the recipes I'd known and loved since I was a child. I remember that I used to be so proud, making my grandmother's Easter bread recipe, passed down through the generations. That all went away.
And as time went on, I think I became a little bit embarrassed by it.
One day, my husband wanted to try something I made for my son and myself. I let him try it, expecting that he would hate it. After all, I didn't think of it as really cooking. I was just making food for my son and myself. It wasn't anything special.
Well, he liked it. A lot.
I started to think that maybe my new, simple recipes and methods of cooking might not be that bad.
Around this time, Gordon Ramsay entered my life.
Through watching Kitchen Nightmares (I far prefer the BBC's edition), Gordon constantly urged restauranteurs to keep their recipes simple. At some point during the program, he would start to cook. And nine times out of ten, the recipe would be something that I could actually make and eat, with few adjustments. When he described his broccoli soup recipe as just broccoli and water, I was amazed.
And I started to feel proud of the food I made again.
A week or so ago, I finally succeeded in making a piece of salmon that wasn't overcooked. I put garlic butter on it. And my husband, who HATES fish in all forms, actually tried it. And he LIKED it!
Today, I sauteed some asparagus and leftover chicken in garlic butter. It wasn't quite right, so I added some goat cheddar to it. That did the trick. It tasted wonderful! I will have to work on the proportions, but there was some real potential there.
I'm no longer afraid to experiment, and if something tastes good, I trust myself.
I don't have fancy pans or fancy ingredients. I cook a lot of things in my $2 nonstick pan from Ikea. But I can pull together ingredients right from my pantry or fridge, and make something that tastes good.
And I am starting to find that pride again.