I'm sitting in my dining room with my temporary roommate L, me with the laptop, checking up on all of my blogs, and her waiting for a date to show up (he was supposed to be here anywhere from a half hour ago to 2 mins from now... jerk). I have a mug of cold tea and a bowl of cooling soup (Thai Sweet Potato from a box -- not a fan of lemongrass, ick). I also have a stockpot with the beginnings of stock on the stove.
I'd cooked a chicken for Saturday's dinner* (with Mister's uncle and significant other), and the time had come for its carcass to be useful once more. After removing all of the citrus from the cavity, I broke apart the easily separated bones on the carcass and put it in the stock pot with water to cover it. (I left all of the garlic cloves in.) I roughly chopped an onion, a few sticks of celery and added plenty of spices (pepper, salt, rosemary, parsley (semi-fresh, there were some old leaves that I used), dried oregano, two bay leaves, etc.). I'll let it cook down for a few hours and then strain it all, then add the meat back into the liquid and whatever else I'd like to put into my soup.
Sitting here waiting for the stock, I realized that I feel like a competent cook. I've always had a fair hand at baking, but my cooking was usually less than inspired. About a year ago, Mister told me "wow! You've learned to cook!" I was ridiculously offended, but he protested his innocence, claiming that ever since I started reading all of the doomer and cooking blogs, I really picked up a lot, but before I really only knew how to stir-fry things (not a bad thing IMO). I brushed him off at the time, but perhaps he's right. (Acknowledgement a year later means that I don't have to inform him, right?)
I didn't need to look up "How To Make Stock" on the interwebs, I just knew what to do. I didn't even need to double check what spices other people use, I just grabbed what would work. Honestly, I could grab most things in the kitchen and make a decent meal out of them, without resources. To make things spectacular if I've never made them before, I'd probably want a reference. But I don't need it. And that absolutely floors me.
I think what I find most incredible about it is it's yet another step along the path of Adulthood. I've fought really long and hard to deny that I'm full grown, that I can be still considered a kid in some contexts. But in all honesty? I'm 24. I've been living on my own for almost four years (and was at school for three years before that, but that only half counts). I've been working full time for almost four years (and back to non-employment and school :-P). I'm getting MARRIED next summer, and if that's not adult, I don't know what is.
But, I can cook now.
*I stuffed the cavity with an orange cut into 12ths, and an equal number of garlic cloves. It was then trussed to keep it all together. The "marinade" or whatever it's called was orange juice, mustard, butter, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and rosemary infused together on the stove top; although after the first 30 minutes I could use pan drippings to baste, so the remainder of the marinade went towards making the gravy at the end. I cook it for the first 10 minutes at 425F, then at 375 for the rest of the time, basting every 30 minutes religiously. This chicken had the most delicious skin of any chicken I've made yet.