My Kitchen, My Kingdom

When (food) magazines want to show you the happy togetherness of cooking together, they show you a huge kitchen with many people making even more food. When you want to hurt me and make me uncomfortable, you can use the same image. Get out of my kitchen. I’m very self-conscious about cooking and baking. This is largely due to my father. He used to be a chef du cuisine, he loves everything that involves food and he couldn’t not give a lecture about it to save his life. He doesn’t believe in recipes or following them, instead only trusts his nose and fingertips (calloused ones, because he uses them to test temperature as well). As soon as he steps into the kitchen, I tense up. To be safe, I only cook at my boyfriend’s or when I’m sure my father works late.

U-shaped kitchen with no one in it.
How it should be: all for me.

Another reason is that cooking and baking is something I want to do for fun. Scuttle around the kitchen, humming and dancing, cleaning and tasting. I never like to have someone hovering over my shoulder, but when pans are involved, I effectively hate it. Stay out of my sand box.

But now it is time to change, because my best friend invited me for a night full of cooking and eating. Every person who comes will take a course and show others how to make it. It’s everything I don’t like, but she’s so euphoric about it that I can’t say no. Last night I invited my boyfriend into the kitchen to get used to people on my turf. But just to be safe, I picked dessert for the night of “kitchen-fun.” It doesn’t need as many pans, knives or other things I could possibly hurt people with.


Do you love having a kitchen full of (little) helpers or are you more of a solo cook as well? And any tips on how I’m going to survive six people hovering?

By freckle [M]

Freckle can't decide between writing fact or fiction, so she does both, on a very regular basis, and sometimes even for money.

12 replies on “My Kitchen, My Kingdom”

My kitchen. Mine. Get out.

The sucky part is that my boyfriend is actually quite a good cook. But he pisses me off with his lack of knowledge about what utensils to use (or NOT TO USE) when using various pots and pans. HIS nonstick skillet is trashed because he uses a metal spatula when cooking with it. Whereas MINE is still in near perfect condition after 3 years of only me using it.

We just won’t get in to how I’ve yet to forgive him for the giant scratch he put in one of my favorite cake pans because, you guessed it, he ignored my pleas to not use a metal spatula to get food out of it. Never mind he used a CAKE PAN to bake his chicken patties.

I hate sharing my kitchen. No one uses my stuff right and then I’m cranky because of it. So I’m totally a solo cook / baker. I’m not a pro, but damn it, I’m good.

My boyfriend and I just moved in together, and we quickly discovered that we CANNOT cook together. We both love to cook, and we both have very strong opinions on the correct way to do things. Cooking solo is the only way to avoid stressful backseat-cooking attempts.

Now, cooking with my friends or little sister? Totally cool. Whether they’re just hanging out or actually co-creating, we all get along fine because it’s fun rather than serious.

I can cook with my boyfriend, but we definitely have to have a “lead chef.” It’s more like “I cook, he helps” or vice-versa. Which means when I’m in charge, I delegate to him and we do it my way. When he’s in charge, he delegates to me. It allows us to share the experience without clashing constantly over how to do things.

He is not ever allowed to wash my non-stick pans though, because I am afraid.

I think in the future we might attempt something like that- that’s how my roommates and I did it in college and it worked pretty well. But we’re not pushing it yet- I recently observed that he doesn’t salt the pasta water, and things are tense.

Oh non-stick pans, I did not expect so much anxiety about them! Boyfriend is actually better about washing them right than I am, but I have terrifying visions of metal utensils being used in them by others. Life was simpler when I was using my dad’s old cast-off dishes not my own brand-new set.

Boyfriend is much too tense and on the clock for me to enjoy cooking with. We take turns to save me from head aches. When we have potato slices he wants to lie out every potato slice on the bottom of the pan. Like, next to each other. No wonder we always eat late if he’s in the kitchen /not frustrated at all

I don’t really mind having other people around when I cook, or with others (like my husband) cooking with me. So, keep that in mind with my comments.

I would choose a dessert that I have made often, and that isn’t terribly complicated. And, since you are supposed show others how to make it, I would practice doing just that. Maybe show your boyfriend?

For example, I make focaccia so often that I don’t even look at the recipe any more. If I were going to this event, I would probably choose the focaccia, but I would also still practice explaining how to make it.

And make sure you have all the right equipment for your recipe! In my example above, I would need a stand mixer, since I have physical limitations that prevent me from kneading.

My two cents.

I’m a solo baker type of gal, I can’t stand any other living species (no human, no cats and no dog allowed) in the kichen when I’m baking . The kitchen becomes my sanctuary and I usually bake to relax and forget the outside world, for a few hours it’s only me and food. I taste, experiment, even create without having to deal with dirty looks from my family members wondering what kind of crazy things I’m doing or without having my mother telling me I’m doing it all wrong because baking is my thing.

However, once, my friend entered me in a baking contest without asking my permission and she was convinced she was doing me a favor, I really didn’t want to do it because I knew it would involve other people around baking really seriously (some of the contestant could have been on Top Chef) and judge who take baking even more seriously because they are professionals.

I ended doing it and I didn’t won because I didn’t bother trying to bake something over the top or complicated partly because I don’t know every recipe of every cake I’ve baked but mainly because I didn’t feel in my environment. Everyone was so stressed out by the clock ticking and focused on making everything look good rather than tasting good, I couldn’t bare it nor could I bare the judges looking over my shoulder and asking questions on why I did it like this and not like it’s supposed to be done etc.

My best advice for you would be to choose an easy recipe, something easy to make and to learn, nothing too fancy. Avoid showing off your skills so they won’t stress you out with tons of questions.

For me it depends on the person and what they’re doing in the kitchen. If they’re just there to sit and talk with me, okay welcome to my kitchen. Please sit on the stools provided and don’t get in the way. If they want to cook with me, that’s a whole other ballgame. I pretty much cook well only with my mother. Anybody else is not really welcome to cook with me because they interrupt my flow where my mother instinctively knows where I am and what I need (the reciprocal is the same, and I’m the only person she lets cook with her too). It’s really fun cooking with her. It’s like a giant orchestrated dance number, complete with cheesy music whenever Dad’s not home.

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