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MANDY FLYNN: Not cooking up any excuses

FEATURES COLUMN: One apron short of a decent meal

Mandy Flynn

Mandy Flynn

With it being so close to Thanksgiving and all I can’t help but let my mind wander to what it might be like if only I could do one little thing — cook. I could make all kinds of excuses why I can’t seem to make a decent meal, but who would I be kidding? Therefore, I will spare any mincing of words and proclaim outright that I’m not a cook. And I’m kind of OK with that.

My inability doesn’t keep me from dreaming of a day when I might be hostess to a real Thanksgiving meal that I cooked all by myself, though. In my daydreams, the entire family is sitting around a long wooden table and — as I turn around to them holding a steaming, caramel colored turkey on a big, white platter — they all ooh and aah and smile at me like they’ve never seen such a sight. Funny thing is, there are always a couple of extra people in my daydream and they all look like the Waltons. In fact, now that I think of it, in my fantasy I look like Olivia Walton.

I guess it’s better than grandpa.

Olivia Walton was always making applesauce cake and split pea soup and, although I’m not a big fan of split pea soup, I’m sure it was delicious. She cooked things up on a big cast iron stove and always wore an apron. Maybe that’s why I’m not such a good cook — I don’t have an apron, though I hardly think that could be it entirely. Bad cooks need aprons, too, though.

I’ve heard it explained that a bad cook is a person who makes food that tastes bad, and cooks who make food that is good for you but tastes bad aren’t necessarily bad cooks because sometimes food that is good for you is supposed to taste bad.

Like tofu. And brussel sprouts. But that’s only my opinion.

I don’t know how long it took my husband to determine I am not that great of a cook.

Maybe it was in our first year of marriage when we had spaghetti or tacos 20 out of 31 days of the month. Unless it was April, June, September or November, which only have 30 days, which made it worse. And February? It was bad.

Maybe it was the first time I put something on the stove to cook and I forgot it was there until we smelled smoke. Or maybe it was the first time I tried to pretend I hadn’t burnt the homemade soup and tried to cover up the smokey taste with cheese and sour cream. It didn’t work the first time, and it didn’t work the last time, which was, by the way, about two weeks ago.

I tried to blame the last time I overcooked bread on the fact that I had a new oven. But, as I was so kindly reminded, the oven is only as good as the cook.

I suppose it’s better to be a bad cook and own up to it than to be a bad cook who thinks they are a good cook. What may be even worse is a bad cook who no one acknowledges as being bad, but eats the food anyway. The emperor has no clothes, maybe? More like the cake tastes like bird poop but we’re going to eat it anyway and pretend it’s delicious.

I’m grateful my family has never told me something I’ve cooked was great when it wasn’t.

At least I don’t think they have. Well, I’m pretty sure they haven’t. You’d think that a husband who asks, “Is rice supposed to be crunchy?” as he’s eating his dinner wouldn’t just say something to make me feel good. Would he?

Maybe I should ask.

Sigh. I bet Olivia Walton never made rice that was crunchy or soup that tasted smokey.

And even if she did, I bet John and Erin and Mary Ellen wouldn’t say a word.

Good night, John Boy. I’m going to buy me an apron.

Email foolproof recipes to columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.