Monday, May 28, 2007

Efficiency kitchen

A confession:

I need to learn to share.

When i cook, i am very efficient. It's all planned in my head for the timing. While the water is heating for the pasta (which we never call noodles anymore, what snobs we be), i will chop the mushrooms and throw the chicken breasts in the oven. While the pasta cooks, i will be sauteing the mushrooms and washing the spinach. You get the idea. I am parallel processing, not serial processing. So that it is all ready close to the same time.

This process, which is all in my brain, makes it hard for the Mister and i to cook together. My anal-retentive detail-oriented self gets in the way. I try and put on my mellow hat, but it's all an act, inside i am twitching to run the show.

When there is a moment of quiet, the Mister will go and sit down, while i will get on with the next thing, even washing up a few things in any cooking down time. I have the curse of seeing the whole process, from years of practice. And since cooking is okay, but not really a passion of mine (unlike eating, which is), i want to get it all done in the shortest amount of time possible.

I realize how annoying i am, and i am trying to do something about it, but it's HARD! Because i am efficient, but it's also no fun for him to cook with me.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm pretty much like that, too. I really enjoy cooking though, except when I don't feel like it.

Flip gets in my way when he is trying to help. Sometimes, I will sit him down at the table to mince garlic, but otherwise, it's my show.

Too many cooks spoil the broth, you know.

Jenn said...

I'm so like that too. I can't be in the kitchen while Darryl cooks because it's so frustrating. There is a best way to cook a meal.


Lynn said...

My dh loves to cook. I look at cooking as a chore. My dh doesn't really like to do dishes and clean up...I don't mind either. Over the years, my we have developed a system...who ever cooks, the other one washes the dishes, that way we don't get in each others seems to work for us.

Anonymous said...

Every time I walk in the kitchen I have a helper (now two) dragging a chair over to the counter. What a process. I have to re-think everything in order to come up with some part of it that they can do without getting cut or burnt (or ruining it). I hope at least that they either love to cook or can do it skillfully.

And if Tony is home, I let him do it.

Anonymous said...

Me too for the seeing & knowing the whole process. My solution is to give up the kitchen several times a week and let someone else do the process and I get to sit and knit or nap. My newest rule is "whoever cooked doesn't have to clean". I enjoy that much more when I'm the one who cooks. But ya gotta be flexible once in awhile...Cece

QT said...

Oh yes - there are people who can cook together and those that just can't.

Most of the ones that can end up with their own show on the Food Network, BTW.

Can't you just put him in charge of the salad?

gr said...

Well, the other solution is grab a drink and sit at the table while HE does the cooking. But I understand, it is hard to share cooking duties when you are used to having the place to yourself.

Meno, hedgehog bowls are available if you want to have a look....mugs in a few days.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Boy-child keeps wanting me to teach him how to cook, and I would love to, but I can't figure out how to interrupt my perfectly timed sense of when to throw what in the oven or the hot water.

I rilly gotta figure that out.

Sanjay said...

No you are efficient and not annoying at all. *A* cooks liek you she is fast and efficient. When we cook together and is she is taking the lead, I just follow her instructions. :)
When I cook and I am not efficient, she stays out of my way or goes along with me.
This synergy or harmoony if you want to call it that has been achieved with a lot of trial and error. :)

AC said...

Me an the Mister have this worked out...I'll cook and he mows and keeps my knives sharp. It works.

I'm like you, the cooking thing is a well oiled machine and I don't like to be messed with. I am so bossy and particular that no one wants to help me! Which is fine. I generally leave the kitchen clean with only the dinnerware to wash when the meal is ready too. Maybe you and I could work together, like those Two Hot Tamales girls on Food Network.

Susanne said...

I have to admit my cooking is nothing like a "well-oiled machine". It takes me ages even to reheat something. When my husband and I cook together I sit at the table and chop and he cooks. He is much better than me. Unlike you though, he doesn't like to cook alone.

When I'm the cook in charge things aren't going so smooth since I'm not used to shared duty. But I'm learning. I think we should be able to adjust to helpers. Otherwise no one will ever help.

mrschili said...

Mr. Chili and I have very different techniques in the kitchen, too. Having recognized this, we split the work - he'll do the veggies and set the table whilst I prepare the main dish and dessert, say - or we'll just trade off (I'll cook tonight, you wash up and tomorrow, we'll switch). Plus, there are some meals that ONLY he makes (cheese souffle, for example, or anything on the grill) and some things that ONLY I make (spaghetti sauce and most desserts). We've managed, in the 16 years we've been together, to figure this particular sticking point out.

Maggie said...

