Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Building Up My Cooking Muscles

As most of you know because I whine endlessly about it, I hate to cook.

But I like food.

And honestly there is nothing about the cooking process that I inherently dislike. It's just that I don't think I'm a great cook, it is time consuming, and it involves constant grocery shopping. It's just easier for me in many ways to say, "Screw it," and just go out to eat.

But eating out isn't sustainable in a number of ways. And frankly, I know that I don't want to always be the person who doesn't know how to cook. I don't want to be feeding my children (if and when I have them) microwave dinners because I don't know how to cook. I want to be able to cook. I recognize the value of the skill.

And that's why I'm making a concerted effort to cook at home more. Sometimes, dinner is pretty simple. Last night, we had grilled chicken and a salad. Sometimes, I'm up for something more complex. But I realize that ultimately, I just have to stop whining and DO it.

Cooking is like working out. At first it sucks, and you're terrible and you feel gross afterwards. But after a while, it gets easier and you actually enjoy it. (So I'm told. I'm also horrible at working out.)

So, we're starting small. Baby steps. Simple things. And hoping that one day, I'll have built up those cooking muscles and have a lovely repertoire of recipes I make well.


Unknown said...

I highly recommend How to Cook Everything. I learned to cook from it. It's fantastic, step by step, simple recipes, delicious, and it really has everything.

Belinda said...

Best Wishes,

Having a group of throw on the table in 15 minutes meals under your belt is a cooking essential. Even for those of us that enjoy cooking some days there isn't the time or the mental capacity to get all fancy smancy.

Kind Regards

Katy said...

Belinda is right. Having those throw down 15 minute receipes are essential in cooking. I actually like to cook, but often its the last thing I want to do when I'm draging my butt home from the office at 7 pm and I'm fussing at my daughter to do her home work. A good one pan stir-fry can be a life saver at the end of a long day.

Rosa said...

We're actually (after many years) at this weird place where the dishes we like, we make *better* than most of the local restaurants.

So we keep deciding to go out at least once a week (because our local restaurants have really been struggling) and then failing at it.

You'll get there!

Marino said...

like you i hate to cook too although love food. it's more the time consuming thing for me (maybe I'm just a bit lazy).
But pasta has to be one of the easiest meals ever to throw together.
- just boil up the pasta (i love fetuccined)
- heat tinned or bottled pasta sauce (adding herbs etc as desired)
- mix together or just pour sauce over pasta on plates and top off with grated parmessan (or any cheese will do).

Though, not sure about over there but where I'm from cheese is bloody exepnsive at the moment!

good luck with learning to cook!

nmarshall said...

It's nice to hear that someone hates cooking as much as I do (ironic because my mother was a dietitian). I do have a child and started to cook when he started to eat. Microwave dinners are not suitable for children! It's been a long and rocky road. After 5 years I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. Last year I really enjoyed trying new recipes. They tasted great. They really weren't too hard. But they burnt me out. Now I'm back to simple, easy thing. We don't eat out too much, but if someone suggests it it's hard for me not to leap at the suggestion. I think it will become easier someday. At least I don't hate or fear it any longer!

Rebecca said...

I actually LOVE to cook, but only when I have the time. A friend of mine who hates cooking once said to me that she'd observed that people who like to cook, cook when they're not hungry. I think she hit the nail on the head! If you're already hungry it's too late to cook... you just need to get food ASAP.

So my strategy is to set aside time for cooking, and make things in HUGE quantities. Then you can either freeze it or put it in the fridge until you need it, so that when it's time to eat it's not a big deal. Leftovers are your friend!

Plus it really helps to learn how to get beyond recipes. I learned this very quickly when we joined a CSA farm and every week I'd be facing a new box full of unknown vegetables that I had to make something out of. I learned that you can scramble just about anything up with eggs, you can stir fry anything, and you can chop up any veggie (except leafy greens) toss them with some olive oil & parmesean and bake for about 30 minutes and it's delicious.

My other theory is that if you learn "spice groups" then you don't have to think about it. Like... basil, onion, garlic & oregano are Italian. Cumin, cardamom, coriander & turmeric are Indian. Chili & cumin are Mexican. Soy sauce, ginger & hot peppers are Asian. Makes it easy...

Good luck!

BTW - here's a link to some stuff I posted ages ago with lots of tips for people who don't think they can cook: http://www.mercantilium.com/cooking/index.htm