Follow my journey as I attempt to learn to cook give a shit about cooking.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Epiphany #1

So dinner last night was awesome. 

I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons I hate cooking is that there is just far too much to think about.  What am I going to fix? Is it a reasonably balanced meal?  Will everyone eat it? Do we have all the crap I need to fix it? Are the dishes done and the counters clear so I have a space to work? And even when all this is taken care of, you still have other things to think about: what time are we eating?  What needs to be done in what order so that all the dishes come out at the same time?

Phooey.

So I realized something: I could just fix stuff, and if one part of dinner was cold by the time the other finished cooking, then that is why God gave us the microwave. (For those of you familiar with Flylady, you will recognize the decluttering of perfectionism here.  For those of you wondering "why hasn't the dumbass thought of this before", shut up and go back to pinning impossible recipes on Pinterest.) 

So after I went grocery shopping, I sliced up some boneless skinless chicken breasts and marinated it in Italian dressing.  Later that afternoon, I found a TO DIE FOR recipe for roasted potatoes (not exactly on the healthy side, but must be better for you than straight out french fries), and steamed some fresh green beans without turning them to total mush.  The chicken got rather "blackened" but it usually does, probably because of the sugar content in the dressing.

I also was terribly excited that I didn't set off the fire alarm, only to realize later that the battery in the thing is dead.  But still, I'll take it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

As you can gather from my recent bout of silence, the ability to care about cooking has been nonexistent lately.  I took a trip to visit my folks (which translates to a week long blissful vacation from cooking) which accounts for some of it.

For my birthday I got the best gift EVER: friends of mine made dinner and dessert for me.  No planning, no cooking.  Beyond awesome.  There was enough to last a couple of days, which accounts for some more.

Then there have been the nights when I have ventured into the the kitchen with a plan and ingredients.  These have not gone so well.  One night I was going to make a roast chicken, and I wanted to try out a recipe where you make said chicken in the crock pot.  (I believe I have mentioned before my adoration of the concept of the crockpot, but the inability to find recipes that we like).  They suggested a large chicken in one of those mondo-sized oval shaped crocks, and that it would cook in 4-8 hours.  Rather large discrepancy of time there.  As I had a small chicken and only a regular (off brand) crock, I guessed it would cook in about five hours. I was wrong.  It took a full 8 hours to cook that baby, and by the time it was actually cooked, it was 8 PM and we had already made a dinner of hot dogs. 

Tonight was your typical venture into the kitchen.  I remembered to thaw pork chops this morning, and had all the ingredients I needed (parmesan shake & bake FTW), but when I opened the package of chops I discovered they were so badly freezerburned that there was no point in continuing. (Freezerburn, yuck.  Yes a first world problem, I know.)

I assume that some day we will eventually stop having these problems (although admittedly I doubt it).  In the meantime, I shall hope to win the lottery so I can afford a cook.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cornbread....ain't nothin wrong with that!

 After another weekend of slacking (oh, and Mike cooked the other day, too), I got back on the cooking thing tonight.  Mostly because I had pork chops in the fridge and wanted to fix them before they went rancid and I had to throw them out.  (This happens with obnoxious frequency in our house.)

The problem really was that I find it impossible to have pork chops without cornbread.  And in our household, there is no such thing as "leftover" cornbread.  (I cheat and use the Jiffy mix. 50 cents and dump the box in a bowl, add egg and milk.  Love it.)  However, today is day four in our household attempt to cut back on calories and lose a few pounds.  So you can see the problem.  Devouring a pan of cornbread is not really "cutting back" on calories. 

But I had the pork chops, so I went ahead to fix them.  And the genius thing was I actually attempted to plan ahead to have the whole meal done at ONE TIME.  A complete  meal, not just cereal and milk.  So I mixed and baked the cornbread, then cooked the chops, and then even made some wilted spinach to go with it.  Greens just seemed to "fit" the whole southern meal thing.  They don't have collards up this far north, so we went with spinach.  Honestly, I love spinach raw.  Cooked however, it's not my favorite.  I was explaining to Mike over dinner how I believe my dislike over cooked greens comes from elementary school.  They always seemed to serve "mixed greens" on the same day or the day after they cut the grass outside.  I know, I know, it was just coincidence.  But can you see a difference between a cafeteria serving of heated, previously frozen "mixed greens" and an ice-cream scoop of cooked, chopped up grass?  I can't.  Ick.

