I rank housecleaning, on my list of favorite activities, somewhere below root canals and calls from telemarketers.
As a cook, however, I've always been more enthused. A mop and bucket may be hapless tools in my quest for Suzy Homemaker, but I achieve a bit of magic with a spatula and frying pan.
I learned my way around the kitchen at a young age. I remember calling my mother at work, when I was ten, with a question about stuffing the roast chicken I was making for dinner. The greatest benefit of having a mother who worked outside the home was being given the responsibility and liberty of preparing dinner (that and having an excellent venue for afternoon parties on school holidays).
My mom's own mother never allowed her anywhere near the kitchen. This resulted in a few culinary disasters later in her young adult life, such as the time she made potato salad for a picnic and figured a generous sprinkling of cinnamon on top could substitute for paprika. (A red spice is a red spice, she reasoned.) Oh, Mom. *sigh*
Although she went on to be a fabulous self-taught cook, she wanted to save her three daughters similar humiliation. Consequently, by the time I was 21 and living on my own, I was a wiz in the kitchen. Albeit one with a sink full of days-old dirty dishes.
But then, over the past few years, all my dinner guests left the building.
As a single and new empty-nester, dinner time now is often a table-for-one affair. Cooking hardly seems worth the effort. Suddenly, a bag of popcorn and can of Diet Coke is a quite suitable meal. My freezer is loaded, not with beef roasts and chicken parts, but with stacks of Lean Cuisines. Twice last week, I said "Screw Dinner" altogether.
Oh, the horror of my woebegone ways.
Martha Stewart may have politely turned her back to my dusty bookshelves, but she surely won't excuse my dipping a Dorito in a bowl of salsa and calling it a meal.
Martha, however, is not my biggest concern at the moment. Son #2 returned home from college this weekend for the summer. After nine months of cafeteria food, he's looking forward to a home-cooked meal or two.
I'm more than happy to oblige him.
I hope he likes his popcorn well done.