“By Grabthar’s Hammer, I Shall Learn to Cook!”


This has been a long time coming… Eight months ago I bought the book pictured above with the intent of learning to cook. Then all hell…I mean…all Weird broke out, along with Steampunk Bible deadlines, and I never got around to a weekly schedule of cooking meals.

Now, I can cook an egg. I can make an omelette. I can make basic salmon without too much burning going on. But anything more complex has long been beyond me. Ann can attest to this, since the first meal I ever served her while we were dating was canned chili fortified with couscous, cheese, onions, and corn. The tablecloth and candles couldn’t create an ambiance in which this cement-like concoction took on some (or any) allure, to be honest, especially since the meal was being served in my crappy apartment on the seedy side of town.

However, at the time, the meal represented the height of my cullinary skills–indeed, it had been one of two staples of my college life, in part because you could make a lot of it and save the left-overs and eat off of it for days. The same cement-like texture seemed to make it last longer.

The second staple was a huge ball of pasta noodles mixed with a white cheese sauce and vegetables. This is a dish my sister and I made during the year or so that we shared an apartment while going to the University of Florida. Indeed, one of my most vivid memories of college life is of a big pot of this pasta in the kitchen sink to cool down while my sister and I looked out the window…across which blood was seeping because the neighbors had gotten into a fight on the landing above and someone was bleeding onto our window. Ah, college life.

So, culinary experiences of my own creation have been relatively, shall we say, limited, and thus this challenge.

The three meals for next week (M-W-F) will be:

—Trout with almonds
—Chicken Marengo
—Steak Provencale

All will be ready when Ann comes home from work. All will, I am sure, be magnificent creations, and I will be blogging about (and taking photos) of all three as a way of motivating myself to master the art of cooking.

At the end of the first week, I will evaluate my progress, and try to continue cooking three meals a week for at least the next month before deciding whether it’s hopeless or not. I’ll also mix in some of my mom’s recipes and some recipes from when I lived in Fiji as a child (corned beef in banana leaves with coconut—mmmmmmm).

Since this cookbook in particular has pictures of what the dish is supposed to look like, the juxtaposition of ideal and actual should be fairly amusing.

For example, here’s what the trout should look like. Wish me luck. This is a lot harder than writing a book or editing an anthology…



  1. says

    Hopefully, you’ll find cooking to be great fun and a stress-reliever. I know it serves as such for me. Maybe you’ll progress to sauteed and grilled foods in the near future as well?

  2. says

    read the recipe TWICE before you start. have veggies and other stuff prepped BEFORE you turn on the stove or oven. taste as you go. if you make something, and it’s gross, it might just be a crappy recipe, or maybe you discovered a spice you just don’t like.

    i guess what i’m trying to say is if it doesn’t go well at first, don’t be discouraged. Cooking is like writing – it takes practice and patience.

  3. GlenH says

    I second Red’s advice on having your ingredients prepped. It saves a lot of stress and makes it that much less likely that you’ll overcook/burn something.

  4. says

    Sometimes I think that the decision moment between me and my actual girl was some point two years ago, when I risked myself cooking her something. I just cooked her once, but it was unforgettable.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says

    Well, I take Ann out or bring home food or sometimes cook in a basic way. This is just trying to make an actual meal, as opposed to just food.