adventures in cooking

Everyone who knows me knows that I am no cook. I freely admit it. I don’t think that I am bad at cooking when I do cook (umm, until tonight), but I just don’t like to do it. I don’t like to chop things, I don’t like it that it seems like you have to be doing ten things at once at the end and everything gets all crazy, and I especially don’t like to clean up the kitchen. And the bottom line for me is that I would prefer to eat cereal for breakfast, a sandwich or salad for lunch, and maybe a piece of fruit for dinner (probably followed by ice cream after the kids are in bed). However. My kids need to eat dinner, and Hunky is also a dinner fan, I want to eat and feed my kids healthy food. As not processed as possible. And since I don’t have a Publix here, where there are all types of food made there that you can go home and stick in your oven and voila! – you have crabmeat stuffed salmon (oh Publix, I miss you so), this means I need to cook. I was pretty much off the hook all summer thanks to my mom, who is a really good cook, and actually enjoys going on to the Food Network or Rachel Ray or whatever website to look for recipies that look good. I know – I can’t believe I’m her daughter either. Anyway, its my kitchen again, and I really am making an effort. When Carolyn and Ted were here (still waiting for Hunky to do that update), Carolyn gave me some easy tips, and I’ve been hitting up my friends here (who all seem to enjoy cooking – weirdos) for simple recipies. Which brings us to tonight. Last week a friend told me that she fixes butternut squash and sweet potatoes for her family all the time – and that its really easy. Just cut the squash in half, peel and quarter the potatoes, and bake em for about a half hour. So I do this – except I cook the whole shebang for about 50 minutes, since that is what my Betty Crocker cookbook says (yes, I own lots of cookbooks…and yes, they are in pretty much pristine condition). Well, it all turned out, shall I say, REALLY GROSS. 50 minutes wasn’t enough to get the potatoes cooked, and the squash wasn’t totally done either, and I gave the kids sugar/cinnamon mixture to dip the pieces of potato in and STILL  they wouldn’t eat it, and I can’t blame them, because it was NASTY. And I like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. To add to our dining pleasure, I had tried to saute some asperagus (if thats what it means when you put some olive oil in a skillet and then add the asperagus and cook it). Aside from the thousands of tiny oil burns I acquired, this was also not tasty, although I really blame that on the asperagus itself, which was purchased from the commissary, and WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN? The Free Rice definition of commissary should not be “grocery store” so much as “the place from which bad produce is bought”. So the kids ate about nothing for dinner, and the only saving grace is that Hunky is flying tonight and was therefore not present to witness the disaster.

What to do, blogland? This is the first really bad meal that I’ve made from scratch, and I feel like such a failure. Why is it that something that women have been doing for thousands of years for their families comes so hard (and feels like such drudgery) to me? I need help – how do you figure out something different to make all the time? If it were up to me, I’d serve up baked fish (about any warm-water fish will do, and Carolyn taught me how to fix it) with a steamed veggie, and some sort of starch (baked potato, rice, etc) every night, but my kids and husband seem to like variety for some reason. I need an aresenal of pretty easy things that I can make that involve a minimum of crazyness to make it all come together at the end. Oh yeah, and raw meat kinda makes me want to hurl – especially chicken, but I can handle steak and pork and even hamburger meat – just not browning hamburger meat. Poultry bothers me – I know too much about chickens while they’re alive, I think. So can ya’ll help a sista out? My family begs you.

Before we move on to more pleasant topics, let me add that recently I’ve been kinda doubting myself not so much as a mom as a housewife. I don’t like to cook, I really really really miss having a cleaning service like we did in Florida…I just don’t like doing chores. I like playing with the boys, I like staying in my pjs half the day sometimes, I like to meet up with my friends in the middle of a weekday, I like to kick back and watch tv or check email during naptime. Its just weird, ’cause sometimes I feel like I have the hardest job in the world, being a mother of toddlers/preschoolers with a husband who’s gone half the time… and other times I feel really guilty because I’m not using the degree it took me 8 years of higher education to get, I don’t like to cook or clean, and I get to hang out with my friends alot. I don’t know – I’ve been contemplating the idea of going back to work 1 day a week to earn enough money to pay for a maid, but I kindof like not working outside the home. I’m used to it. I’m so used to it that sometimes I imagine I’ll never work as a vet again. And I have mixed feelings about that. Anyway, lets move on, shall we?

