Heading for Takeout

There’s a saying in my family: When Janet heads to the kitchen (that’s me), then everyone else heads for takeout.

I’m fully convinced I could headline on the “Worst Cooks in America” if I could just survive in the kitchen long enough to submit an audition tape.

Some of my culinary mishaps are the stuff of urban legend. Like the time I exploded a plate while making French toast for my friends.

I don’t mean I broke a plate. I mean it was a duck-under-the-table-shrapnel-flying explosion. Apparently, I turned the wrong burner on. (I wondered why my French toast was still raw even as I turned the heat higher and higher.)

After that my friends ushered me out of the kitchen, swept my floor and countertops, and called me when breakfast was ready.

I get that response a lot.

There was the time I made pudding from scratch that was so lumpy I called it chocolate chunk pudding and convinced everyone it was intentional. And recently during a family visit, my mom came down the hallway calling, “Wow, whatever those plumbers did really stinks… oh, wait, I think that’s your cooking.”

There is, however, one culinary expertise that I possess: I make a mean bowl of Jell-O.

Ever since the great soup escapade of 2014, I decided to focus my efforts on something a little more in my wheelhouse. My attempts with powdered gelatin and boiled water have been met with wild acclaim. I no longer have to ask my church family what I should bring to the carry-in.

“How about Jell-O?” they will suggest.

“Yes! We love your Jell-O! Please bring that,” another will chime in.

With such enthusiasm as that, how can I let them down?

Jell-O it is. And I am happy to report that to date, no one has been injured in either the making or consuming of my special gelatin salad. I call that a win for everyone.

All of this bring me to my reflection. When faced with obstacles as insurmountable as my cooking inaptitude, it seems we have three paths to overcoming:

#1 Find your special niche.

I’m not about ready to whip up a crème brûlée, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be successful in some small and still important part. (Who doesn’t love a colorful Jell-O?) The same is true for you and whatever obstacle you may be facing. I’m not ready to take on cooking-at-large, and you may not be ready to take on your obstacle-at large, but that doesn’t mean there’s not still a place for us at the table. Find your spot and pull up a chair. I’ll be at the end away from the flames and sharp utensils.

#2 Get training.

As much as I hate to admit it, and I’m only going to whisper it here, I have on occasion actually used a (gulp) recipe. And the other day I inadvertently learned how to tenderize chicken by soaking it – oh excuse me, marinating it – in lemon juice or vinegar. I haven’t actually tried it yet. Mine will likely taste like pickled sawdust, but my point is I learned something. There are people out there who know more than us. (Thank God!) Don’t be afraid to learn from them.

#3 Let it go.

Sometimes rather than climbing over obstacles, we can simply walk around them. I wonder how much time we spend in life fighting battles we don’t really need to fight. Take a moment to assess how important your particular challenge is. If it’s important, see #2 above. And if it’s not, well, I say we just forget it and go celebrate with some takeout.

Who’s with me?

This post was originally written for inspireafire.com. I hope this second helping brought a smile to your day!

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