Frankly, for the majority of my life, I stuck to a few tried and true dishes following a few disasters that scared me spitless. One time I made a crushed cranberry salad leaving out the sugar…talk about tart!
Fortunately, in his 40’s my husband felt called into pastoral ministry and has had the experience of eating food prepared by some of the best cooks in all the world or at least Oklahoma and Kentucky. I don’t think the prospect of eating well had anything to do with his call, but it certainly was a benefit.
Usually, I have been the person assigned drinks, paper products, condiments for any shared dining experience, such as church potluck suppers and picnics. If people were really brave, they might ask me to pick up fried chicken, potato salad or cole slaw at the grocery, suggesting I simply leave it in the container lest anyone attending might think I made it.
Then in 2010 Terry was diagnosed with Stage IV squamous cell cancer at the base of his tongue, which required induction chemotherapy for 8 weeks and then 9 weeks of concurrent chemotherapy and radiation. During that process, his ability to taste food and finally his ability to eat food disappeared. For six months following the conclusion of his treatment, his primary nourishment, hydration and medication were administered through a feeding tube. During that time cooking became virtually non-existent.
When Terry’s taste began to return as he began to tolerate food by mouth, it had changed. That was my first prompt to try new recipes and variations of food. I watched him and listened to what he said he liked and what he really did not. Sweet stuff took the longest to taste right again. Some taste has not returned at all, but we are grateful, he is alive and he is, as of his last check-up 4 years out, cancer free.
The motivation to finally learn to cook came not from the desire to COOK but from the desire to find foods my husband enjoyed eating…even for a few bites, because he says after a few bites his taste sense weakens.
So since I retired in 2012, I have been watching some cooking shows, trying some new recipes, and in general improving as a cook at least for my limited audience. Low and behold, I actually enjoy it, at least part of the time and have begun to share dishes with others.
One I have shared recently is good for folks who are gluten or wheat intolerant and are watching carbs. My husband and brother love them, especially with chocolate chips, so they are a successful recipe for me….AND did I mention EASY!
I hope you enjoy these:
Flourless, Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
(Makes about 2 dozen small cookies, recipe adapted from Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies from Cookie Madness.)
1 large egg
1 cup granular Splenda or Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Mexican vanilla (or vanilla extract) [Terry brought me a huge bottle from a mission trip to Mexico, but the Kitchen Store in Lake Wales, FL has some excellent vanilla and I am processing vanilla beans in 90 proof vodka in Kentucky. Good vanilla makes a difference]1 cup creamy natural peanut butter (check sugar content, the one I used had only 1 gram sugar per serving. I have also used Crunchy natural Peanut Butter]
1 tsp. water
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
[I have also added 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips]
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In mixing bowl, use electric beater to beat together the egg, Splenda or Stevia, baking powder, and vanilla for about a minute. Add peanut butter and water and beat together. (The mixture was fairly dry and broken apart. Just be sure the peanut butter is mixed well with the other ingredients.) Add peanuts if using, and blend into dough.
Use a large non-stick cookie sheet. Measure out a heaping teaspoon of batter for each cookie, then smash down with a wet fork. Bake 15 minutes until cookies feel firm and are slightly browned.
I am glad I finally decided to face down my fear of failure in the kitchen proving even an culinarily inept older woman can learn to cook, provided she follows the directions. However, I think My sweet husband who once gave me a little plaque displayed prominently in my Kentucky kitchen. It reads, “I kiss better than I cook” STILL agrees with that statement, or at least I hope he does.
Because I still like kissing him better than cooking for him!