Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Formerly Bad Cook Wants Chance to Try Again

DEAR HARRIETTE: I learned how to cook a few years ago after I had my daughter. Up to then, my husband and I ate out pretty much every day. Even if we ate at home, we would buy takeout. We ate healthy, all things considered. In our city, it is easy to find good food that is not expensive. Now I have a few key dishes that I make that are pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The problem is that my relatives remember that I never cooked before, so they constantly tease me when we have family get-togethers. When I offer to cook something, they try to convince me not to do it. They say they don’t even want to try my cooking. I am offended by that. How can I get them to taste my new recipes? -- Introducing the Cook

DEAR INTRODUCING THE COOK: Work with whoever the host is to include some of your dishes at family gatherings. Don’t make a big fuss of it; just serve the food. Allow someone to compliment one of your dishes, at which point you can let them know that you made it. Stop seeking their approval, as it sets you up for that family teasing. Instead, just do your thing. Make the dishes, and let them enjoy. Over time, you will win them over.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My uncle died, and when I asked his daughter, my cousin, if I could have one of his bow ties as a memento of sorts, she refused. She told me that she had already given them to her husband, and there were none left. That sounds crazy to me. My uncle was 90 years old, and he wore bow ties every day. He must have had a hundred of them. She couldn’t spare one? That hurt my feelings. Should I say anything else to her? I know that people get weird when they grieve, but I don’t think it was too much to ask for one of his bow ties. -- Stingy Cousin

DEAR STINGY COUSIN: You are right to recognize that people act strangely when their loved ones die. It is best to practice detachment about the deceased’s belongings because anything else usually leads to hurt feelings. This is much easier said than done, by the way. Your cousin seems overly attached to her father’s belongings. She is clearly in pain.

Give it some time. When you talk to her later on, you may want to mention your desire again. Tell her that you know she gave all of her dad’s bow ties to her husband, but you still long to have one of them. Ask her if it is OK for you to ask her husband to share one with you. If your second request doesn’t snap her out of her selfishness, just let it go. You have the memories of your uncle. That may have to suffice. Do your best to forgive your cousin. One day she may wake up and realize that she is not the only one grieving.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)