My husband and I are both alphas. So we devised a plan that works for us. One person gets to be the lead chef and the other acts as assistant. We have no qualms about asking the assistant to do this or that, chop this. That way we get to be cooking together without tripping over each other. But we make sure we trade off often enough that one person doesn't feel like the lesser all the time. Mostly we do this on weekends.

I have to admit though on weeknights when I'm cooking to time dinner for when he comes in the door (that way we have time for a family game or something later - not at all a 50's household tradition thing) that I get in a groove and I love doing it all myself without interruption.

Bob said...

our kitchen is tiny. that precludes almost entirely cooking together. Laura occasionally asks me to help with a specific task (deboning a chicken, some food prep) but usually we are in each other's way - so cooking is solo by necessity.

Marsha said...

I cannot stand to have anyone help me in the kitchen, takes more time to explain what I want than to do it myself. I like things to be a certain way. My husband hates cooking and so there is no problem there, but the teenage daughter, that one I need to work on.

Toni said...

Cook together??? Never! We take turns! Others get in my way!

Joan said...

You and my husband must have been raised in the same kitchen. After 24 years of togetherness, I've finally learned not to get between Hubby and his culinary plans when it comes to making dinner. I just wait from him to call me to tell me dinner is ready and I'm there with fork in hand.

Cagey said...

I LOATHE cooking with someone else. When I cook, I am in Full-On Mode - watch out. While things stew, simmer or fry, I am washing whatever got dirtied in the process.

Also, I have to have the kitchen completely clean before I even begin in the first place. My husband doesn't understand why.

liv said...

Oh, dear. Cooking with me would be a nightmare for you. I work best with someone behind me doing the cleaning. But, if you elected to clean for me, I'd make sure you had a bangin' bottle of red.

Anonymous said...

It freaks me out (in a good way) that the more posts of yours I read, the more I learn and enjoy about myself.

I have never identified why I get irritated when my husband tries to help me cook. Thank you!!! (Oh, and thank you from him too, even though he doesn't know it yet!)

patches said...

Reading this post is like seeing my reflection in a fun house mirror. Some of my flaws are magnified and some are diminished. I've found a pre-dinner glass of wine diffuses the tension for both of us.

I do consider myself fortunate that my other half wants to pitch in. These days we take turns playing leader. When he's out of town, I seldom spend more than twenty minutes preparing for one sucks.

meno said...

hearts, i love for the Mister to help, or i will help him, but SOMEONE has to be i charge!

jenn, yes there is, and we know it!

lynn, sounds like you have come up with a system that works.

de, i remember those years, when cooking took twice as long because of the help. Now i have to browbeat Em into helping.

cece, i am happy to sit on the sidelines too. I just need to remember not to give advice.

qt, salad? hell no! That's my favorite part. He does do the grilling though. Talk about gender roles.

gary, i am good at watching. :) I'll be over in a bit to see the bowls.

mona, i know, i know. You want them to learn and be a part of the process, but you want to get it done too.

sanjay, the Mister doesn't want anyone to be in charge, he wants to do it "together." I honestly don't know how to do that.

ac, i can cook with other people, as long as one of us is directing the action, i am fine with it. I like your division of labor!

susanne, i like to have company, just not trying to get in the way of MY plan! :)

meno said...

mrs.chili, separate tasks are very workable, i can do that too. But i had a child so someone else would set the table. :)

maggie, that would work for me. I just need to have it clear who is in charge.

bob, so what you are saying is that we need a smaller kitchen! Good idea. :)

marsha, here's my evil plan; During the summer Em has to make dinner three nights a week. She hates this, but she has to learn to cook someday. HA!

toni, i like your attitude!

joan, i'd be there with my fork too. If someone else wants to cook, i am all over that.

cagey, wow. You are even more like me than me. I can't start cooking in a really messy kitchen, but i am happy to start in a slightly messy one.

liv, you are on!

chili pepper, glad to be of service. :)

patches, wine, wine is good. When it's just dinner for me i revel in the vegetables. And take out.

SUEB0B said...

I can't stand to watch someone with poor knife skills. All that random hacking and slashing drives me NUTS! I am hard-pressed not to say anything.

Lee said...

You can come over and take over my kitchen any day!

jen said...

where does the wine fit in? maybe it would help all around?

i do exactly the same thing, btw.

Tink said...

Glad I don't have that problem. Hoop is wonderful enough not to cook. Ever. Unless it's cookies.

Yes, that was bitterness talking. *Hangs head*

Nancy Dancehall said...

Here's my policy:

My kitchen. MINE! Back you fools!

It's simple, and it works!

Dick said...

