Normally, there’s a monthly edition post at this time of the month here on Gourmet Persuasian, highlighting the recipes that I cooked, recommendations of the places we went to, and some fun stories about life for the past month. 

However, today, instead of a roundup of June, I need to get something off my chest…

Recently my mother-in-law hasn’t been well. She is staying with us in Jacksonville so that we can look after her while my father-in-law works in Orlando. A couple days later, my husband Han and I quickly realized that we needed extra help for the situation since we still needed time to work. As a result, my mother-in-law’s sister (who is retired) came to Jacksonville to help take care of her.

The number of the family members in the house suddenly increased from 2 to 4 – my mother-in-law, her sister, my husband Han and I. Sometimes there are 5 people because my father-in-law will visit from Orlando on the weekend.

You know how much I love cooking! I cook pretty much on a daily basis and I also have plenty experience of cooking for a group. So by default, I feel responsible to cook healthy and fresh meals every day to make sure that everyone can focus on helping my mother in law get through this tough time. I took them all under my widely opened cooking wings.

Little did I know that I would hate cooking for the first time in my life after cooking for my own family for just a week!

Here’s how it happened.

The overwhelming feeling didn’t hit me until I found out (the hard way!) that Han’s parents are picky eaters who are not accustomed to the Western food, preferring only Chinese food. Since I cook a wide variety of cuisines, they won’t eat a lot of what I make, which is super frustrating since Han and I love to eat pretty much everything.

Therefore, in addition to the regular Western food we normally eat that you see on the blog, I would cook a couple of Asian dishes every meal, mostly just vegetables and Chinese style soups which, honestly, are not hard to make. But the extra time and effort added up and turned into pressure, which accumulated pretty fast.

I had to constantly think about what to cook and do a lot more grocery shopping than normal, especially looking for more Asian ingredients, which is pretty difficult in Jacksonville. In addition, I was on my feet in the kitchen to prepare 2 meals (lunch and dinner) a day for 4 adults which took a substantial amount of time. Needless to say, it quickly wore me out!

Even with Han being a sweetheart and helping me as much as possible, I was still physically and mentally exhausted at the end of every day. Han and I both work from home. We didn’t have much energy left for work after all the cooking and cleaning. The bottom of my feet started hurting and then my knee started bothering me from all that standing. (I had arthroscopy surgery on both of my knees a few years ago.)

I hated cooking for the first time in my life.

No matter how much I love my family, the cooking pressure was just too much to handle. Cooking wasn’t fun to me anymore. On the contrary, it was a burden on my shoulder; it was like doing a job that I don’t enjoy 7 days a week; it was exhausting.

My solution? I literally ran away…

The day Han was off to Barcelona for a conference, I grabbed my computer and some clothes then went straight to Han’s brother’s apartment located at the other side of the city.

I needed a break badly. Everyone knows that.

While I was at my brother-in-law’s place, I had lots of quiet alone time. What happened in the past week was brutal as well as confusing. I wondered if other home cooks had similar experience and how they dealt with it.

I stumbled across this study on PBS that concludes cooking isn’t worthwhile for some families because it puts a lot of pressure on moms (assuming moms are the ones who cook), especially when there are picky eaters in the family and they don’t appreciate the meals that moms spend their valuable time to prepare.

This is a rather controversial topic. My latest not-so-pleasant cooking experience seems to fall into this category, but that doesn’t really change what I believe in. I believe that cooking is such a great way to eat delicious and healthy food affordably while bringing friends and family together – everyone’s got to eat.

So why the heck did I run away from my family then? Some commenters brought up a great point – who is in charge in the house??

In my case, I am not the one who’s in charge in the house since Han and I are temporarily living in his parent’s house, I am just the one who volunteered to be in charge of cooking, putting me at no position whatsoever to say “That’s dinner. Take it or leave it!”

So I’m curious, what’s your single biggest cooking challenge right now?

You might not have unlimited time to prepare food like I do, or you wouldn’t simply run away in a similar situation like I did. How would you deal with your cooking challenge?

I’d love to hear about the difficulties you’re facing with cooking and learn more about your cooking habits so that we can come up with a reasonable and practical solution together. Do you mind if we have a conversation about that? Just you and me. I promise that it’s going to be quick.

Hope you had a good month of June!

 Talk to you here.

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