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By: Ed Creamer

I’m one of those who haven’t a clue as to how to cook up some grub. Now, I’m not saying I can’t supervise my long hair mess cook when she does. It’s just that they never taught us pot and pan nomenclature during boot camp.

A Mess Sgt. once told me the reason I couldn’t cook was I had never put together my own FMFM type recipe book. Actually, I did try once. I just never found a recipe for toast I could use. There was one for single sided toasters, one for double side toasters and even one for toaster ovens. Since when did cooking become a matter of options?

The other day I decided to make some Jell-O. Simple enough an operation for someone that’s measuring cup challenged don’t you think? Per the directions, I filled two coffee mess cups with water and set them in the microwave to boil. So far, so good, right? The next step called for me to pour the ingredients into a medium bowl. I spent the next two hours field stripping my mess gear looking for a bowl labeled “medium”.

My for better or worse house cook does all the bar-b-q grilling in our quarters. It wasn’t so much I never could fix folks steaks to order such as medium or almost burnt. I tried and couldn’t. She discharged me from the grill. It seems one time I was cooking chicken on the grill and ran out of propane. I left the chicken on the grill and went to the PX gas station to refill the bottle so I could finish the cooking job. Forty-five minutes later, when I got back to cooking, it seems the chicken could have been used as a boot insert for land mine protection.

I’m told some cook by tasting the food, as it’s prepared. Add a pinch of salt peter here, some garlic there and before you know it, it’s a gourmet delight. Others, cook by smell. My mess cook inherited the food-smelling gene and never needs to taste it to know when the seasoning is right. As for me, I cook by sound. When food being cooked no longer makes a sound, it’s done. Of course, the sound of oven doors suddenly blowing open isn’t necessarily the sign of epicurean delights.

I am good at opening cans with a John Wayne though. I can open them with the best of them. It’s what needs to be done with the contents that confuse me. Can content labels aren’t like box content labels. Can contents don’t give you a clue as to what needs to be done with it all once opened. I do know one thing. You don’t put the can and contents into the microwave. Learned that lesson early.