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Honored Advisor

Criticism and changing

Mike and I had an interesting conversation a couple of days ago after lunch.  We were watching some Food Network show while we ate.   I cannot recall what made me flashback to it, but I think it was one of the ingredients in the recipe being prepared.   

I was never taught anything about cooking/laundry, housekeeping in general at home, being taken as much more valuable as a farmhand than a housework helper.  Consequently, I came at being a married woman from a domestically disadvantageous position.  On top of that, I had an impossible act to follow...Mike's mother kept an immaculate house, and was the best cook in the county. 

Not having any tricks in my own bag, when we were first married, I had taken a recipe off of a Heinz 57 steak sauce bottle, using the sauce in a meatloaf.  It was awful, even though I had followed the instructions to the letter, and we liked that saue on steaks and hamburgers back then.   

Mike tried to eat it, but it was not at all to either of our taste.  Instead of just saying, "Please do not use that recpie again," he slipped and said, rather emphatically, "This meatloaf sucks!" 

I am sure I took this cirticism quite personally, because the extent of our recent conversation was that I have not ever since been one to try out new recipes we see on TV or on product packaging.  I'd never had a conscious connection between his remark and my resistance to try new things in the kitchen, until my EUREKA! moment this week. 

I am sure it's my OCD "perfect or nothing" upraising, too; but, it makes me sort of sad to think of all the fun I could have had making things for us to try, if not for being too afraid to fail.  Same reason my typing is so bad...I would not take it in high school, at least partly because I didn't think I'd make an A in it. 

To his credit, Mike did finally apologize for his long-ago faux pas.  He actually remembered the meal (It was THAT bad!), exactly what he'd said, and that he had no clue at the time why or how much it hurt me so deeply. 

I guess if you have to wait almost forty years to hear "I'm sorry!" you can take it any way you want.  I know he really was clueless back  then, and he's come such a long way since.  In my heart, it felt like a genuine apology, and maybe I need to actually try some of the recipes in the many cookbooks I've collected and read over the decades. 

In your rearview mirror, can you see a time when  someone squelched your creativity in an attempt you made - even unwittingly - and have you gotten over it or not? 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Criticism and changing

That was standing joke when my husband and I got married.  It was that I couldn't cook...still don't claim that I can and now the joke is that when the smoke alarm goes off, supper is ready..  There are a few meals he has liked over the years, just wish I could make something the same twice!

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Honored Advisor

Re: Criticism and changing

Consistency can be a big problem if you are not a natural cook,  and I am quite sure I missed that gene.  Actually, none of the women in our family cook very well at all, so maybe this acorn did not drop too far from the tree trunk. 

I even tried asking Mike's mother for recipes, and made them religiously to her directions.  Never tasted anywhere near like hers. 

For a long time, I thought she was leaving out something on purpose - I know peopel who are like that!  I finally realized she had a sense of flavor that I just could not duplicate.  I got all of her recipe cards when she gave up housekeeping, but cannot make a thing in the whole bunch taste right. 

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Re: Criticism and changing

My grandmother lived with us, so she did all the cooking while my Mom worked. I did not know how to cook when I got married, but now I am a good cook when I want to be. MY MIL is also a great cook, and having 7 children was very creative with meals. I do get my feelings hurt now, I have been in the family 36 years, and they still just want to bring bought bread, chips, drinks, or other paper goods when we have a family holiday. My daughters are great cooks, so I guess I will just sit back and let the good cooks do all the work. Sometimes it's just better to act dumb, that could be the smarter thing to do.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Criticism and changing

I made a top dog delicious meal one time. After that, the same meal couldn't come close. Makes me feel kinda dumb not remembering what made the first one so good.

I've made many fancy cakes off boxes. The alternative recipe is nice to use for a change. Worse part is if someone wants the recipe, they would rather know which flavor and brand it was on, not how YOU made it. Smiley Indifferent

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Advisor

Re: Criticism and changing

I think that the kids that can cook learned what they know from having eaten their Gran's goodies, and some from hanging out with Mike, who has a way with many meals.  Our youngest is the only one who can come anywhere near close ot the soup she always pulled out of the freezer to feed them when they stayed home with her on a sick day from school.

I should say that I can bake some very good pies, but we can't live off of them, can we?  Mike actually vacuum sealed the two we had left over at Thanskgiving, to save us from ourselves.  We pulled them out and gave them to our daugher for SIL's VFD holiday dinner.  She got lots of compliments, and they weren't even fresh-baked, so maybe not TOO bad. 

It is kind of hard to ruin a roasted turkey, so that is one I can pulll off okay.  If I don't think about it too much, I can turn out a decent meal in the electric pressure cooker, and most of that stuff is good over rice, which is hard to mess up in a rice cooker. 

My biggest problem with making meals is planning ahead...or, more corrrectly,  failing to do it.  I think that is definitely a family trait....

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Re: Criticism and changing

Don't you  HATE it when that happens? 

