Perhaps in my heart if not in my skill, I have always been a cooking slave. Before I lived with Mistress, I lived with two Jewish mothers who live up to the stereotype, and their way of shoving food onto people rubbed off on me. During a brief break in that living situation, I lived in a more communal situation where I learned the best way to make friends was to cook entirely too much of whatever I was making, and walk around offering it to people.
Once, I walked in to the little medical office while the women at the front desk were talking about how “no one comes to see us unless they’re sick”.
“Well, I’m perfectly healthy; would you like a muffin? Just pulled these out of the oven, made a full batch to make measuring the ingredients easier, but I can’t eat ‘em all, y’know?”
Later, someone else: “Man, I have to wait two weeks for my medical center appointment!”
Me, mentally: “Hmm, I’ve always gotten in on the same day. Go figure.”
No one told me that offering to make people food wasn’t how flirting worked, so I used the same technique when I met Mistress, and hey, it worked. Maybe that is how flirting should work?
Well, while we began a 24/7 live-in power dynamic within two months of meeting, I still had cooking to offer. We learned a few things.
Mistress enjoys cooking and is very good at it. My skillset paled in comparison.
As time passed, we discovered that as much as the above was true, there was another fact to consider. We both really liked the idea of meal planning and had tried out various methods. We tried planning meals a week in advance during our weekly check-in, we tried a week-long meal plan that would be the same each week, we tried planning for all meals and just for dinner, we tried more categorical planning and more specific planning, and any combination of those things. We could not seem to stick to it.
Working on another attempt, we realized that we stuck strictly to the meal plan when it was my turn to cook, and that we did not stick to the meal plan when it was her turn to cook.
We both had no problem eating on the plan. I had no problem cooking on the plan. This led us to a perhaps obvious conclusion: that I should do the cooking. There would be exceptions now and then so she could still cook when she liked, and I had become better at cooking some things, and wanted to learn more (with my limited skillset being an initial reason the cooking was one of few things of the sort that got divided up, alongside Mistress’ enjoying cooking before we realized how much that didn’t apply to a meal plan).
We are still making adjustments.
The nice thing with the categorical planning (including a “free choice”) is it gives me room to learn to cook new things. I like not having every day be categorical because it does cut down on planning time a little, and lets favorites remain.
Each new recipe I try teaches me something—maybe a technique, maybe something about an ingredient, maybe that we both always want double the amount of garlic, etc.
Some new things I’ve made include various chicken breast recipes (though our chicken favorite remains the chicken thigh/drumstick recipe made in the oven), and a pizza-pasta-bake featuring rotini, crumbled hot Italian sausage, pepperoni, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. I’ve been working on “perfecting” the pot roast and the sous-vide tri tip. And old favorites! I’ve also started having healthy smoothies.
I’m having fun cooking and learning (and eating) and most of all, becoming more useful.
I’ve had fun upgrading “the experience” along with the food. We want to be more eco-friendly, so as part of that, we committed to using real, non-disposable silverware, plates, bowls, and napkins. This meant that Mistress acquired us cloth napkins (and while she was at it, new placemats), and learning folding with those has been fun, too. I’ve also noticed more use of the chilled glasses kept stocked in the freezer. Fancier and more eco-friendly, all at once.
Besides those things, I’ve tried to upgrade the service side of culinary skills too. I have started going through some mostly-video courses aimed at the hospitality industry, which have serving tips and also good information for things like table setting, and inspiration for things like our coffee-tea-cocoa station.
Improvements have definitely been made and there are more to come.