Thursday, July 19, 2012

"I Don't Cook Anymore"

My typical lunch - alone

Actually, a more accurate statement is "I don't cook sit down dinners anymore."  

I have always liked to cook.  While never a gourmet cook (one has to like fish, veal and lamb to qualify for that vaulted title), I consider myself a pretty good cook.  In fact I am an excellent cook.

When I moved in with Bill once of the first things I bought was the New York Times cookbook.  I prepared and cooked many a meal from that cookbook.

Over the years that Bill and I have been together I have cooked many meals for company.  The gay gene really came out in me.  I may have missed the "Broadway Showtune" gay gene but I definitely had the "Let's have company over for dinner" gay gene.

Early on in our domesticity I used to cook a full breakfast and a full dinner EVERY day for Bill and myself.  Almost every weekend I would have friends over for dinner.  I so enjoyed trying out new recipes (a "no-no" actually) on my company.  Oh how I loved the wave of accolades when I hit a home run with a meal.

Me at our dining room table at our house in Philadelphia, PA - 1969

That formula worked out well when we lived in center city Philadelphia when I was able to walk to work.  We lived in center city Philadelphia for eleven years.

In 1980 we moved out of the city to Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  I was now a commuter.  No more the big breakfasts and certainly no more sit down dinners during the week, I got home just too late.

Bill and I began eating our meals on different schedules.  During the weekends I still had friends over for dinner, usually Saturday night.  The list of friends dwindled but I still enjoyed cooking my favorite recipes and serving them to Bill and our friends.  We lived in "the country" outside Downingtown for twenty-five years.

Then 2006 happened.  I sold our house in Pennsylvania and moved to Casa Tipton-Kelly here on the beautiful coastal shores of southern Delaware.  I no longer commute.  I work part-time, usually 3 pm to 11 pm two days a week.  I'm on call.  I often work during the days and weekends.

Once in a great while Bill and I would go out for breakfast but I never cook breakfast at home for the both of us.  Bill doesn't eat lunch.  I do.

One of my favorite lunches - grilled chicken and soup - Rehoboth Beach, DE - 2012

Bill has his "dinner" around 4 in the afternoon.  I have my dinner, when I'm not working at the hotel, anywhere from 6 pm to 11 pm.  Yes, sometimes I have dinner right before I go to bed and don't tell me it's bad for my weight.  I still weigh the same as I did the day I graduated from high school in 1959 (160 lbs.)

Me - dinner at Cracker Barrel somewhere in Virginia - 2012

The first couple of years at Casa Tipton-Kelly we invited friends over for dinner.  I still liked putting on a big dinner but maybe not so much now.  I think some of the fun went out of it was when I was told what my guests liked and didn't like.  One guest I couldn't cook any chicken dishes because she had visited a chicken processing factor and couldn't bear the thought of ingesting one of those feathered fowl, even though there were plucked by the time they reached my dinner table.  She likes fish and steak.  I don't cook fish and steak.  We haven't had steak in over forty years.  We also don't eat veal (another fav of hers) or lamb.  A habit I got from my father, who once worked in a slaughter house, I don't eat baby animals.

Me - dinner at Panera Bread Johnson City, Tennessee - 2012

Shortly after we moved in I met another long term gay couple who I invited over for dinner.  I had them over a few times but ended that relationship when I discovered that just because two couples are gay doesn't mean they are compatible.  We weren't compatible at all.  They were like Martha and George in "Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolff!"  Plus, "Martha" complained about everything I put before him from the size of the fork to my choice of beverages to be served with the meal.  I soon ended that friendship without regrets.

For a while we had another "friend" over occasionally for a Saturday night get together.  That worked well for a while because I could again put on a nice dinner without fear of not serving the right food or having utensils large enough to shovel the food down one's gullet.  Occasionally our "friend" would invited us over to his house for dinner.  While I never particularly cared for what he served (unlike my former guests I was never rude and complained), both Bill and I did enjoy the camaraderie of a gathering of friends.

But alas, all good things must end.  This former friend took offense to something I wrote about in my blog (actually several things) in which he thought I was referring to him.  He sent me a terse e-mail saying "Sorry I wasted your time. Bye!"  Just like that, an end of what I thought was a solid friendship.

Me - breakfast at Hampton Inn Virginia - 2012

These days I cook for myself.  I eat by myself.  Bill cooks for himself and also eats by himself.  At this time of our life this works fine for us.  And to be quite frank, I have no desire to do the formal company sit down dinners.  The magic has gone folks.

Me cooking breakfast in our Philadelphia kitchen 1969

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch.  We met at Panera Bread. The food was good (I had creamy tomato soup and half Cuban panini sandwich.  Excellent lunch, good company and I didn't have the stress of cooking on a hot day.  And you know what folks?  I like it.

