The Evolution of a Mediocre Cook

Monday, October 6, 2014
Growing up, I somehow missed the fact that I would need to learn how to run a household one day. Even if you don't grow up to get married or have children, everyone needs to learn how to budget, cook, and clean, right? Well, I didn't learn much in those departments. Especially the cooking department. I came into our marriage having cooked maybe 10 meals my whole life. And Ryan? All he knew how to make was rice. There was one exception however: pancakes. We both knew how to whip up some bisquick style pancakes. It's a bit of a wonder how we survived, really.  

It's not that I didn't like cooking, it's that I was clueless as to how to do it. I didn't know how to hard boil an egg, chop an onion, or what the words broil and roast meant. Pathetic! Meal Planning? I laughed at the idea! I'm just never going to be that type of person, I would say.

Even though I was convinced I would never be able to plan a weeks worth of meals, I was determined to learn how to cook dinner a few times a week. So during the first year of our marriage, I spent a lot of time watching the Food Network. I learned how to chop onions, make a few sauces, and saute some vegetables. Giada, Rachel, Ina and Paula..they became my beloved teachers. My experiments were not without multiple fails (I remember one incident in particular involving Kale, and haven't been able to eat it since), and those 30 minute meals always took more than an hour and would end in a dish explosion all over the kitchen. But slowly and surely, we started to eat more home cooked meals. I'm fairly certain they didn't taste great, but I was proud and we began to feel like real grown ups.

As the years went by, I learned how to cook a few more dinners, but I wasn't a "natural" in the kitchen. I could never tell what "secret ingredient" to add, or what particular spice was missing, and never would I veer from my sacred recipes to try and make it better. Ryan continued to encourage me to meal plan for the week, I would make attempts, fail, and again be convinced that I could never shop for a whole week in advance.

 2008 - we made our first Thanksgiving Dinner. Thankfully, we didn't burn the turkey!

Then a few years ago, I met friends who are really good cooks! Watching them cook is like watching an artist...the medium is food and the dishes they create are not only delicious, but are presented in the most beautiful way. They just know how to pair ingredients, and hardly have to follow recipes. And lucky for us, they invite us over often! And lucky for me, I felt like I was getting free cooking lessons. I would watch their technique, ask questions, and then try and copy it at home (again, not without multiple fails). I've learned a lot from these beloved friends, everything from how to make simple meals, to a few more elaborate ones.  

All that to say, that over the past 9 years, I have finally become less of a disaster in the kitchen. It's a pretty well known fact that I'm not a naturally gifted chef, and probably never will be, but what I do know is that I'm more confident in the kitchen, and making multiple meals for my family isn't overwhelming like it once was. And meal planning? It only took 7 years, but I can finally do it! In fact, I can't imagine not having a weekly meal plan. 

We usually make the same 10-15 tride and true dinners throughout the month, and throw in a few new meals every once in a while if it starts to get too boring. We also try to stick with fruits and vegetables that are in season since it's usually what's best for our budget. 

So I'm curious, did you learn how to cook growing up? How to budget and meal plan? It's really too bad that schools don't teach Home-Ec anymore. I'm really hoping to teach both my girl(s) and boys as much as I can on these topics...if anyone has any tips, I'd love to know!

One last thing! Speaking of food and cooking, here's my latest obsession: Roasted Delicata and Butternut Squash! My daughter and I eat it like candy (the boys aren't the biggest fans). With the delicata squash, we chop it up into 1-inch pieces (skin on), take out the seeds, spread it out over a roasting tray, toss it in your preferred oil (we usually use avocado or olive oil), season with salt and pepper (we do the same with the butternut squash, except I remove the skin and mix it in on the same tray) and roast it in the oven at 425 for about 30ish minutes. I check on it and when it starts to caramelize is when I take it out. Delish!

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes it took me years to feel comfortable making meals for my husband. Thankfully my Grammy taught me a few basics. But I now love being in the kitchen. I'm self taught but not able to veer off with my own recipes.


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