Thursday, October 11, 2012

We have a pan somewhere, right?

While we're on the topic of cooking...

Let's take this opportunity to re-watch this little gem of a YouTube hit, just for a minute:

Filmed at my neighborhood store nonetheless.

It relates[ish], I swear.

Whole Foods and I used to be bff's.  I knew which organic cereal was actually edible (it's the peanut butter Puffins), which sheeps-milk yogurt was worth the price, and always remembered to write down the sku number for the bulk almonds.  But for the past year (yes, year), I haven't been cooking at all.

In law school I cooked for basically every meal (except for when I actually went out and tried to have a life).  It used to bother me when people said they "didn't cook," because to me, cooking was just a basic part of taking care of yourself.  It was what you did when you got hungry.

And then I got a job.  And you know the story.  Countless fridge loads of the fresh ingredients I'd spent my precious Sunday afternoons picking out went bad, and I felt like such a shmuck every time I had to throw them out.  I told myself it was because I was busy; I didn't have time to cook.

Of course, I knew I was lying.  There's always time to make a stir fry.  Alllllways.

The truth is, I just didn't feel like cooking anymore.  I just felt like I deserved a break.  A break from responsibility, from discipline, from "should's" and "to do's" and anything that required a list.  Frankly, I needed a break from pretending to be a grown-up all day, almost every day.  So I didn't cook.

And nothing bad happened, health-wise at least.  In fact, I'm fairly certain that I ate more vegetables because of the constant health-guilt I felt for eating out all the time (also, no one wants to be that person who orders two slices of cake for dinner...).  Our credit card bills, hem...they've fared a little less well.  So, sitting by the Seine one day in Paris, Brian and I decided we'd rather spend that eating-out money on plane tickets and adventures or my shopping habit, and made a plan that when we got back, we'd start cooking to save money.  We set a goal of three times a week and said we'd think of it as our fun-enabling savings plan.

Naturally, I started by spending some money (ha) on some new cookbooks* -- the kind that responsible adults own that give you tips on how to prep stuff ahead of time and plan out grocery lists.  Sounded pretty boring, not gonna lie.  I wasn't stoked.

But you guys.  This meal planning stuff is changing my life!  And yes, I am fully aware of how LAME that sounds, and I feel like a total loser/soccer-mom-without-a-kid right now, but honestly, I'm loving it!  Case in point:  Monday night we had Morrocan turkey burgers with dried figs, cumin, and goat cheese, and a side of butternut squash with coriander and cinnamon (and butter, obvi).  On a Monday.  And it took me ~15 minutes!  (I know, I know, lame -- but when your usual Monday dinner is a mall food court salad, turkey burgers are a life improvement worth getting excited about.)

The best part about this whole cooking experiment though, and the reason I'm sharing it I suppose, is really just the fact that every time I make a meal on a weeknight, I feel like I'm making this BigLaw life that shouldn't work, work.**  Which is so gratifying!  It's like, at least I'm winning at dinner, right?

Anyway, I'll try to post my favorite easy recipes as I discover them, and I hope you'll share your own faves in the comments or by email!

*The book I've been using most is Robin Rescues Dinner, which is organized into 52 weeks of 3 seasonal meal plans per week.  The recipes allow you to make some stuff a day or two ahead of time, and they have overlapping ingredients so you don't end up wasting food (also, this is where the awesome turkey burger recipe came from!).  I also bought Cook's Illustrated's The Best Make Ahead Recipes and Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.  I have high hopes for the crockpot -- I feel like you can do incredible things in there.  (Crockpot cake anyone?)

**Alternatively, I may have written this post entirely as an excuse to re-watch that Whole Foods video.  Which (in my book) is totally legit (just sayin').

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Wow, those turkey burgers sound delicious, as well as your barbecue from the other day. Anything with orange and avocado has me drooling.
I normally do cook every day, even if lots of times I end up stir-frying stuff in olive oil and adding cheese-cream for some flavor, but lately I feel like I've lost the inspiration... because I mainly do the same things all the time.
Anyhow, I want to try and make greek-style courgette balls (with feta and mint) , and one of the dishes that I always make and keep coming back to is ratatouille. I am crazy about eggplant, and with the rat, it doubles up as a cold salad or sandwich filling...