Tonight I'll have a grilled hamburger (on my George Foreman grill), a big tablespoon of my homemade potato salad (I make the BEST potato salad) and maybe some homemade salsa and a fresh corn on the cob ear of corn.  That's all I need for dinner these days.

For breakfast I have a bowl of cereal (usually Corn Chex) and a banana or strawberries.  Lunch is a bowl of soup from Panera (I buy a quart at a time), a hummus wrap sprinkled with Feta cheese and Doritos chips on the side.  Don't tell me about the calories.  As I said before, I still weigh the same (160 lbs) that I did when I graduated from high school fifty-three years ago (1959).

Will I ever cook a sit down dinner again?  Maybe but I don't plan on setting a spread out anytime in the near future and that is just fine with me.

Me - lunch in Toccoa Georgia - 2012


anne marie in philly said...

you can cook for me ANYTIME, hon!

Mark said...

Ron, when I visit next, I expect a full 9 course meal with the appropriate wines served. And make sure you don't mix up my salad fork with the meat fork. ha!
Raising the kids, we sit for dinner together every evening. It's hard work instilling manners into these kids. It never ends!

Ur-spo said...

When it comes to retirement, people have different dreams about it. Some want to travel or do a new hobby. Me? I want to cook, lots; a new dish every day. Oh what joy that would be. It is like saying "finally I can eat proper food, as a reward for making it here." The list of dishes to try grows larger every year.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,

I can understand one of your goals when you retire is to cook. I felt that same way when I moved in with Bill. Finally I could be unleashed! However, after many, many years of cooking, I am over it. I hope you get a chance to reach your retirement goal of cooking for friends. Always enjoyable to have friends over for dinner and I always looked forward to those events. Not so much now. I remember my Mother said the same thing when she got older. Maybe this is just another aspect of the Golden Years.


Ron said...


Yeah, right. Maybe a few years ago. Not at this time in my life. I'm just not into it. Sorry.


Ron said...

Anne Marie,

Shame I didn't know you when we lived in Philly. I would have loved to whipped up a dinner for you. Unfortunately, I'm burned out now. I've lost interest. As I told Dr. Spo, probably yet another aspect of getting older.


Amanda said...

Ron, I have asked before and might have miss it since I work so much and don't always turn my computer on but
can you post the recipe for your potato salad? You might have to leave me a message on Facebook when you do so.
I want to make sure I have it. I know you are a good cook and you love good food, so I have been really looking forward for that recipe. Thanks. (I am taking the time reading the posts I have missed the past few days).

Ron said...


Yes, I will post my potato salad recipe. I have to find a picture of it first. I like to post my own pictures on my blog. I try to stay away from generic pictures. By the way, NO ONE else has this potato salad recipe. It is totally of my own making. Some like it, some don't. I LOVE IT!


Unknown said...

Probably too late to comment on this article, but I found it because I am so tired of cooking I could cry. I am almost 70 years old, female, retired court reporter since 2009. I have 4 children, all out of the home. I have a husband who retired in August 2016. When all children were home, and I was working full time and going to night school one night a week, I fed them. I didn't "cook," I fed them easy food like spaghetti, pizza, mac & cheese, meatloaf, etc. I really never had time to become a good cook at that point. When there was only one child left at home (son), and I retired, I really enjoyed trying new recipes and cooking up a storm. My son loved it and was a great critic and loved my newfound cooking interest. Here is what my husband said, and it is a true quote, "I just want food; I don't care what it is or where it comes from." I interpreted that to mean that my several hours of cooking a really good meal everyday was the same to him as me picking up a triple burger at Wendy's, and I'm afraid I was correct about that. Now my son has left home, and I am left cooking for someone who doesn't care what I make. I have lost my interest in cooking almost entirely. I don't know what to do about it. We have enough money to eat out every day, but I don't want to do that. I have been buying crappy frozen food for a few meals a week, and cooking the same old food over and over that is easy, but at least it is home cooked and tastes good. When I tell my husband about this, he says, "Well, don't cook. I can always find something in the refrigerator to eat." But, see, I am the one filling the refrigerator with things he can find to eat. Get it? I don't want to do that, even. I hope I haven't bored you. I just needed to vent, and I could talk for hours about this subject to any sympathetic ear. Tonight I am making a store-bought frozen lasagna and making toast sprinkled with garlic salt for the bread. Sad. If he appreciated what a good meal was, it would be much easier to keep cooking. Thanks for listening. Sally Smith, Ohio.

Ron said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I'm glad you vented. I often need to vent, that's one of the reasons I have a blog. Last night I had one of those "crappy frozen meals" at work, and I wish I hadn't. Never again. I would rather eat crackers than another one of those frozen, tasteless meals that leave my stomach upset. I don't do big meals anymore but I do try to make homemade dishes for myself, with minimal fuss and preparation. Homemade soups are the best. Also, pork loin cooked in a crook pot is good. Lasts a week, is cheap and very tasty.
Again, please feel free to vent anytime you wish. We all need to vent (smile)