I’ve never really been domestic. My mom never bought me an Easy Bake Oven because she didn’t want me eating cake all day and she always worked so I was never exposed to real cooking or family dinners that didn’t take place at the mall food court. I went to a fancy private school where instead of Home Economics we were exposed to the useful and practical world of synchronized dancing on a giant field. You might think I was raised by wolves if you witnessed my table manners. Hell, I don’t even own plates or silverware; I just shove a ton of free plasticware and napkins in my bag whenever I go to the grocery store for prepared food. So far its worked for me. But I just turned 39 and some rather unkind people pointed out that I am supposed to be an adult by now and adults cook and clean and own multiple sets of flatware and say things like “that was delightful,” instead of my usual, “that was fucking delicious”, while wiping my mouth on my shirt sleeve. Also, apparently adults say “excuse me” when they belch really loud in public, but let’s tackle that some other time.
I enlisted the help of a friend to turn this untamed, Jewish princess into a proper, domesticated, functioning adult. He went on Amazon and ordered me a bunch of fancy cooking shit like a Pyrex, tongs and oven gloves (and seriously, when will Dior or Chanel design a line of aprons and gloves?). I also ordered a box of fresh organic chicken and grass-fed beef so not only will I be an adult but I will be the epitome of good health. I bought pepper and pink salt (from the Himalayas, mind you) and garlic powder and an exotic-sounding marinade to make my very first dish: baked chicken drumsticks with baby carrots.
Now the last time I attempted to stick anything in my oven other than crescent rolls, I nearly blew up the entire building, so surely I am to be commended at the outset for even making this brave attempt. The word “hero” was tossed around by a few people, but I don’t know about that. I’m just like any other 39-year-old woman cooking her very first adult meal. Let’s just call me a woman of strength and courage and leave it at that. For now…
The first step in cooking my dish was to defrost the chicken. I’ve seen enough situational comedy Thanksgiving specials to know this is an essential step in the cooking process and I refuse to be the dumb girl who holds a blow dryer to a bunch of drumsticks or tries putting them in the sauna. Lucky for me, chicken drumsticks thaw much faster than a whole turkey. Also lucky for me, I don’t even like turkey so I’ll never have to worry about defrosting one last minute before Thanksgiving. But I digress…
So, spoiler alert: cooking is actually super easy once you discern how to turn on the overly complicated oven settings and timers. It’s the cleaning part that’s a drag, but more on that and my close encounters with salmonella in a bit. Now that my drumsticks were thawed and ready to be smothered in seasoning, I could preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I only know about preheating because my friends with kids are always going on about preheating their old-timey ovens while the kids get a bath. I’m pretty sure my state-of-the-art oven doesn’t take much time to reach 400 degrees, but now I can get in on that “things you can accomplish while preheating” conversation, which for me included a trip to the bathroom and checking Instagram.
Next, I took my fancy new Pyrex (and yes I washed it first, thank you very much, but shoutout to my friend, Robin, for reminding me) and put a thin coat of coconut oil on the bottom so the drumsticks wouldn’t stick, cuz I’m not trying to scrape off that shit. I sprinkled some pink salt and pepper and garlic powder on the chicken. I didn’t use much, figuring I can always add later, and successfully fought my urge to dump the entire contents. I placed the chicken and some super cute baby carrots into the Pyrex, admired my work for a good 50 seconds, and then stuck it in the oven. I left it in there for 40 minutes, during which time I distracted myself from having a nervous breakdown freaking out the apartment would burn down by cleaning the countertops and daydreaming about my future, successful, syndicated cooking show and all the new clothes I would need and who would be my first celebrity guest. I was in the midst of a heated inner debate whether it should be Henry Cavill or someone from the Marvel Universe who would be less hot but more relevant when I remembered I don’t give a shit about The Avengers and then I accidentally tipped over the open bottle of marinade in my moment of revelation. Ugh.
Ok, so the cleaning…not exactly my bag. The freaking raw chicken juices leaked all over the place and I had to toss random shit at my cat to keep her from trying to lick it all up. I am so paranoid about contracting salmonella I compulsively washed my hands like 17 times and must have used half a container of Clorox antibacterial wipes to clean my counter. I didn’t even want to think about cleaning that Pyrex when the food was done (my guess is I would soak it and forget about it for at least a week) and thank goodness I was smart enough to buy paper plates and steal more plasticware and napkins from Whole Foods so I didn’t have to spend the night washing boring dishes.
Forty minutes passed rather quickly, during which time I’m proud to say I only opened the oven 6 times to check on the progress (would have been much more had my friend not told me to use the oven light instead).
And Voila, I freaking cooked! And it was actually pretty damn good and I didn’t have to resort to eating my backup meal: a Whole Foods rotisserie chicken. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say what a brilliant cook I am because apparently, even some Chimp in Iowa was able to cook a few vegetables, but actually, fuck it, I deserve some accolades for learning a new skill at 39 years old. For the record, the chimp was a lot younger and I look like a youthful 32 at the most.