K is for Kitchen

A garden bounty Photo Credit: Doree Weller

A garden bounty
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen.

The women in my family don’t cook. It’s not that we can’t; it’s just that we’re not really good at it. We’re bakers. My grandmother, mom, and I can bake anything, but we’re less consistent with meals. I’ve heard stories of my grandmother’s awful cooking. Fortunately, my dad mostly cooked, so I didn’t have to deal with my mom’s cooking often. As for me, I could make food, and it was usually edible. When my husband and I got married, we shared some of the cooking responsibility, but mostly we ate out a lot.

Flash forward many years, and because of some health issues, I decided that I needed to transition to a more vegetarian diet. That made it harder to eat out, and eating out kind of defeated the idea of eating healthier anyway. I expected to be an unimaginative cook when I first started cooking more, and I was. It wasn’t long before I got bored.

Thank goodness for Allrecipes, Chocolate Covered Katie, and Pinterest. Through them, I was able to broaden my repertoire of foods. Things got even better for me once I applied the same principles of baking to my cooking. It drives the husband crazy because I can seldom make anything the exact same way twice. I’m not much for exact measurements, and I almost always forget to follow recipes exactly. But they turn out well, so he can’t complain. Much.

Since I’ve learned to adapt what I make, I also love Pioneer Woman’s recipes. She’s a meat-eater, but with a little creativity, I can modify many of her recipes to suit my needs.

My gas cooking range, once intimidating, is now something I wouldn’t want to do without. These days, I’m actually known as a really good cook! Even meat-eaters like what I make.

Cooking still isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I don’t hate it anymore. These days, my kitchen and I get along just fine.

What Do Playing Records, Cooking From Scratch, Gardening, and Writing Have in Common?

_XE21226One of my favorite games has always been Tribond.  If you don’t know it, someone would read a card with three things on them, and you’d have to guess what they have in common.  The example on the box is a baby, an eagle, and a tire.  I’ll put the answer at the bottom in case you don’t know the answer.  It’s okay; you can think about it.

So back to the original question in the title… What do these things have in common?  For one thing, they’re all things I like to do (except cooking, but since I like eating the result, it sort of qualifies).  Actually, what they have in common is that they require more attention and take longer than their alternatives and are kind of inconvenient, but the results are worth it.

I was skeptical when the husband started wanting to buy records.  This was early on in time when records were getting popular again.  We went to FYE one day, looking for a CD and found stack and stacks of records.  We flipped through them just to look, and ended up buying a bunch.  Mind you, at this point, we didn’t have a record player.  Luckily, Amazon is there for us day or night, and we bought one.

As a kid, I had a record player and one of those cool stereos that played tapes, records, and had a radio.  I got it for a birthday or Christmas, and I thought I was the coolest thing ever.  I had a few records of my own, but I liked listening to my mom’s old records.  I specifically remember liking Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Get Off My Cloud.  (I always had great taste.  Obviously.)

In any case, beyond the nostalgia factor, listening to records is slower.  It’s something I do to relax.  I have to get up every 15 minutes to turn it over, so I actually have to pay attention to it.  So often when listening to music, I sort of tune it out and do what I’m doing.  Records have made me more present, and I get a little exercise.

Cooking from scratch takes more time, but it tastes better.  I know exactly what’s in my food.  I recently read something that said that the average housewife in 1950 burned 1000 more calories per day than women today.  Holy guacamole!  That wasn’t just from cooking, but from other chores as well.  But it made me think how many more calories I burn by having to prepare food, chopping and mixing for a half hour to an hour a day vs. opening a package and putting something in the microwave.  Or worse, pulling up to a drive-through.  Yes, I was that girl 7 years ago (hangs head in shame).

Gardening… where do I start?  First off, it’s my meditation.  Second of all, there is nothing quite as satisfying as eating food I’ve grown.  It takes so long, but the pay-off is enormous.  Gardening teaches patience and nurturing.

Writing is like all of the above.  In order to do it well, I have to pay attention to it, turn the page sometimes.  I have to use the right ingredients.  Too many adverbs and junk words will spoil the mix.  And I have to pamper it, feed and nurture it to get a good story.

What do we give up in the name of convenience?  Is it worth it?  I don’t think so.  I enjoyed all the conveniences for a little while, but now I’m back to simplifying.  I’ve tried to slow down my pace a little.  Now, I’m not saying that I don’t listen to my iPod anymore (of course I do!) or that I never prefer convenience food.  But… often things that take more time are worth it.

I’m reminding myself of that now that I have more time to write.  Sometimes the editing and revisions seem endless, but much like tweaking a recipe in cooking, the end results are worth it.

What do you do that takes more time but is worth the effort?

*Answer: They can all be bald!

Be Careful What You Wish For

My former garden had some incredible veggies!  That's a 55 pound dog for reference!

My former garden had some incredible veggies! That’s a 55 pound dog for reference!

I’m not fond of cooking.  The problem is that I like eating, I like knowing what is in my food, and I like high quality food.  When you add all that up, it means that I get to cook.  I really didn’t want to have to cook all the time, and fervently wished to eat other people’s cooking.

In the weeks leading up to my move, cooking got less and less feasible, as I was trying to make sure everything got done.  Then we drove to Texas over the course of two days.  By the time we pulled into Texas on Monday, I was ready to get set up and start cooking again.  The only problem was that my new refrigerator wasn’t set to be delivered until Thursday.  But I could live with a couple more days, right?

Then we found out that our fridge is apparently special order, and won’t be here until Tuesday!  So I have all of Labor Day weekend without a fridge!  We’ve been using a small cooler to keep a few things on hand, like coffee creamer and yogurt so that I have some breakfast, but I want salad.  And maybe some fajitas.  Lentil loaf with baked potatoes and asparagus sounds awfully good too!

I’m sorry I said I didn’t want to cook anymore, really.  I’m sorry I wished to eat food others made, really.  I promise, I’ll keep my mouth shut in the future!

(Okay, no, I probably won’t.)

F is for Food

DSCN3492I hate to cook.  But I love to eat, and am a picky eater.  Growing up, I’d eat anything.  I never thought of myself as a particularly picky eater.  Except, I never really liked meat.  Then when I left home, I realized I didn’t really like rice.  Or pasta.  Or milk.  Or most sweets.  (I should be a size 0, right?)

When I went flexetarian, I realized I was going to have to cook.  And guess what… it sucks just as much as I thought it would.  My method is to spend one of my days off cooking two large meals, and that’s what we eat for the rest of the week.  I’ve reluctantly admitted that I’m a good cook.  And it’s really unfortunate that I like my cooking more than I like pre-made food.

I cook so much these days that I had to go out and buy a binder and start printing off recipes from the internet.  Pinterest, Chocolate Covered Katie, Pioneer Woman, and general internet searches are my go to places for food.  The other day, a friend of mine mentioned that she was in the mood for beef stroganoff.  It sounded good, so I googled “vegetarian stroganoff.”  I made a stroganoff with mushrooms that was so good that I almost licked my plate.  The nice thing about cooking with recipes from the internet is that often other people comment on the recipe and add their two cents, taking the tweaking out of the recipe so you don’t have to!

Recently, I was able to use a bunch of veggies from my garden, which is a really good feeling.  Cooking my own food with stuff I’ve grown organically feels really healthy.  Now, if only I can get rich so someone else can cook for me, I’d be set!