I struggle with anxiety while cooking with others so I have been teaching myself to let go and trust.

I am so controlling that I had a passionate conversation with my uncle over which salad bowl to use. It may seem silly to argue about what bowl to put your salad in, but the size of the bowl can determine the success or failure of your salad.

Too small and you won’t be able to toss the salad with the dressing. Too big and it makes the salad look wimpy and inadequate. But, a bigger bowl is the lesser of two evils. If the dressing is not evenly dispersed then you will some uncoated, dry pieces of leafy greens. Plus, the half-dressed salad can look deceivingly under-dressed, so you add more dressing and end up making half the salad soggy and overdressed!

This is what I was trying to explain to my uncle when we had our first argument in the kitchen. This may have been the first time there was an old west style showdown about a salad bowl.

After arguing for a solid 5 minutes, when he realized that I was not going to change my mind, he gave up. Needless to say, the salad bowl I used was the perfect size to toss the salad. But that was also the point at which I realized that I was taking cooking way too seriously. 

salad, rice, cheese, Dressing, vinegar, balsamic, napkin, fork, carrot, lettuce
Julia Gilman

Kitchen Control

My aunt will joke that they have learned to let me do my thing in the kitchen, but my family honestly does not come into the kitchen when I am cooking.

The kitchen is where I go when everything in life gets chaotic. It allows me to have control when my life feels out of control. Sometimes I may take this too far, but it’s my version of therapy. It may be cheaper than therapy, but it has definitely cost me a few pounds, and I’m not talking British.

I love my family and friends, but I enjoy being alone in the kitchen and being executive chef. I am a naturally stubborn person (I think it’s genetic), so when someone disagrees with the way I do things, I ignore them.

I also have a tendency to be territorial in the kitchen, but it’s because it is my sanctuary. When someone disrupts my sanctuary, it doesn’t go over well.

I can get bossy, I can get argumentative, and I can definitely get stubborn.

Through my many wise years of living, I have learned that if you want to get something done right, you must do it yourself. Although this might not be the best mindset to have, that is one that I adopted.

Cooking isn't Genetic

Cooking is an essential part of my life so when my sisters cook, I want to help them! However, I have learned that cooking is an acquired, rehearsed skill. It is definitely not genetic. But I want them to experience the joy of cooking, so sometimes I come off as overbearing and controlling in the kitchen. Cooking can be discouraging when your food doesn't turn out well so I try to help.

After much internal reflection time, I have concluded that it's not the perfectly, golden french fry that makes them enjoy cooking. They like cooking for the creativity and the feeling of "adulting" because they can actually make their own food and they don't have to rely on Taco Bell four times a week for dinner. (Disclaimer: I love Taco Bell!) They don't need a five star meal to feel accomplished.

I don't think I'll ever reach that point of apathy towards cooking, but I am now striving to find a balance between anxiety-worthy precision and laid-back cooking. 

Letting Go

I have tried to let go and trust other people in the kitchen, and slowly, I have made progress.

I have a couple of dear friends who love to bake too, and they have also helped me learn to let go of the reins a bit. I don’t eye their work like a hawk. I even let them make the main elements of the desserts like folding the egg whites into the macaron batter.

The old me would have never been able to do that. Of course, sometimes I still internally cringe, but truthfully, letting other people bake too hasn’t changed the quality of my baked goods. If anything, it has lowered my blood pressure because I’m not as anxious about letting other people bake. My excessive stressing was interrupting my life and taking away my joy. But now I can enjoy all aspects of life; like sharing a whisk. 

Janelle Porman