(Un)Domestic Goddess

Domesticity is not my strong suit. I blame genetics.

You’ve heard about the failed pudding production experiment. I have set several microwaves and toasters on fire. (Side note: if one sets a toaster oven ablaze with a bag of mini-marshmallows atop the appliance, you will forever after be able to read the nutritional contents of the aforementioned mallows as they will be branded on your extra-toasty toaster oven.)

One of the muppets’ favorite foods is oatmeal. This is good stuff that they cannot get enough of – mouths wide open before I can refill the spoon. (Ok, who am I kidding – they seem to love all foods, but I digress.) After utilizing some rudimentary mathematical measurement skills, we determined that two oatmeal servings was equal to one-half cup. (The other foods come in single serve jars.) I pulled our measuring cup out and set about preparing dinner.

“You know that’s for liquid measurements right?” Jon queried.

You mean they’re not the same thing? Apparently stylistic design choices are not the sole reason for liquid measuring cups and the cups for measuring solid foods. Well, we’re never too old to learn something new!

During our Southern California adventure, I asked GrammaJ if I could borrow a measuring cup. She looked at me quizzically as she reminded me that she’d already given me one. “But I need one for the oatmeal; this one is for water,” I replied.

“Whatever,” she brushed me off. “They’re the same thing.”

Granted, this sage advice was proffered by a woman who is infamous for her culinary substitutions. Don’t have the specific spice called for in a recipe? No problem – there’s sure to be another spice on the rack that’s the same color and consistency, that’s what AllSpice is for, right? Casserole calls for cream of chicken soup? Chicken noodle has the same main ingredient, right? Hmmm, no olive oil for the brownies I’m making. A ha! The baby’s applesauce is easily at the ready.

(To be fair, that applesauce trick does work. And Jon conducted a little experiment while we were gone: those liquid and solid measuring cups are, in fact, pretty much the same thing.)

Overall, the women in my family get around this kitchen aversion by just not cooking. GrammaJ brags that she will cook twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. But now that she’s handed the hosting reigns over to the next generation, she doesn’t do those holidays anymore. The prime example of our familial edibility ineptitude is AuntJ helping her future mother-in-law prepare a holiday feast.

“How can I help?” the eager soon-to-be-wed offered. Her beloved’s mother suggested she could best assist by preparing the mashed potatoes. “Sure!” AuntJ exclaimed. “Where’s the box?”

The reason the measuring cup inquiries initially came about is because GrammaJ and GrampaStavo recently remodeled the kitchen (so now I don’t know where anything is in my childhood home). A reasonable question here would be why a non-cook would redo the kitchen. “Well, if it’s never used, it won’t get dirty!” is GrammaJ’s logical response. (Worth mentioning: GrampaStavo is quite the cook, so the kitchen does actually participate in the creation of meals.)

During the recent remodel, all household items were packed up. The iron was lost in the aftermath. “Oh well,” mused GrammaJ. “Nothing’s going to get ironed. I’m not buying a new one.” Then, over the past weekend, I opened the cabinet below the bathroom sink to grab a hairdryer. Like the Farmer in the Dell’s cheese, the iron stood alone.

“Mom, I found your iron!” I called. I wasn’t expecting a hero’s cheer given my mother’s equal enthusiasm for housework as for cooking, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for her response.

“I know. I put it there. That way I’ll remember where it is now.”

I’m sorry? You put it there? On purpose?

I regaled G.G. with this amusing quirk of my mother’s during our drive down to the beach. She chuckled, mentioning that she has never been a big fan of ironing either. Perhaps that is because her iron does not have any steaming capabilities – to press a garment, one needs to iron over the item with a damp cloth.

I bet you’re wondering, “Do they even make irons without steaming options these days?” The answer to that would be a resounding, “No.” G.G.’s iron was a wedding gift. In 1949. She still has the same one. Why would you need to replace an appliance that never gets used. “Wrinkled or wash-and-wear,” G.G. proudly announced.

I understand the thought process. Years ago, before we were married, Jon and I had a “crucial conversation” about household chores – I wasn’t pulling my fair share. I couldn’t really argue this…I don’t do bathrooms. But I was willing to make an effort to equally distribute the chores.

I hired a housekeeper.

Given my new status as housewife, this familial history could present a problem.


Filed under Family Stories, Home

12 Responses to (Un)Domestic Goddess

  1. gramma J

    Ah, but I have many other talents! Speech/language therapy, teach a child to read, help with auditory processing disorders, set up academic interventions for those with learning disabilities, write board policies and administrative regulations,…
    Spend money on remodels 🙂
    The women in our family have MANY talents – however, most of us are “cooking impaired”.

  2. Joanne Hamann

    Yeah, yeah, yeah… so the secret’s out – most of us knew it anyway! Never underestimate the power of hiring a housekeeper to save a marriage. Now, if I could just get that mother-in-law thing down! (Actually, the mashed potato story was with my college roommate – the mom-in-law asked where all the other courses were to go with the beef stroganoff and heart -shaped Valentine’s cake I made for her the day after we moved to Oregon to live with them- what other courses are there? And today, some 15+ years later, she denies she ever asked that!)

    The related undomestic goddess, Aunt J

  3. Winifred Ahern

    At least you have genetics to blame! Just hope you have a great smoke detector and that it’s in working order. It’s agreed that the measuring cups are basically the same. And, who wants to be Julie Childs anyway? We are all such grateful eaters when presented with even suggested “gourmet cooking.” As for ironing and cleaning, a housekeeper is the only answer — Never had one — G.G.

  4. Stephanie Koyano

    Ummmm…. I don’t believe it is just the women of the family. Mr. Tall Uncle has his issues as well in the world of the kitchen, however, he does try. Problem is by the time a meal is ready to go I have snacked on anything edible and am no longer hungry. Nevertheless, the entertainment provided is priceless as words and actions of utter frustration ensue the entire time, but he can BAKE!!! 🙂

  5. Joanne Hamann

    Well, you can’t say enough about baking – I’d marry him Steph, if I were you!

  6. grandpa stavo

    not all the family ladies are “cooking impaires” i remember one of my best meal was : beef wellington: prepares by Winnie when i was, dating Janet ,i still dont know if that was a….please marry my doughter trick or a pure act of culinary genius? now winnie you can tell us .what was?

  7. Joanne Hamann

    Yeah, Winnie, tell us all about it!

  8. Winifred Ahern

    Pure genius, of course!! At least I did it once — and it certainly paid off — we got you in the family. Winnie

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