I am now fully ensconced in the land of Texas. This takes some adjustment, as you might expect: I’m used to seeing squirrels outside, not lizards. But in a lot of ways, Beloved Husband’s hometown is a lot like mine: suburban developments, neighborhood associations, people complaining about the humidity. We even each have a Starbucks within walking vicinity, although people here prefer to drive.
In a lot of ways, that’s the most difficult thing to adjust to. Here, people hide out in their houses during the day. There’s very little public transportation — one job I was looking at would require me to drive to the bus stop, then change to another bus downtown — and everyone drives everywhere, even if it’s only a few blocks away. The heat and humidity keeps everyone tucked away inside with the air conditioning. Mentioning I want to walk to the local Starbucks gets me stares and “are you sure?”s. When I walked to the post office and back the other day (a two-mile trek), people worried. I am a strong and reasonably in-shape young woman, equipped with a cell phone that has GPS. I’m going to be okay, and if I’m not okay, I can call for help!
I shouldn’t be so self-righteous. If I had a car, I would likely drive as well. But I’m afraid of Texas traffic and the crazy looping highways, so that’s not happening.
Another thing to adjust to is sharing the kitchen. We’re living with Beloved Husband’s parents to save money. I love my parents-in-law, and it’s really great living with them. They’re warm, intelligent, funny people with great taste in TV and books. BH’s mother is a vegan and an amazing cook, so food here is healthy and delicious.
There’s just one issue: I am totally afraid that my mother-in-law thinks I’m incompetent in the kitchen.
She doesn’t. Not really. I don’t think. But she is so hyper-competent in the kitchen — cooking things on all four burners, plus the oven, plus the toaster oven, plus the microwave; regularly making enough food for six people or more; never once, to my knowledge, consulting a recipe for anything — that I feel completely incompetent and make stupid mistakes around her, which need to be corrected, which further deflates my confidence on my cooking. Then she ends up correcting me and doing whatever I’ve screwed up so quickly that I don’t know what she did.
A few days ago she asked me to make the rice dish for the family as she was running errands. She did not give me a recipe: instead, she gave me a monologue. I wrote down all the ingredients, and shall attempt to replicate it here:
2 cups rice
4 cups water
2 broccoli heads
Chop all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Add vegetables to pot.
Add rice and water — double the amount of water that there is to rice.
Add olive oil (1/4 cup?)
Add spices — be generous, especially with garlic powder and tumeric, not so much with the cayenne pepper.
Turn on the rice cooker and let it sit. (Never peek at a rice cooker.) Once it’s done, fluff the rice with fork.
Thoughts: You can edit this recipe a lot, putting in your favorite veggies and taking out any you don’t like. The rice turns out a gorgeous yellow and is much less bland than most starches.
(That burn mark is because I let it sit for a little long, alas.)
I probably freaked out a little much about this recipe, considering its simplicity written out, but it was also the OMG FIRST TIME I AM TRUSTED WITH DINNER WHAT IF I DO IT WRONG, especially because MIL was unavailable for help. Or, as usually happens when she tries to help, doing it for me.
Beloved Husband and I actually went out that evening and didn’t get a chance to taste it before MIL ate. The next day, she called me and let me know not to skimp on the spices. “But it was good! It was very edible!”
Very edible. Totally what I’m searching for.
My mother just sent me a bunch of cookbooks as a graduation present. Win-win!