Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On cooking vs. outfits

  I've been wondering something lately: what do style enthusiasts do when we cook?

  I've seen recipe and cooking blogs, but they always feature immaculately clean, macro shots of photogenic ingredients with diffuse white lighting on tastefully coordinated pale backgrounds.

  My kitchen does not look like that.
  This is our kitchen. My equipment is a hodgepodge of thrifted gadgets. And when I cook, my clothes are definitely in a hazard zone, because there are always steam, oil and as often as not, pungent Asian sauces flying through the air. Also, we have way too many refrigerator magnets.

  One day I would love to live somewhere with a working dishwasher, unbroken shelves, and counters that aren't warped and peeling, but until then, this is where I do my work, and I love being in this room.
  Sometimes I am tempted to invest in a safety mask, particularly when throwing water or tea onto a hot pan to steam dumplings, or when chopping a particularly feisty onion. (My roommate refuses to use my lab goggles. Maybe he thinks they are tears of penance for chopping aromatics.)

  I been competent enough since a young age to feed myself, but it wasn't until I went back to school and started cooking every night to save money that I loved cooking. Prepping ingredients became calming, and when a dish turns out right I do a little happy dance, thinking I am awesome.

  Things I have learned:
  1) Lamb fat does not come out. There will be a subtle greasy spot on the abdomen of my Pure + Good hoodie and my Old Navy dress forever. Surprisingly, I have not tried layering the two items to see if the grease stains match up. Future outfit idea noted.

  2) Green tea can be substituted for water in pretty much anything. Cook rice, steam dumplings, and make ginger beer with it. It's very nice.

  3) Cut the cooking times for all meat in recipes you find online in half, and check on it. I swear, people on the Internet overcook *everything*.

  Recently, after owning it for a mere two years and forgetting I had it neatly folded up in a box, I started wearing my apron. It was a gift from my mother. It cracks me up because it looks very much like a country-style apron that I'd imagine well, not Asian people wearing, but she got it for me because I was born in the year of the rooster. I can tell people it makes me cocky.
   Now I don't need to change out of my day clothes quite so much.

  If you cook, what do you do to protect your outfits? Do you change? Wear a full body apron? Both? Please tell me if you wear a safety mask.


  1. I remember, just after I've splattered myself with something greasy or stainy, that I own several aprons. I do recommend Shouts spray on can of grease remover, though. It's the only thing that's worked, and worked on that dress that I meant to treat and then washed and dried before realizing the stain was still right there on the boob area.

    1. Thank you! I'll definitely give a treatment a try. I've washed the garments a few times now, and the faint greasy outline has remained, so clearly I have nothing to lose! :D

  2. "Also, we have way too many refrigerator magnets."-Trust me. You don't. And I think our kitchens are kindred spirits... 70s/80s cupboards and mixmatched utensils (garage sales and gifts... I don't think my room mate or I purchased a thing new... except pie plates and the mini-muffin pan... but those are necessities... right?)

    It took me a while to convince myself to wear an apron (and remember to do so). I did designate a full smock (that looks like it's made to protect small children from finger painting byproduct... which I unforunately need.). It never fails.. wear a white shirt, there's cocoa or tomato product all over me. Wear a dark shirt, there's flour all over the front of me.

    Just a note of caution, don't get too used to an apron... I developed the habit of wiping my hands on myself because 'hey's it's just an apr -oh sh**, I'm wearing my good blouse!"

    1. Oh man, I never even considered I could wipe my hands on an apron instead of tucking a dish towel half-into one of the apron pockets! This is dangerous. :D

      (I too purchased my mini muffin pans new! They are necessary. I've probably used them more than any other bakeware.)

  3. Love this post. Cooking is one of my biggest joys and a few years ago, we renovated our kitchen at great expense. When I first started fashion-blogging, I took pictures in my kitchen and readers made more compliments about the room than my outfits! That annoyed me but I got over it.

    I love aprons for their femininity. Growing up, I always wanted to wear one but was barred from doing it 'cause they're for girls (or so I was told).

    Your discussion of safety masks is amusing. I cook with hot peppers and hot sauces, often extremely hot ones, and learned through painful experience not to put my face over a pot and get steam in my eyes. A mask or goggles makes sense!

    1. Hah, that's why you have two spotlights and a blank wall, now!

      I read on graverobbergirl's site that you're on an apron kick (on her apron post!) Sympatico! I can't wait to see what both of you cook up. :D

  4. The front of your fridge is SO neat and organized. Mine is a disaster area of ABC letter magnets, farm animal magnets, pictures of kids and lists! I wear a completely wrecked blue striped full body apron that I have to replace. I want to get one in white next time, I think it looks much more chic and then I will feel like I work in a patisserie or something, instead of the short-order cook I am most of the time. Ha! XO, Jill

    1. Oh, well that makes me feel better! I think of it as a hodgepodge of shopping lists and receipts, but then it's just my roommate and I here, and no children!

      A white apron sounds lovely. If I had one, I'd have to spray it down with that Shout fabric protector, no doubt. :D

  5. I have way more magnets than you, Ada! You can't even see my fridge for the magnets and pictures on it!

    I cook in my around-the-house clothes, never ever in my good clothes. I do want an apron, though.

    1. You are a master of accessorizing Sheila, so I can't be surprised about the magnets. :D

      The apron thing has changed my life, a little. I was jumping back from the stove when dropping stuff in hot oil to protect my clothes without even realizing it. It made me unwind about stuff like that in so many little ways.

  6. Something i should wear a mask, things fly too in my kitchen
    I love cooking as well - When i was not working it was of my fav pastime
    I still do, cause i like everything made out of scratch, i like to know what i eat
    I have big kitchen with lots of gadgets, my future hubby likes to buy kitchen stuff all the time!

    Take care Aya

    Ariane xo

  7. Heehee! I love your apron. My grandmother gave me a halloween "witch" apron (but I still think it reminds me of batgirl). I usually wear it if I'm afraid of splatter-y foods. Like Sheila, I tend to wear different clothes 'around the house' - usually one of my lesser awesome tees or sleep shirts and around-the-house only jeans.