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Grrr, or why Rachael Ray needs to meet a bad end.

Hi. My name is Kate and I hate cooking.  

And this was no big deal until Aura arrived. Before that, there was take-out and there was defrosting and there were Trader Joe’s meat+ beans+ sauce entrées, but dinner was never An Event. Once in a while, just for chuckles, we’d spend a weekend afternoon making an actual meal, after which we’d congratulate ourselves heartily and draw historically inaccurate comparisons. “Look!” I’d yell gleefully to Adam. “We flambéed corn JUST LIKE THE PILGRIMS DID.”  

Then Aura came along and I cut down on work. It seemed…obligatory that I take on the brunt of the cooking, and that it involve things like ingredients and pans and nutrition. So far, I think I’ve done passably, my quiches and Thai peanut noodles and buttermilk chicken uncolored by the hatred I feel while making them.  

You know what I hate most? The pressure. And for that, I wholeheartedly blame:  

  

Before the Food Network came along, a person could just tool around the kitchen, doing her best and then serving the end result. Yes, of course, some creations would be better than others. But that was to be expected, such as with, I don’t know, American Idol contestants, or children.  

No longer. Now EVERYONE is an expert on cooking, because EVERYONE watches the Food Network. Hell, you don’t even have to cook to be an expert, not that this stops most people. The other day, Adam peered down at the cutting board as I was chopping. “Wait!” he exclaimed anxiously. “Is that a three-quarter-inch dice?”  

“Um, it’s a dice alright,” I replied, my grip on the chef’s knife tightening. “I’m not sure how many inches it is.”  

“Kaaaaateeee,” he moaned, shaking his head with a level of distress typically reserved for natural disasters. “If the dice is wrong, the entire dish will be wrong. DON’T YOU KNOW BETTER THAN TO MESS WITH THE SUGAR-PROTEIN MATRIX?”  

I’m not sure, but I think that was right around the time I offered to three-quarter-inch dice his left testicle. Let me try to remember. Yep, it was then.  

I place the blame for the matrix comment squarely on Alton Brown. You know where he can shove his food-chemistry diagrams? You get one guess.

From here on out, I’m instituting a severe weekly cap on how much Food Network people in this house can watch. That goes for Aura, too. The other day, she walked into the living room just in time to catch the end of a Rachael Ray episode. “Mommy!” she called excitedly. “This lady just made super yummy noodles and caramel cake for lunch!”  

I sat down to join her on the couch. Slinging an arm around her, I said, “Yum! And you know what that lady likes to cook for dinner?”  

Still wide-eyed with newfound adoration, Aura turned to me. “What?” she answered.  

“Little girls,” I told her, then changed the channel.

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