I cooked the spinach too soon, so it was tepid by the time the chops were cooked through, but still, progress on the whole planning a complete meal, getting it to the table at the same time thing.  And the cornbread....mmmmmmm.

(Bonus points for anyone who knows where the title comes from.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Celebrity Chef!

Mike and I have recently discovered The Biggest Loser.  I know, I know, we're like a decade late to just be watching this, but realize that we didn't have access to television for years, and in the "early years" of the internet, there was no Hulu.  However, while we may not have cable again, we do have Netflix (hallelujah).  We're on Season 2 right now, and in one episode one of the players did a whole bunch of milkshake shots in order to have a celebrity chef for a week.  All I kept saying as we watched this was that I would do a whoooooole lotta milkshake shots for that. 

Fast forward to today. We were planning to go to the store, but I didn't have much on the grocery list.  Or rather, I didn't have anything, which is unusual.  I keep a running list for whenever I'm out of something, and in the last few days, I haven't run out of anything.  So what to buy? Ugh, that means menu planning.

I've recently just finished The Help, so I've been craving some hometown Southern stuff-- pork chops especially.  Beyond that, I got nothing.  This is not surprising.  But something surprising did happen: Mike started planning what to fix! So maybe I'll get my famous (local) celebrity chef after all?

However, we didn't head out for the store until around 5: when we normally are getting ready to eat dinner.  And I don't do well when hungry. Quite frankly, I turn into a nasty bitch.  So while we were at the store I asked what we were doing tonight, and Mike said he was planning on a chicken and pesto dish.  Now first of all, I'm already hungry, and cooking chicken and assembling all of this will probably take around 30 minutes or so after we get home.  Second, I don't really like pesto.  I mean, it's okay, but considering the sheer amount of oil needed to make a sauce of ground up basil and pine nuts, the calories are not worth it for something that is just "okay."  So we had nachos for "dinner."  Not exactly a good choice calorie wise either, but cheese trumps pesto for me every time.  Mmmm. Cheese.

Oh, and last night we went out for pizza.  Was awesome.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I know that this blog is supposed to help me learn to care about cooking.  But tonight my Dear Dear Mother in Law came over to watch the little one, and she brought along a rotisserie chicken and fresh veggies.  All I had to do was scrub & peel some potatoes.

Awesome.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Further Winning

Last night was awesome.  I made homemade mac n cheese (because we've been watching The Biggest Loser on Netflix, and for someone in Season one (yes, I know, we're seriously behind) their big "comfort food" was mac n cheese, and I kept seeing the bowl of it in their cooler thing behind the table where they have elimination meetings.  (Is it just me or is calling it "eliminations" on a show about dieting just a little on the icky side? Maybe it's just me...) 

I have a recipe for my friend Susan's fabulous mac n cheese, I am unable to replicate it so it comes out tasting like hers (Despite years of attempts), but this time it didn't come out half bad (but still not as good as hers!)  I made a half recipe, because The Little One will not touch homemade mac n cheese, and even baked it in this nifty pottery crock I bought years ago and rarely use.  Not only did it come out good (and not burned), but I made JUST ENOUGH so we ate it all and there were no leftovers!  I made a box of mac n cheese for the kiddo (because four year olds like the powdered cheese crap.  I remember liking the stuff, but it tastes like dog food to me now.  Not that I've ever eaten dog food.)

And today was even better. Mike suggested that burgers on the grill sounded nice since we were having unseasonably warm weather, but instead of going to the store to get the stuff to make it, he showed up at home and took us to Five Guys, instead.

Mmmmmm.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Slacker

Yes, I've been a slacker lately. Friday, we opted for Chinese take out. Saturday was "family fun day" and we ended up in another part of the state-- far, far from my kitchen.  And yesterday was possibly the laziest day in the universe, where the most stressful thing I did was open a Smirnoff ice and a package of cookies. (It was blissful.  If not extremely telling about why my jeans are overly snug.)

What is great about breaks such as these is that after you come back to your regular routine with a renewed sense of vigor.  So tonight, I actually have dinner planned.  Tri-color pasta. Jarred sauce. Bagged salad.  Bottled dressing. Packaged croutons.  Frozen garlic bread.

This is almost a new low, even for me.  Normally I make my own sauce, and even often tackle making bread.  But not today.  Again folks, I call this winning.

0}:D (See the devil's horns holding up that halo?)