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From the Second Story column: Is cooking a learned hobby or a talent?

12:00 PM, Mar. 5, 2013  |  Comments
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Cooking: it's not the best thing I can do.

I've always wondered what makes a good cook. Is it the spices or seasonings that make the menu worthy of praise? Or is it a hidden talent that only a few people have - that gift of mixing the right ingredients and cooking them at the correct temperature for the perfect amount of time.

I don't really know.

Don't think I haven't tried my hand at baking a scrumptious meal. I have. But I tend to over-bake at high temperature.

For example: I like to make banana bread, but I over-bake it until it's dry and hard. I do the same thing with the brownies, except that they get burnt around the edges.

I do have cookbooks, and I use them, and I know how to read directions, too. But something happens beyond my control; I haven't the slightest idea of what it is.

It's also really frustrating knowing I can't cook on the stove either - I've tried that, too. The scrambled eggs get over-cooked, and the French toast will have a thin burnt layer on it when I'm done. I'm surprised that the fire alarm didn't shriek; there was enough smoke from making French toast to make me cough.

Cripes, what does it take to cook anything without ruining it?

I remember boiling eggs almost 20 years ago. I lived on the fifth floor then and could smell burnt eggs all the way down on the first floor. I forgot they were on the stove, and they boiled dry.

When I finally arrived home after speeding - I remembered the boiling eggs that were burning - I found black eggs and was afraid they would explode. I didn't have a fire alarm in the apartment; if I had, the firemen would've made it there before me.

None of my neighbors seemed alarmed. But I'm sure they didn't appreciate smelling burnt eggs for days; it's a raunchy smell, hard to get rid of. I certainly didn't eat boiled eggs for a long time.

Fast forward to present day: I still haven't mastered the art of cooking.

Don't mention that I need to take a cooking class; I don't think it'll help. There's a knack to being a great cook. I just don't think I've got what it takes. I do have a nice oven, and it does have a timer. I'll just stick with the basics: making sandwiches, cooking soup and using the microwave.

Wish me luck.

June Thompson is a correspondent for Neillsville.

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