My own cooking abilities are pretty much limited to Nally's chili and Papa Murphy's pizza. I can do a little on the BBQ grill, if I don't burn it. Pat says my best help in the kitchen comes from leaving the kitchen to her & just talking, from the table. But I do the dishes & empty the dishwasher. And I fill the wine glasses.

meno said...

suebob, plus i am scared they will cut themselves and get blood on my dinner. Eww.

lee, how about we just order a pizza?

jen, i knew it wasn't only me!

tink, ooooh. Ever? Never? Trouble in paradise. Does he do takeout i hope?

nancy, that is simple! I'll have a sign made up for my kitchen with those words of wisdom on it.

dick, you can cook with me anyday! I always need a wine glass filler.

Em said...

We suffer the same curse. My wife sees the "big picture" and can cook without recipes or detailed instructions. I work from the recipe, doing one thing at a time. Drives her crazy!

Ortizzle said...

I like to paraphrase the old adage 'too many cooks spoil the soup' to 'TWO many cooks spoil the soup.' Basically, it doesn't matter who cooks, as long as it isn't more than one person in the kitchen. (Especially if it is another woman, such as your mom or your MIL!)

And if anybody should ask if you need help, just say, 'Yes, please, you can set the table.'

Lucia said...

I thought that was how people who knew how to cook cooked. I can't cook worth a darn, so never get the timing thing...or chopping thing...or boiling thing...or...what was I writing about again?

Mama P said...

I so get where you're at. I find wine helps.

Anonymous said...

I suffer from the same affliction as you, Meno except that I love to cook. G makes drinks and washes up.

(confession: I always rewash the dishes the following morning, slight OCD at work here.I've never told anyone that.)

Sienna said...

Oh my goodness, I found you again, i thought it was you, you are the INFP type personality.

That is us, are what you are...all will be well for your poor Mister, do what I do occasionally, cook naked, it is soooo many brownie points...he forgets all that has gone before...

NB Not in front of guests, they just don't get it!

gr said...

Sneaky, aren't you?

Esereth said...

You have no email. Why do you have no email? I have no email either, how are we supposed to talk and be friends?

I can't make it that day. I am sorely, sorely disappointed. I don't want it to happen again. So we should start being email buddies.

Lee said...

Sounds perfect!

Antonia said...

Ian & I lived together as just-good-friends for a decade before getting together. Most of those ten years we lived with all sorts of other people in a big rickety house, and went out with the wrong people.

Ian was the only person I could stand to be in the kitchen when I was cooking. I should have known he was the One. Actually, I think I always knew he was the One.

Now we're together, I cook maybe three times a year. Ha!

thailandchani said...

I'm the same. Prefer the kitchen to myself if I'm cooking. Navigating space is not particularly pleasant. I'm purely goal-directed in that sense. :)



meno said...

em, augh! That must take forever!

ortizzle, i don't mind if other people help, as long as i can tell them what to do. :)

lucia, i'm not much of a cook either. My goal is always to get out of the kitchen as fast as possible, hence the organization.

mamap, wine helps many things.

sally, ha ha, i often re-wash the pots and pans that the Mister washes too. They are still greasy, ick!

pam, cooking naked? Not when i'm stir frying!

gary, i'm not sneaky, i'm resourceful!

esereth, your comment puzzles me. I do have e-mail. I also don't know what day you are referring to, as i had just mentioned August.

lee, :)

antonia, Compatibility in the kitchen is important. Or else restaurants!

chani, you and me both!

Caro said...

It's like reading about my own life. I've solved the problem : I hardly cook anymore.

Mother of Invention said...

I'd just be incredibly happy to have someone help cut up stuff, or sit and talk to me while I do that...or even come up with an idea for meals!!!

urban-urchin said...

my husband and I are both like that.
I think even if we had a massive gourmet kitchen we'd still get in each other's way. The lead in the cooking for that meal tends to relegate the other to prep work and it works out for the best

capacious said...

I was a good cook before I met my husband. I wasn't crazy ambitious, but I enjoyed making dinner and was often pleased with the results.

He is not a chef but he went to cooking school and he insists on proper knife technique and all sorts of annoying crap. I have definitely learned a lot from him, not to mention all that FoodTV that's on all the time in our house. Even the boys know how to make a bearnaise sauce now.

Early in our marriage, there were a lot of hurt feelings floating around our kitchen. It was great he made dinner (it saved my life when the kids were small and I was doing day care in our house) but he didn't have to make me feel like it was because I wasn't capable or because the food I made sucked.

So I made dessert when people came over. I like making dessert, and I'm good at it.

Now he works late a lot of the time so I get to cook dinner night after night after night. I find that I really wish he was doing it.

Isn't life just full of wonderful little ironies?