My Crazy Fears by Conlee Ricketts
I have an irrational fear of bouillon cubes, chicken stock, and heavy cream. I’m not lying—this is one of my shameful truths. It’s a crippling fear. I shy away from glorious looking recipes because I see the words “bouillon cube” or “heavy cream” in the ingredients. That’s just crazy! Right?
I am able to cook. I mean I can get my body to move in the appropriate motions to prepare certain foods—hot dogs, spaghetti, frozen chicken pieces. I know I can do better though if it weren’t for my crazy fears.
One time I tried to conquer my fear by getting an adorable jar of bouillon cubes I saw at the store. That jar sat in my cupboard for years—years I say! Never touched. I finally pulled the jar out of the cupboard as I packed away my kitchen to move from our home during my divorce and ceremoniously dropped it into the garbage, apologizing to the cute jar and the tiny foil covered cubes for not knowing how to give them purpose. I felt guilty and defeated by these tiny cubes—or maybe it was the coinciding divorce that made me feel defeated—nope, I’m blaming the cubes.
With 2014 right around the corner I think I can put my fears behind me. I just need someone to explain a few things:
1. Would this tiny cube have been the magic elixir to Mom’s horrible pot roast?
2. What is the point of a bouillon cube?
3. How exactly am I supposed to use these tiny fu*#ers? Can I drop it in Ramen Noodles? Melt one in a pan with butter? But then what do I add to that pan?
4. What would happen if I combined a cube with chicken stock? Would it explode?
It’s during moments like these when I wish my own mother had been more of a teacher in the kitchen, or that I had been lucky enough to have one of those grandmothers that sat me on a stool in the kitchen explaining every secret she ever learned about cooking. Instead, if you mention “cream” and you aren’t talking about hazelnut coffee creamer you are going to get a very cold blank stare.
I know what my daughter would tell me, “Google it Mom.”
And I’m sure that’s what I’ll end up doing in the end, but there is this stubborn lonely part of me that wants a grandma to tell me—some gentle human with the patience to explain the most ridiculous basics about these crazy things I fear.
What is it that I fear? What if I add it to something and it ruins it? It just occurred to me that this entire fear is a metaphor for my life—my much larger fear that prevents me from trying (for fear of failure), or taking risks (for fear of failure). Wow, I just blew my mind.
I want to conquer my fears and face my culinary ignorance, but the brutal truth is that I actually long for a laughter filled kitchen full of good smells, funny stories and life lessons. Geographically and obituary-ally I am alone here with my daughter in our kitchen. It is going to be up to me to provide the kitchen atmosphere of my dreams. This coming year I will need to make time and space in my kitchen and my life to invite others in with more knowledge and experience. This probably applies to my entire life as well, but I will start in my kitchen. I will set aside my ignorance and shame to embrace the learning and laughing, and with my fingers crossed maybe I can turn a tasteless dry pot roast into the delicious stew I imagine in my head. Wish me luck!