Worldrunner3's Blog

June 18, 2010

This would happen. Really.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by worldrunner3 @ 7:57 am

My last post was horrifically ambitious. The (unspoken, but still there) idea in my mind was that not only was I going to avoid processed foods and make all kinds of yummy goodness, but I was going to try all kinds of new recipes.

Well, when you’re not a terribly accomplished cook, this can be dicey. Add in the fact that my darling husband gets home late and wants a “real meal,” (i.e. not sandwiches to make up for the fact that dinner is fairly inedible), and you have a recipe (haha, NOT FUNNY AT ALL) for some serious conflict. 🙂

Yesterday, I decided that I would not let cooking beat me. I went to my Betty Crocker cookbook (fairly reliable and useful, honestly), and pulled out the Italian Tomato Sauce recipe. I might have almost doubled the garlic asked for, but that’s because I’m a garlicaholic. A recipe calls for 2 cloves, I use 3…or 4. Especially in Italian food, because if other people can smell your breath and not pass out, you were gypped.

I really enjoyed cooking it. I cooked a chopped onion and several minced garlic cloves in olive oil for several minutes, then added a large can of petite diced tomatoes that had gotten put in a moving box, 2 small cans of tomato sauce, and a WHOLE lot of dried basil, oregano, a little salt, a little fennel seed, and some black pepper. I don’t usually use fennel, but I knew it would really finish out the flavors. I brought the sauce to a boil and let it simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes while I did laundry.

Omgoodness. That stuff smelled amazing. I was drooling. Drooling like a teething baby who sees chocolate. After the sauce finished, I grabbed the pound of ground chicken I had in the fridge and cooked it with another chopped onion and a couple of minced garlic cloves. drained the fat, and added it to the sauce. This all cooked for a few minutes, and I tasted it to make sure it was good.

It was.

I put it in the fridge for later, and baked a half-batch of lemon shortbread cookies. (That is another post. Nom nom nom!)  Closer to 7:30, I put water on the stove for our whole-wheat pasta, and I waited.

And waited.

Kevin calls when he’s on his way home, and it only takes 10 minutes. I wanted to cook the pasta after he called, so he could have nice hot pasta. But after 8:00, I was so hungry. I cooked a large amount of whole wheat pasta, heated the sauce, and put it on a plate with some awesome shaved Parmesan cheese. I had a Romaine salad with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I was in heaven. Dinner was amazing, and I knew Kevin would love it. He deserved it, after putting up with my kitchen disasters.

After 9:30 (!!) I finally called him to see what was up. He told me he would call me back, and after 10:00 he did call and broke the news that he wasn’t coming home, but would instead stay in his BOQ. By that point, it was very late, and his on-deck time was 5:30 AM. Staying there would allow him to get more sleep than coming home.

At least I have really nice leftovers waiting for him. And the good news is that I have reboosted my confidence in the kitchen. I think part of it is finding reliable recipes. Some of the cookbooks I was using were good and other people like them, but they don’t really work for us. I have used them before, and sometimes gotten good results, and other times not. For now, I might stick with my Betty Crocker and allrecipes.com. Also…measuring. I want to be one of those cooks who can just eyeball stuff, and make up stuff, and blah blah blah. At least right now, I can’t. Girl’s gotta measure. And that is ok. If the food is good and gets on the table when it needs to, that is fine.

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June 15, 2010

6 Months of Real Food

Filed under: Uncategorized — by worldrunner3 @ 10:34 am
Tags: , , , ,

My mother is an adventurous cook, and rarely meets a new recipe she isn’t game to try. I was raised eating meals that were at times delicious. At other times, they were, charitably described, unusual. One meal that immediately comes to mind is her “Athenian Stuffed Cabbage.” Looking back at the meal, I am forced to examine it through the taste buds of a 7-year-old. Frankly, it wasn’t terribly delicious. Maybe I will always have a strong aversion to raisins and cabbage, at least when they are combined.

Mom never lets these failed forays bother her. Her motto is, “There are too many recipes out there for me to spend my time worrying about this one.” She moves on, and dinner the next night will be something wholly different. I admire her for being so casual and playful in the kitchen. I am not like her.

When I got married, I had plans to spoil my new husband with delicious (but also nutritious!) food every night. He would always be blown away by the perfection of my cooking, and everything would be made from scratch. (Also included in these plans was the our-home-will-always-be-spotless clause, the I-will-never-wear-sweatpants-past-8:00-AM clause and the we-will-never-argue-about-anything clause.) Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and my cooking turned out to be like my mom’s, except without tasting good. It was always adventurous, especially for my poor husband, who had to try to eat a little before he gave up and put a pizza in the oven as a last resort against starvation.

I finally discovered the wonders and joys of…the boxed dinner! With just a pound of beef (or chicken, or a couple of cans of tuna) and some water or milk, I could create some dish that tasted like food. I got all the satisfaction of “cooking my husband dinner,” and my husband got all the satisfaction of having a meal he could actually eat.

Fast forward several months, after turning to boxed dinners and frozen pizza each appearing on the dinner menu at least once a week. I read the most amazing book on the way to Virginia: Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” This book reads like an extended essay on the intangible (and admittedly tangible) benefits of eating real food in the context of traditional diets. Pollan observes that many of the items filling the shelves at the grocery (or grocery section of your local supermarket) are not actually food; they are edible food-like substances, manufactured by scientists who cannot quantify the benefits of eating an apple, a carrot, or a small piece of beef. The fact is that many foods and the chemicals in them interact in ways when they are digested by the human body that scientists cannot reproduce in laboratories. As one scientist was quoted, “You can’t do a study on broccoli.” (But you can do one on folic acid, or beta carotene, or omega-3’s!)

I have been inspired to cook real food, and to cease relying on boxed dinners or frozen pizza to keep us from starvation. Bye, chemicals whose names I can’t pronounce, and high-fructose corn syrup. If the item isn’t what it says it is on the label, better not to buy it. Over the next few months (let’s say 6) I will post what I’ve been cooking and how I am doing with avoiding processed food. I will probably have a few posts unrelated to food, because I don’t exclusively think about cooking. (Or I try not to. Yeah.)

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