***Edited to add: this post was waaaay too long, so I’ve split it into 2. So to move on you have to go to the next post

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “adventures in cooking

  1. Jeannie

    I like to cook only EASY things. I keep the chopping to a minimum, and if it has more than like 7 easy ingredients, I’m not into it. Check out allrecipes.com. You can search for anything you want, and you can read reviews that people wrote. Most of the things I have tried there are pretty good.

    As for sweet potatoes, I wrap them in plastic wrap (my mom just uses a paper towel) and throw them in the microwave for about 10 minutes for 2 sweet potatoes. When they are pretty squishy, I put a little butter on them and some cinnamon and nutmeg and brown sugar. They are SO.FREAKIN.GOOD. that way. I promise. Just cook them til they are pretty squishy.

    We usually plan our meals on Sunday. I pick a couple and John picks a couple. Then one of us goes to the store to get the stuff we need, and each night we can just pick whatever meal on the list strikes our fancy. I try not to repeat a type of meat in the week, so I’ll pick a pork dish, a beef one, a chicken one, one fish one, and so on. And like I said, they all must be easy and quick.

    I love getting frozen Asian veggies and adding some beef and doing a quick stir fry. We add some soy sauce and some Szchechuan sauce (which is a bit spicy) and it is done in about 5 minutes.

    Do you have a crockpot? I buy a pork roast, throw it in the crockpot with a tiny bit of water, some salt and pepper, and let it cook on low for about 8 hours. It takes almost NO effort. I make a veggie and a sweet potato to go with it. It is delicious.

    I steam most of my veggies. I just put some water in the skillet, put the veggies in a steamer dish (mine was really inexpensive) and cook them for a few minutes. I usually add butter or olive oil to make them a little more tasty. This is how I do my asparagus — just make sure you are breaking the bottom ends off of the asparagus. They are not so good to eat.

    I know you have cookbooks, but I’d look for some that are “quick and healthy” or something like that. They have some cookbooks that are 5 ingredients or less. If you have a crockpot, get a crockpot cookbook. Those things are awesome, especially if you don’t like to cook.

    OK, this is quite the rambling reply, but I hope it helps. Let me know what you try! Love you!

  2. Beth

    I’m not much for cooking either. I don’t mind the cooking…I just hate the planning. I want all the ingredients to be readily available, and they never are! My hubby on the other hand can come up with something off the top of his head, with the few things we have in the fridge. Case in point: Last night he made an excellent soup, that he made up as he went along….using a recipe that looked completely different than what he made. I don’t have that kind of creativity!!! And unfortunately, Steve LOVES variety. Ugh.
    But, he knows my limitations.

    My quick and easy recipe…Spaghetti. I get a jar of nice spaghetti sauce, nothing cheap. Then I add one or two jars of petite diced tomatoes, drained, and about a 1/4 cup of red wine. Makes the sauce taste homemade. Steve loves it and always wants to know what I did to make it yummy. 🙂 It’s the easiest, quickest thing I know.

    Oh, and the Bertolli bags of pasta. THat’s my cheating dinner. 🙂

    I feel your pain on the cooking front. And I totally feel the same as you when it comes to staying home. I don’t think I’m good at certain things. Like cooking and cleaning. But I don’t think I’ll ever teach again. I don’t know what I’ll do when the kids are in school!

  3. E.

    I actually love to cook, but I have some very picky eaters who have sucked the joy right out of it for me. And I’m right with you on hating the housecleaning stuff. There is a cookbook, I think I have a copy of it somewhere, called something like The Four Ingredient Cookbook. It is full of recipes that require only four ingredients. It hasn’t been helpful to me since there are so many things I can’t eat and so many others McH won’t eat (grrr), but it might be good for you.

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