About Jessica Harper, The Crabby Cook
For a long time I, Jessica Harper, thought I was the only crabby cook I knew. While I complained my way through daily cooking for my picky family, I envied my friends who seemed so Martha Stewart-y, all rushing around recipe swapping and table decorating, searing tuna and braising beef cheeks.
I had not always been so irritable. In the days B.C. (before children), I took pleasure in collecting cook books and buying shallots, concocting fabulous food to please boyfriends and family. But back then I cooked what I wanted, when I felt like it, which, of course, is not remotely how a family food agenda works. When I found myself cooking several times a day, including two dinners, an early one for kids who would only eat six things, and a later one for their father who would only eat about eight things which were different from the kids’ six, my feelings about the whole thing shifted, tumbling downhill, and I became a full-fledged crabby cook.
Ashamed of my inability to experience the joy of cooking, I kept my gnarly attitude to myself. While I pretended to be Julia Child-like, I secretly honed my cooking-avoidance skills: I ripped easy recipes from the magazines in my doctor’s office, trolled the city for takeout options, even invited my mother-in-law for dinner and handed her an apron.
Then one day, not so long ago, I had my mahjong group for dinner. (This is a sub-group of my Book Group, which is an offshoot of my PTA Special Events group.) Between bites of takeout sushi, my friend Kathy announced, “You know, I am just so over cooking dinner every night.” I was stunned. I’d thought Kathy was a regular Rachael Ray: she makes killer stroganoff, freezes pesto in the ice cube tray and owns monogrammed coasters.
“Oh, I know,” my friend Lynn said, “Doesn’t it suck?” I was shocked: I’d thought Lynn was the next Nigella.
But these revelations were just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. Later, I got confessions from Denise and Mimi and Patti: they were fed up with daily cooking. Even my sister-in-law Julie, who writes a food column for her newspaper no less, had this to say about daily food prep: “I HATE IT!”
It was then I knew I was not alone. Apparently the world was full of crabby cooks, and that’s who this blog is dedicated to. It’s loaded with easy recipes (tested for acceptability by my picky relatives) and survival tips to make life easier for those of us who are kitchen-challenged.
So, if you are a crabby cook, get busy and start reading!! Unless you have my dream cookbook (that would be the one that pops open and presents a meat loaf or a roasted chicken) you’re going to need to make dinner tonight. (If you DO have my dream cookbook, call me. I’ll make you an offer you’ll probably refuse.)