My DH is a crazy accomplished chef. He cooks amazing desserts. He’s been playing with making his own pasta. He’s mastered sourdough from a levain. He’s got the best all-butter pie crusts around. He can do pretty much anything. He’s done in depth studies about what makes the best chocolate chip cookies using lab notebook techniques. If there’s a recipe, he’s game to try it.
It wasn’t always this way. When we got married, he could make bread using the breadmaker that his grandma had gotten him when we went to college and that was about it. He’d also made pizza (using dough from the bread maker) a few times in college. He mostly lived on day old bagels and I’m not sure what else.
One day during our first year of graduate school and married life, DH asked if I could make my chili for dinner and I suddenly realized that he needed to learn how to cook. Otherwise I would be in charge of all the meal stuff every day for the rest of our lives. Or maybe until I got one of our future children to take over (I did a lot of the cooking at my parents’, especially during summers).
So I showed him how to make chili. And how to make spaghetti, which is pretty similar. And various egg dishes.
Then he started getting into recipes. He wasn’t very good at substitutions and his knife skills drove me crazy because he was SO SLOW getting perfectly even cubes instead of just doing a rough cut. But we managed.
Three years after getting real jobs, I sent him to a semester-long cooking class and that really improved his knife skills. He can take down a raw chicken with ease. And carrots get diced quickly and imperfectly with no second-guessing. He can even cut an orange so it looks fancy!
He’s now been cooking for nearly 20 years and can make substitutions on the fly. He can adjust recipes for weather conditions or flavor preferences (DC2 isn’t into spicy, I hate goat cheese, etc.) It didn’t take 20 years to get to this point. The cooking class was only really necessary to get his knife skills up to speed (honestly, I don’t know what the hangup there was).
My little sister also didn’t know how to cook until she was well into adult-hood. She hated doing it growing up and my parents had me, so there didn’t seem to be any reason to force her. They already had someone to chop potatoes. (In fairness, my sister’s existence meant I never had to mow a lawn since my mom assumed my sensitivity to heat and general clumsiness would result in me mangling a foot or two if I tried. I do have faded cooking-related scars on my hands and arms, but I never actually lost a limb doing it.) Since hitting her 30s, she’s been learning a lot more about cooking– most of the Christmas and Birthday presents she’s been requesting have been cooking related for the past 10 years or so. She’s currently really into Ottonleigh’s Simple book* and in the Before Times was baking breakfast things for early morning meetings for her Team once a month or so.
DC1 has also been upping hir cooking skills– zie made a few complicated dishes from a fancy sushi cookbook without complaint. Though, due to the lack of ability to get sushi-grade fish, zie has switched over to the Help! My apartment has a kitchen! cookbook and has started mastering simpler things like garlic bread and shrimp cocktail. Zie is currently on the “make one dinner a week for the family” plan. Both kids are in charge of their own breakfasts (cereal, fruit, leftover baked goods) and lunches (leftovers, quesadillas, sandwiches or cheese and crackers/rice cakes).
Who does the cooking in your place? When did you learn how to cook?
*Disclaimer: We got a copy of this book and Ottonleigh has six definitions of “simple” (one for each letter in the word Simple, get it?) and it is debatable how many of the recipes are anything like “quick and easy”, though they are labeled with what kind of simple they are. Also they’ve all been delicious. But we haven’t noticed them being any simpler in range than the ones in the Jerusalem cookbook which we would recommend over Simple.