Many people of the current generation (whatever that is) likely haven’t seen the classic Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie “Woman of the Year”.  Amazingly, it’s one of those that I’ve never seen in its entirety, only in snips and bits.  It’s a strange movie, painful and poignant and funny and frustrating, and in the end, happy.  I love watching Heburn and Tracy, moreso because of what I know of their real-life relationship.

But here I have started by digressing.  My point is: if you’ve never seen the movie, and don’t want to, I understand, but it’s worth seeing one segment:  where Hepburn attempts to make breakfast for Tracy.  After putting 4 scoopfuls of coffee in the bottom of one of the old-style (well, then it was perfectly modern) percolators, and a teacup of water in the top, she gamely and cluelessly tries to figure out how to open the stove burners.  Finally and noisily succeeding, she tries to make waffles.  Seperating the eggs is beyond her, so she gives up on it and mixes them all together in the batter.  The waffles, once in the waffle iron, poof to an oozy four-inch height, the coffee bubbles up like lava from the percolator, and the toast is continuously popping out of the toaster, into the air, and onto the floor.  She finally gives up in tears. 

Sounds like a typical day in the kitchen at my house.  Except without the tears.

Where has my kitchen confidence gone?  I have talked about this before.  For the last decade or so of my marriage, I was constantly told that I was incapable of doing anything right.   I actually started to believe it.  It will take a long time for me to realize that it’s not true, that the dynamics behind that belief are complex, multi-faceted, and have very little to do with me.  A dear friend is onto me, though, and is vigilant about not letting me continue with this kind of talk and attitude.

But still…I have issues in the kitchen.  Which is why the kitchen scene from “Woman of the Year” so resonates with me. 

Back in my college days, when staying with my boyfriend at his house in the Bronx, I was on my own one morning and needed breakfast.  He had one of those old gas stoves – I’d never seen one before, but he’d given me basic instructions before he’d left that morning.  I confidently set out to cook some bacon and eggs.   However, I had considerable difficulty lighting the stove.  So much difficulty, in fact, that I filled the entire apartment with gas.  At some point, I realized that there was so much gas in the apartment that if I were to light another match to try to light the stove, the whole place would probably go up in an incendiary ball.  At which point, I opened all the windows, laid down, and tried very hard not to be sick.  I never did get any breakfast.

As I’ve said before, I’ve gone through phases of cooking well and phases of cooking like a three-year old.

I made some stellar mussels the other day – and it was my first attempt at mussels.  I was so proud!

But then again, I made steaks for Kelsea and myself the other night, and they were awful.  Tough, flavorless.  Perhaps it was the meat, but I’m more inclined to think it was me. 

I suppose the reason I’m thinking about this again is because I have to prepare party food for an Open House for work for Friday night.  In my tiny kitchen, with about a yard of counter space and my itty-bitty oven, this task is particularly daunting.  Pat used to do the cooking for these events, and he did it so well.  This time, it’s all up to me. 

I’ve been trying to come up with a fairly simple menu, which so far looks like this:

Fruit  (no cooking required – yippee!)
Cheese and crackers  (ditto)
Veggies with Ranch dressing (double ditto)
Devilled Eggs
Spicy Garlic Shrimp
Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
Guacamole & Chips
Artichoke Bread
White Trash Puff Balls (!!!!)
Chicken Wings
Greek Meatballs with Cucumber Sauce
Lemon Bars
Brownie Bites

That sounds like a lot.  Hopefully it will be enough.  But you can see how it might feel a bit intimidating.

On the other hand, planning for this sort of thing is exactly what I do best.  So the shopping list is made, the cooking tasks are listed, and I’ll be going to the store this afternoon or tomorrow morning.  And after that…

Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best.  And perhaps have some Alka-Seltzer handy.