The author found something rather calm and cool amidst the chaos of cooking.
The author found something rather calm and cool amidst the chaos of cooking. (Photo:

How I ditched the Lean Pockets and learned to love cooking

I was my family’s white angel of death – the black sheep of the house. I grew up in a household of accomplished and gifted bakers, bearing the hex of being completely uninterested in cooking. At first, it was the frustration of knowing I’d never fry an egg like my father or bake a cake like my mother, but then my exasperation slowly fizzled into utter laziness and an unstoppable dependency on fast food.

Aside from the adventurous night where I’d concede to defeat over starvation and muster up the courage to throw a couple chicken strips in the oven, I had never legitimately made any sort of meal for myself ... ever. Until recently.

I have this particular foible in which the idea of a potentially-positive life-change sends me into a spiral of anxiety. For example, upgrading my sock collection once drove me into a psychological meltdown. Cooking used to give me a similar feeling, and I’d find myself too sidetracked with the "what ifs" to even venture into experimentation. The thought of taking care of myself via the act of chopping ingredients and putting said ingredients into a pan caused me to blow a microchip.

However, sometimes you need someone in your life to put the little things into perspective. This happened to be my girlfriend. As compared to the hodgepodge of cutting, frying, and chopping that was my parent’s method, her calm and meticulous demeanor with food put my mind at ease. Watching her move effortlessly through the kitchen to create these delicious, wonderful meals inspired me in way I’d never imagined possible.

So, I began cooking. It started off slow – boiling pasta, chopping cucumbers, taking ice cream breaks – but I made progress and, oddly enough, got really into it. Compared to my past life of breakfast Hot Pockets and dinnertime Lean Pockets, I found nothing more soothing than roaming up and down the aisles of food stores, hunting for fresh produce.

When you watch your parents cook, or anyone with exceptional skills …