At one point in the not-so-distant past, I was still trying to live down a sandwich I made a boyfriend over a decade ago because, my mom and brother claim, it was too disgusting to be edible. (The boyfriend ate it.) (We are no longer together.) (The two incidents are unrelated.) I was just someone who was very awkward in a kitchen—any kitchen. I didn’t know how to use the things in it; I didn’t know where to stand; I didn’t even know how long it took to boil an egg. But I was trying to live the Helen Gurley Brown way and, according to Helen, “You must cook well.” So I forced myself—first by following her recipes in Sex and the Single Girl, then by making meals for friends and eventually by taking a Thanksgiving cooking class where I learned to make the entire holiday meal, which included green beans, cranberries, mashed potatoesand an apple pie, on gorgeous dishes.