And cake, pizza, pasta, brownies…
Like most people with taste buds, I’m fascinated with food. It tastes good. It comforts. It makes up for what the conversation or the entertainment lacks. But lately I've found myself trapped in a culinary traffic jam of thrown together meals and fast food pit stops. So. I’m challenging myself to bring out my inner 50’s housewife (a health conscious version) in one year – armed with nothing but a few chipped pots from college, knives that barely cut a tomato, and a couple virgin cookbooks.
But first, a little back-story on why…
I don’t know how to cook.
I know how to boil pasta. And roll up burritos. But contrary to my husband’s belief, I’m really just throwing things together. It’s not true “wow this is great, can I get the recipe?” cooking. I wanna learn how to chop onions. Make real desserts without Betty's help. And inherit those in-the-kitchen instincts you only get with tons of experience behind the apron.
I (+hubby) desperately need to eat healthier.
I love bacon. And bread. And cheese. I could (and do) put cheese on everything. But you know who doesn’t like cheese? My waistline. And my thighs. And those things débuting on my sides that unsuitably start with the word “love”. I’m sure they don’t care for bacon or bread, either.
And neither does my husband’s cholesterol level. His arteries are already clogged with years of melted butter and kielbasa fat, a.k.a. his mother’s loving Polish cooking. And while they did clear a bit after moving hundreds of miles from three-meat meals and pig intestine soup, it was short lived. Stressful jobs turned us on to a new fat substitute: fast food. By now, we’ve eaten enough fries to be connoisseurs. But when you’re pressed with impossible deadlines and the agency folks are pushing free grub in your face, what’s a struggling newlywed couple to do? Why, eat for free, of course!
I’m sick of making spaghetti.
When I do get the chance to cook, that’s what I resort to. The tried and true meals that are quick, thoughtless, and include some variation of the same ingredients. Uninspiring to say the least. Ok, my husband likes them. I can always expect an ecstatic, “You did it again!” between chews. But he gets just as excited over Taco Bell double decker tacos. So it doesn’t say much about my cooking. Or does it...
So as I prepare chicken covered in some cheesy sauce with a side of lettuce covered in some cheesy dressing for the 800th time, barely touched cookbooks collect dust on my shelves. See I have this gripping fear that new recipes will send my on an exhausting grocery store hunt for one-use ingredients like fish paste. Or that I’ll spend all day slaving away only to take a bite and wish I would’ve just made a freakin’ plate of spaghetti. So the vicious cycle of routine meals continues...
With a busy schedule (70 hours a week anyone?) there’s really only one thing that’ll help me learn to cook tasty, lifestyle-changing food. Structure. And after flipping through a never used Cooking Light cookbook, I realized that it has just that. Rejoice! The recipes are listed by month and there are tips throughout! That'll keep me from getting lost in a sea of options.
So. Every week for the next year, I’ll make at least one new healthy meal from this book (and another I picked up – Cooking Light: Complete Guidebook). Maybe more than one if there's time. And I’ll post all the yummy details right here. Now off for some of that good ‘ol over compulsive planning I’m known for.