Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ambiguously dexterous

Many years, a co-worker gave me a recipe. I’ve made the dish in question exactly twice. . .

because, even though I used a food processor, it took me an hour and a half.

A few years ago, I showed the recipe to one of my best friends—and she told me that she could make the same dish in half that amount of time.

That’s when I finally understood why I hate cooking—my limited fine-motor coordination makes working in the kitchen not a pleasure, but a time-consuming and onerous chore.

Call it fine-motor coordination or manual dexterity, as you will, but, whatever you call it, I simply don’t have it. Just about anything that I do with my hands takes me forever. I always needed an eternity to complete handwritten homework. Essay tests were a nightmare—I had to practically kill myself to write quickly enough to finish the test in the allotted time. I gave up mending my own hems a few years ago, even though I do beautiful nearly-invisible stitching, when I realized that mending a hem could take me as long as two hours. Back in my job-hunting days, I had to spend literally hours in front of a computer before an interview, trying to rev up my typing speed.

Frankly, one of the few advantages of working for my parsimonious current non-profit employer is that, since they can’t afford to pay decent salaries, they can’t afford to be too fussy, either—never once in the nearly five years that I’ve worked here has anyone tested my typing speed.

On the other hand . . .

One of my colleagues was scandalized when I told her that I was buying take-out for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), saying that she would never do such a thing for a holiday.

My former office buddy S., now retired, routinely cooked for her children and grandchildren, and, when she used to describe to me the dishes that she made, I felt as if I barely knew how to find a kitchen.

And now, at the women’s Tehillim (Psalm) group, nearly every Wednesday or Thursday, one of the women will ask another, “What are you making for Shabbat (Sabbath)?”

I live in dread of the day that someone asks me that question.

What am I supposed to say?



Blogger Shira Salamone said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sun Nov 12, 02:43:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sun Nov 12, 03:23:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

yank, if you want to advertise, pay for it.

Sun Nov 12, 08:55:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Naomi Chana said...

"I don't know yet" is probably fine for Wednesday. "Something quick" may also work for Thursday. Or, y'know, "We're both really busy -- I think takeout from [your favorite kosher place]." If you're really worried, of course, you can always lie and claim you're going over a friend's. :)

I've been known to do the elaborate multi-course Shabbat thing -- although I only trot out the soup and the appetizers and the dessert for holidays -- but I also enjoy putting together easy, quick meals that still feel like a tiny celebration. Why else would God have created boneless skinless chicken breasts? ;)

Sun Nov 12, 11:12:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Naomi Chana, thanks for the suggestions.

You ain't kiddin' about the lying part. We rarely get invited because we rarely invite anymore--Hubster CPA's tax and accounting and college-accounting-instructor paperwork have so thoroughly taken over the apartment
that just clearing enough off the dining room table and chairs to make room for *2* of us to eat in dignity on Shabbat and Yom Tov has become a major chore. When our son is home from college, it gets even more interesting.

My favorite quick and easy meal is fresh fish. Just rinse it, dump it into a microwavable (sp?) pot, squeeze half a lemon onto it, added your favorite herbs and/or spices, add an inch or two of water, and microwave for roughly seven minutes or until you can "flake" the fish with a fork. There's something to be said for being able to eat a dairy dessert on Erev Shabbat.

Mon Nov 13, 06:49:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I just do frozen food- quick, and I cook just enough to feel like I cooked (plus, I don't live in a town where there's kosher takeout etc).

I especially adore Ratner's frozen chocolate blintzes (though admittedly, they probably aren't filling enough for a full meal under most circumstances).

Fri Nov 17, 12:41:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mike, I hear ya--I'm pretty spoiled, living within subway range of kosher take-out. It would be a lot tougher for us if we didn't have that option, and had to do our own cooking at all times. We'd need a huge freezer, probably, if we had to make a monthly run to the nearest town with a substantial Jewish population to stock up on kosher food. We'd probably cook even more fish and smoked tofu that we cook now.

Fri Nov 17, 10:02:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You owe no explanations. My Sis-inLaw says with a laugh on Fri Am that she still does not know what she is making. Obivously in the winter and one works outside the home that may not work so well.

My hubby cooks better than I but during tax season when he is working 20 hour days, I have done various things. The crock pot-its not just for cholent. Make a routine & repeat every week. That dish takes you nearly 2 hours b/c you do it once a year. If you did it every week, you would speed up, just like you did when you practiced typing b/f a job interview.
Finally cut yourself the same slack you'd give to a friend. If what you do is fine you you & yours, then thats the story. Forget about nosey co-workers. Nosiness is often disguised as "friendly conversation". Just don't buy in, or say oh, nothing fancy, just the usual" should get them to stop asking pretty quick!

Fri Nov 24, 04:36:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Oy, another "tax widow," living through the annual three-month vanishing act. I go through the same thing with Punster CPA every year. 'Nuff said.

Since neither of us can do much more than boil water, it doesn't really matter who's cooking. (Pity the poor Punster--I taught him almost everything he knows about cooking. It was a classic of the teacher being one lesson ahead of the student.) But you're probably right about us getting into more of a routine. We're very bad about planning.

And I could just tell my colleagues that I'm making "nothing fancy, just the usual"--as you said, maybe an answer like that would discourage them from asking.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Fri Nov 24, 03:40:00 PM 2006  

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