Second worse is when you find the perfect ingredient and they discontinue it.  Right now, I have found out that my favorite Creole sauce, which I was using for jamabalaya, is no longer in the only store I could find it in to start with...so now, I have to scratch around to find a new one, or go from scratch. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Criticism and changing

Funny this should have come up.  This morning DH was in a foul mood in the parlor-won't go into the "why" but after biting my tongue for so long I blew up.  Part of the problem is we are both tired; putting in too much time for chores. 

My explosion was from not utilizing the parlor by moving the cows through efficiently.  His old habits of wanting hands on (his hands) to check cows, move cows, do the outside feeding, etc. makes things move slowly.  He definitely would never be able to manage employees!  He started out doing these things by himself & even though DS & I are there, and we have more livestock, he is a stubborn man unable to change.

As far as me in the kitchen, I didn't know how to cook when we married but have developed into too good of a cook.  DS#1 & family always want to come here rather than her side for holidays due to my cooking.  Mixed blessing? My DIL has developed into a good I think thanks to the cooking shows on TV.   My first pie looked like a cobbler but now I can whip them out pretty well.  DH says just not as often as he likes! 

My cousin made milk gravy for the first time as a newlywed & the neighbor came in & looked at it saying he just loved fried potatoes-guess it was a little lumpy!

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Re: Criticism and changing

I was lucky to have a mother who is a phenomenal cook and my former MIL who was also a fantastic cook.  You could not spend time around those two women and not absorb their talent.  My youngest DD is a great cook and she is the one I would least expect to enjoy cooking. 

 

From what I hear, I am a good cook.  Once in a while we have what we call a "kitchen disaster" that we laugh about and then order pizza!  But thank goodness those don't happen too often. 

 

Ed has a bad habit of always having a suggestion of how I can "improve" this dish or that.  Then he tears into it with gusto!  Those suggestions can irritate me at times but mostly I shake my head and smile to myself.  My thought is it can't be that bad if it all disappears!

 

I love to cook on weekends when I have time and I love to cook for a big crowd.  I hate to cook when I am hungry and tired after work on weekdays.  I do it but I don't like to. 

 

But your question was about whether someone/something had ever squelched your creativity?  Not sure this is the same but I spent years thinking I was not artistic and that I could not learn science subjects.  In fact I dreaded those requirements in college due to my fear that I might not get my degree if I could not pass those classes! 

 

Well, that fear came from high school when I got my first taste of not being a perfect straight A student.  I was such a perfectionist that getting a B in those subjects devastated me to the point of never trying artistic endeavors.  Plus I refused to take science classes beyond the minimum requirements to graduate high school.

 

Knowing today how much I love and am facinated by animals, weather, gardening, farming.....how fascinated I am by land forms and ecosystems and how much I study issues of health....I realize that was just PLAIN STUPID to think that I could not be learn in science classes! 

 

With no formal education in botany, biology, chemistry, or physics I learned enough to be promoted to District Manager of the SWCD back in NY.  I had only two bare minimum dreaded college science courses on my transcript yet I managed to complete difficult USDA NRCS training programs in hydrology and nutrient management and soil science!  Obviously I can understand scientific concepts yet I still shy away from anything that smells like science. 

 

For many years I also thought I was not artistic.  I think that goes back to taking required art classes in grade school and high school where the teachers told everyone what to create and the creative product had better look like they demonstrated to you. 

 

Does it strike you as odd that they were supposed to develop your creativty but wanted everyones to look the same? 

 

Anyway, I always felt my creations were inferior to my classmates and my grades in art were never better than a B.  Again, for someone who was used to perfect grades, I would buy art supplies and read books about art and admire others' art work with a longing.  But I never gave myself permission to try for fear of failure.

 

Then in college I talked my way into an advanced course in Architectural History even though I had none of the prerequisites.  My professor said that my papers showed unique insight into design.  We had to do a final project that I viewed as a history project when in reality it was an art project.  I loved the project and I got an A+ in that course. 

 

With my professor's encouragement, my confidence began to grow.  I began to take more and more art history courses (and by convincing myself that it was history I was studying) I began to develop whatever artistic talent that was lurking within me. 

 

Today I cannot imagine my life without photography, fiber arts, interior decorating, crafting and drawing and painting.  While I am certainly not a gifted artist, my creations are artistic and give me pleasure.  Others compliment me on my artistic talent.  I have been to the Louve!  I know the Dutch Masters from the Impressionists!  LOLOL  I will try about any medium and am not longer afraid to jump in with both feet!  I love to create and I don't care if my creations meet someone else's definition of beauty.   

 

I understand the "if I cannot do it perfectly, I won't try" syndrome.  It kept me from studying science and it kept me from enjoying very special and wonderous artistic pursuits for many years.  I now am not afraid to try things that I cannot be perfect at. 

 

 

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Criticism and changing

Your architectural professor was a terrific one for encouragement. Often, that is all that is needed to get people out of their bubble. There really is too much criticism from many that isn't constructive. Could that be one of the reasons for the low test scores amongst nations? Students don't learn unfamiliar subjects, leading to the reasoning that if they don't know it, it isn't worth knowing. Such a tragedy to extinguish an spark before it becomes a flame.

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