Anyone who follows me on Instagram can’t fail to notice that I post quite a few photos of food that I cook. I do so unashamedly because part of the reason I do it is because I am proud of myself and blowing your own trumpet now and again is a good thing. Celebrate your successes and be proud. But the reason I am proud is that I believe that I have become a really good cook and someone who can produce a top quality meal. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we eat fish fingers and chip from the freezer but it is all about balance after all.
The reason I am proud is because I have had not training to be able to cook well. My parents didn’t teach me to cook, I only ever did the basic mandatory cooking in school and I did take it for my GCSEs and I’ve never been on a cookery course in my life. But somehow with the help of TV, books and the internet I have learnt to make some fantastic dishes that the family and I love. But beneath the veneer of Instagram you may notice I don’t post many photos of me cooking with the children.
When it comes to the control spectrum in the kitchen and I very much on the freak end of that it. I am a kitchen control freak. I know what I am doing, I know when it needs doing and I know where everything I need is.
This mind-set does not lend itself well to teaching – at all. I’d love to be one of those parents who can spend hours in the kitchen with the kids teaching them how to cook and bake and all those kinds of things, but that’s simply not me. I accept that. I guess because I never had that when growing up (and I bear not grudges about it) I don’t see myself doing it either.
That’s not to say I haven’t done it nor to say I will never do it again, but it’s not a regular occurrence in our house. But I can also say that the girls have never really shown any interest in cooking or baking either. My motto is “you can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to be taught” and that fits my point here perfectly. They are, however, happy to eat what is produced and always thankful for the meals produced.
I mentioned that I was never taught to cook at home and I think part of that reason is that my Mum was pretty similar to me in the control freak department. She was, still is, fastidious on cleanliness and mess would not be tolerated. But also she admits herself that her mum (a great cook by all accounts, and I can sure remember her poached fish with parsley sauce) never really taught her either. My Grandma could make all sorts and her Yorkshire moggy tray bake was something else that nobody in our family has ever been able to recreate.
When I eventually left home at 21 and moved in with Helen it hit me just how little I knew, cooking and laundry were a mystery to me! But, I learnt to cook and over the years my confidence has grown. I have always been willing to try new things and give something a go which is why I think I’ve become a good cook. Sometimes it would be a cooking show on TV that inspired me, or a recipe in a magazine and sometimes I just made up my own recipe, usually because we had minimal provisions in the cupboards, such as my super simple fish stew.
But I don’t seem able to pass the skills I’ve learnt onto my children. Why? I think part of the reason is that I am self-taught and in the human brain that is very different to being taught. It’s very similar to IT and programming – I am also self-taught and I struggle to explain things to people that don’t have that same mindset. I’ve always been the type of person who can learn to do something without necessarily being show and taught and while that is a good skill to have it doesn’t lend itself to being a good teacher.
Our eldest daughter is about to take Computer Science in her GCSE options and I am dreading it! She will of course expect that I can help her and supplement her learning but I fear the same will happen in that I expect her to be able to teach herself to some extent. Only time will tell.
I can’t be the only parent like this – can I? Anyway, I do want to change though. So, this is a documented promise to the world that I shall make more effort to cook with my girls and pass on some of the skills I have. Let’s see how that goes?
Thanks for reading.