Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cookin' and Stuff

I planned on posting the third episode of Yesterday and Today, but I ran into a plothole and couldn't get out in time. So instead I'll talk about cooking.

I don't like it.

I convinced myself, a long time ago, that I couldn't cook. This is possibly due to a traumatic episode during my college years, when I visited some friends in Baton Rouge. While I was staying with them, they decided to throw a dinner party. One of the girls was from Morgan City (i.e., she was a Cajun; i.e., she was a great cook). They knew I didn't cook but Alaina figured it was safe to assign me instant potatoes. I mean, who can mess up potato buds???

Me, that's who. I still remember Alaina waving a wooden spoon in the air as she yelled "Out mah kitchen! Got out mah kitchen!!!"

You did wha??
I was scarred, I tell you. Scarred. And for the next 10-12 years I didn't cook. I microwaved a lot, but I didn't cook. Then I met the Hub and decided he would be The One.

I knew I should learn to cook.

(I know what you're doing right now - you're rolling your eyes and clicking your tongue and making that disgusted "uh!" sound only women can make and which I've never figured out how to properly represent in words, and you're saying "Hello? This isn't 1965 and a woman doesn't have to cook to attract a man."

I'm not saying Hub wouldn't have wanted to share his life with me if I couldn't cook. But I submit that, no matter what the calendar says, most men are happy to find that a girlfriend knows her way around the kitchen. Cooking is like oral sex -- willingness and enthusiasm are more important than expertise. A willingness to learn and improve is even better. Basically, if you can cook a delicious meal and give a good blowjob, and he doesn't have to beg for either, he'll never look at anyone else.)

It's not complicated. And neither are they.
So I learned how to cook what I call simple, hearty food - meat, potatoes, a vegetable. Fortunately, Hub is a meat and potatoes kind of guy (I have to force him to eat vegetables.) But even though I knew how, I didn't do it often. We still ate ready meals or take out most of the time.

Then the Diva came along and for a few years, that was my excuse. Babies and toddlers don't eat adult food, and I was still working full time and didn't get home til almost 7. And even as Diva got older, and started expressing an interest in cooking, I still didn't do it much.

It's not fun. It takes time away from stuff I'd rather do, like writing, reading, playing with the dogs--anything else, in fact.

But recently, when I finally accepted that all three of us are getting way too fluffy, I realized that losing weight is nearly impossible if you're not eating fresh food - and fresh food has to be cooked. Even so-called "healthy" frozen meals have a lot of crap in them, and every packaged food seems to have high-fructose corn syrup. The only packaged foods that seem to be healthy and "real" are frozen vegetables.

My sister's been telling me for years to shop on the edges of the grocery store--produce, meats/seafood, dairy. Just go down the aisles for flour, pasta and rice, maybe some soups.

So I hauled out the Rachael Ray 30 minute meals cookbook my sister-in-law gave me years ago and then...I don't know. Things spun out of control. Maybe Rachael's cookbook was a gateway drug or something, but now I'm cooking all the damn time. And while I can't say I really enjoy it, I hate it less than I used to. I'm finding my groove, learning the most efficient ways to get it done, figuring out what I'm good at and what not to bother with.

(Again, much like oral sex...)

I find myself buying magazines for the recipes--"A Month's Worth of Weeknight Meals!" "Fast, Simple Comfort Food!"

Years ago I started keeping recipes in a three ring binder; the older recipes in it have only 3-4 ingredients and require nothing more complicated than chopping, tossing, sticking in the oven. (Seriously. One of my favorite cookbooks ever was The Four Ingredient Cookbook.) Now I'm doing dishes with spices and shit--I'm reducing, folding, braising, making vinaigrettes and sauces.

My latest kick is ancient grains - I've been trying to cut the processed carbs out of our diets as much as possible, and I keep reading about the health and weight benefits of non-wheat grains--barley, quinoa, bulgur. For the times I need to use regular flour, I use whole wheat. There have been no rebellions so far; Diva, in fact, loves bulgur wheat.

I still don't like dishes that require a lot of maintenance--stirring, watching, turning, all that.

I recently got a countertop multicooker and I love it. I can cook risotto now without having to babysit it.  On workdays I can throw eggs and mushrooms and ham in it and let it bake while we get ready. It does pasta, rice, it boils eggs--I'm loving it.
Honestly, I don't know who I am anymore.

I've even cooked for other people a few times. My sister and her family will be over next weekend, and I'm going to do crawfish pie in a barley flour crust.

I'm even thinking about taking a crack at gumbo. Yes. Yes, I'm going to attempt...a roux.
...anything that flies, crawls, creeps, or lies still may end up in the gumbo pot.

Just as soon as I find Alaina on Facebook and tell her what I'm up to.


Meg Benjamin said...

Go for it, sister! On the other hand, quinoa is yet another of those things I've tried and won't do again (looks weird--sort of like ghost grain).

Kinsey Holley said...

Meg: Whole Foods has macaroni quinoa - looks and feels and tastes like macaroni noodles. I've never cooked quinoa as a grain - it's got a low glycemic index which is why I like it.

Doing barley flour biscuits from scratch this weekend - gonna add a pinch of honey and see what happens.

Erin Nicholas said...

Kinsey, I love you. I do. You are funny and sweet and sincere and unapologetic... and you even make me want to try quinoa. Maybe.

btw, I hate cooking too. I do it, I'm not even bad at it, but I don't enjoy it.

Kim B said...

I second everything Erin said. I, too, am a pretty good cook. But I hate it! I will have to look for some of these items. I am very interested in getting the processed stuff out of my life, but time is a huge factor.

Kristy Atkinson said...

I hear you! You make me sound like such a bad wife and mother, both on account of my lack of cooking and blow jobs ;)

I can do both if I have to, but don't particularly enjoy doing a whole lot of either!

Cooking with fresh ingredients takes time and effort and tends to result in a whole lot more dirty dishes than oven ready meals... I know, I'm lazy and I should dig out my 4 Ingredient Cookbook again.

Now I feel guilty and I should remedy the situation to ensure my family don't end up 'fluffy' (bahaha, I love that)!

You're awesome. Don't ever stop writing!