PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE
So often I hear women complain about their inability to master cooking or to incorporate a menu plan of healthier food that their families will actually eat. And I get it. It IS hard. I’m not denying that. But that’s not an excuse to give up and stop trying.
Growing up I always heard adults chirp at me, “Practice makes perfect,” while I faced failure and defeat in some new skill set I was attempting. (Grueling hours at the piano come to mind, oh, and the many many basketball games my toosh warmed the bench.) I began to hate that phrase, but then when I became a mom, I found myself using it on my own daughters! Oh, the shock and horror I felt, disgusted with myself, praying my girls wouldn’t resent me.
I knew the reason I said it, disgusting as it felt; it contained an element of a core value that I refuse to let my girls grow up without. I always tell my daughters, “The Abad girls don’t give up. We always try our hardest. We do not quit.”
And while I will not waver from teaching my girls to never give up, “Practice makes perfect” still rubbed me the wrong way. It’s that idea of perfection–if you practice, then you can do it perfectly–that I knew wasn’t right. I’d already spent too much of my life trying to attain perfection, and I’d failed spectacularly.
BUT EASY IS POSSIBLE
So when I heard a variation of the phrase–practice makes easy–I knew I had found a nugget of truth I wasn’t ashamed to pass on to my daughters. The concept of practicing, of not giving up, is paramount to understanding that phrase, but now there was also an attainable goal at the end–easy. If you practice, it will become easy for you.
This doesn’t just apply to piano lessons and basketball, it applies to our goals in the home, in the kitchen, and in our health as well. If you practice, it will get easier.
IN THE KITCHEN
When I’m in the kitchen, I eyeball measurements, adapt recipes, and serve new experiments to friends and family without tasting them first. How can I do all that? Do I have a natural inclination toward being a master chef and a future career on the Food Network? Nope. I have a long and detailed list of failures in my past where I practiced, made inedible food, and moved on. That’s how cooking became easier for me. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Now, when I cook, before I throw a new spice in a recipe, I can taste in my head what that spice is going to add to the recipe. Why? Because I’ve used it over and over in different food combinations–some tasted incredible and others . . . meh. When I eyeball a tablespoon of oregano in my palm, I know I’m close enough to the right measurement because I’ve measured hundreds, if not thousands, of other tablespoons of oregano, so I know how much should pour out of the jar, how big it looks in a tablespoon measuring spoon, and how heavy it feels in my hand.
Even something like picking good avocados at the grocery store is easy because I’ve picked hundreds before, some good, and some not so good. I know how soft is too soft; I know that a round avocado means little meat but a long skinnier one means a small pit and more meat; I know that a hard avocado doesn’t means it’s inedible, but it does mean I need to allow 4-7 days for it to ripen on my counter before I can factor it in for a meal. None of that knowledge came from a book. It came from experience, practice.
When someone tells me, “Well, I’m just not a natural cook/homemaker/healthy person,” I hear the truth behind their words. “I tried, but it was hard and I failed, so I stopped trying.” You’re not going to get any better by giving up. You’ve got to practice.
Plain and simple, there are three reasons you CAN excel in the kitchen:
Practice makes easy. You’ve got to practice, fail a lot, keep practicing, and then it will get easy. I promise.
Do you have any funny stories of when you practiced and tried something, but it failed spectacularly? Mine involved a head cold (i.e., an inability to taste), an attempt at making my own chicken broth for the first time, and serving chicken soup to a dinner guest. The result was food being spit out, pizza being ordered, and a truckload of apologies on my part. True story. What’s yours?