I am not someone considered a "natural" in the kitchen. That title is held by my older sister, Mignon. No matter what she decides to cook, the food looks magazine perfect, is delicious, and is prepared correctly the first time. Always. Culinary perfection in a way most of us stumbling around the kitchen trying not to burn the pot of water we left on to boil would aspire to, if only we could remember why we put the pot of water on to boil in the first place. I have had open pouting fits because she made one of her heavenly (and HEAVY) cream cheese pound cakes, and either due to timing or the cake being for someone else, I couldn't get a piece. She is the only person that can cook liver that I will actually eat, and one Christmas served up a re-imagined banana pudding that has the entire family begging her for it at every holiday.
I am not a terrible cook, but I know my limits. So long as I keep it simple, the kids don't end up eating sandwiches or cereal for dinner due to my attempts at creativity. My disasters are numerous and legendary. Just ask the kids. Take the steak I killed the other night. Yes. I know it was dead when I bought it at a huge markdown from the store, but I delivered the cheap cut of meat (it was hugely marked down for a reason) to a second death by way of what was supposed to be a short stint in the oven that wasn't quite short enough. When I pulled the steaks from the oven, I'm not sure what alarmed me first: the strange smell, or the way the steaks had curled up in the middle of the pan, as if recoiling form the marinade I had put in the pan to keep them moist. The steak knife met with a great deal of resistance as the meat absolutely refused to be separated from each other, and the first taste reminded me that I needed to clean my daughter's sneakers for school the next day. The kids tried the steak, and managed to set a record for spitting it out without ever chewing it.
Mercifully, it's not always that bad:
My son, Damani, is turning into quite the cook himself. He's also a visual learner, and by watching me, figured out what not to do in the kitchen, as well as how to make sure at least some things go right. He took a summer course from a chef at our church, and performed work study in a Marriott hotel kitchen. He has the added benefit of YouTube for learning to cook new dishes, and a knack for adapting recipes if he doesn't have every ingredient he needs. He also has a unique gift of being able to taste a dish and not only guess the ingredients, but how to prepare it. I found out about this trick with a breakfast casserole I had purchased from a convenience store. He took one bite, told me what was in it, and after I bought the food needed to re-create the dish, he made a better version of the casserole, and it is now a staple on weekend days when we are going to be particularly busy.