Thursday, August 16, 2007

Learning to cook

No, not my experience of that process; Maybe I'll write about that some other time. Nope, this is another Andrew tale...

A year or so ago Andrew got the bug to bake a cake. I've long held it as a great truth that every boy should know how to cook. This isn't really a manifestation of pro-feminist sympathies so much as the practical realisation that at some time or another everyone is going to be called upon to prepare a meal. How much better if Andrews abilities extend beyond the tossing of a steak onto a grill?

I note, with interest, that Morgans cooking ability is nil. Admittedly she was fourteen and full of teenage apathy when I joined this family but I can't recall her ever preparing a meal or even making suggestions. Now, a year out of home and a mother she *still* can't cook any further than reading the instructions on a microwave meal. Sign of the times?

So when Andrew got the bug to learn something about cooking I was all for it. Cakes are a pretty easy start, with the added bonus of a sugar buzz as reward! I didn't even mind when he wanted to start with packet brownies; baby steps. At least he'd learn to read the instructions. I also suspected it might be better for him to have success with his first essay into the culinary arts; my own first attempt was met with both failure and corporal punishment. But what the heck, I was six years old and it was possibly unwise of me to start an hour before the rest of the house arose, only to be discovered in a mess of butter and flour, shredded coconut and milk on the kitchen floor!

So he read the instructions, carefully, or so he thought. The recipe includes all the dry ingredients already measured and blended in a bag. All you have to do is add water and some vegetable oil, stir it all up, pour it into a pan and bake for whatever number of minutes at temperature (I don't remember those details).

I think this was the first time Andrew realised that cakes can contain vegetable oil; he seemed to think that was only for frying. But we assured him it wasn't a misprint; you really do put vegetable oil into the mix! Somewhat doubtfully he returned to the kitchen.

Oven preheated, he was ready. Poured the mix into the pan and slipped it into the oven. The instructions indicated something in the order of 25 minutes baking time, which I'm sure were the longest 25 minutes of his life as he anxiously watched the clock!

When the time was up he eagerly removed the pan, anticipating hot, fresh, brownies. What he found was a panful of sludge! Hmmm, time for a postmortem. The recipe had called for two tablespoons of vegetable oil; by some odd mental process he'd turned that into two cups! I reckon you could have fried chips in the result.

I swear I didn't laugh! I swear I was as supportive as it's in my nature to be. But somehow he hasn't felt the desire to try his hand at cooking since then. Heck, it was only a couple of bucks wasted; I smoke more than that in an afternoon.

Some people are so easily discouraged.

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