WATFORD CITY, N.D. — Excuse me for a moment while I make an announcement.
It’s very important, something I never thought would happen to me in this lifetime, and I’m very proud of how far I’ve come in my life, so I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops.
Ahem: Yesterday, my friend called me for cooking advice.
Now this might not seem like a big deal at first glance. I mean, my little sister calls me about every time she’s in the grocery store for a reminder on how to make things like chili or slushburgers or how to properly boil an egg, but that’s my little sister, bless her and her domestically challenged soul. She makes me feel so superior.
But this wasn’t my little sister, or my friend from college calling about that dip that goes over really well during the Super Bowl. No.
Ask this woman how to hard boil an egg and she’ll likely give you answers based on temperatures and yoke textures, because she’s made this sort of thing her living and dare I say, her expertise. She’s taught classes on food safety and nutrition and set up lesson plans on how to make things like butter in jars or how to properly pickle things so that you don’t give your friends botulism for Christmas.
Like, I mean, she’s probably never Googled “how to make chokecherry jelly” right before accidentally dumping a whole day's worth of work down her kitchen sink and running to her room to lie facedown on her bed and cry. Not that I know of anyone who has, but anyway...
This woman, my friend, is raising four growing children on a ranch 30 miles from the nearest grocery store or take-out restaurant and cooks for a crew of men at least twice a day. And I guarantee what she’s stirring up doesn’t come out of a yellow box and rhyme with “Mac the pony has fleas.”
And I admire her. She once hosted a party where her friends got together to make freezer meals to plan ahead and I would have made it except for I was out on a highway somewhere in the middle of North Dakota in my car eating McDonald's while my husband was at home feeding my children supper at 10 p.m., some sort of elaborate elk meat stew he likely took 64 hours to create.
Because my husband is the cook in the family. And in all reality, it’s likely because of him that my friend picked up the phone in the first place, because she knew that our family likes to make homemade noodles together, a tradition my husband picked up from his mother and her German heritage. And so after entering into my relationship with him boasting the cooking skills of someone who once left a failed Hamburger Helper attempt on the stove with a note, “I’ve gone to get cake,” I’m now pretty pleased to report that I can, indeed, pull off a pretty fail-proof homemade noodle.
Which helps me with homemade pizza. And homemade knoephla. And homemade chicken noodle soup. Which was what my friend had attempted when she called with her question.
A question, mind you, that had nothing to do with her failure and everything to do with her success. On the first try. Without 20 years of practice and guidance from her mother-in-law.
She wanted to know, like the domestic diva she is, if she could make the noodles ahead of time and cook them later. You know. Because she plans ahead.
And I was so excited she called me with such faith in my abilities in the kitchen that I seriously contemplated delivering her a completely made-up answer, if only that answer wouldn’t have put her entire family at risk of food poisoning. And so I told her I’d call my mother-in-law and get back to her right away. Which I did.
But still. She called me. And so I call that a cooking win.
And from now on, you can call me Martha Stewart. Thank you for listening.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at email@example.com.