31 January 2014

The Fear of Cooking and My New Adventures

I have said on many occasions that TheHusband did not marry me for my domestic capabilities. Stop laughing. You all know it's true. I'm not one to clean the house (hiring a cleaning service has done a lot in keeping our marriage sane). I will do laundry with minimal complaints, but I hate hate hate putting it away (I never said my behavior was rational). I don't care if you put your shoes on the furniture (within reason -- not the dining room or kitchen tables...). And I don't like to cook.

Cooking, in fact, makes me nervous. I've written about this before. The process of finding a recipe, making sure I have the correct ingredients, and actually creating the food brings me no joy. It stresses me out. We eat out or bring in take out (I realize that phrasing is weird, but you know what I mean) way more than we should for the sake of our wallets and our health. I work full time (and not infrequently in the evening and on weekends), so coming home and cooking something at 6 pm, after a full day's work is daunting. To be honest, I like washing dishes better than cooking. You'd think that maybe TheHusband would cook, since I will do dishes without complaint. But he likes cooking even less than I do, and he has even fewer culinary skills than I do (yes, that is possible and actually true. He'd agree.). So that tradeoff is a no-go.

TH and I are firmly in "middle age", no matter what definition you use (and no matter what we wish to think). Therefore, we really do need to take more care with our diet and eat more healthfully (healthily?). A diet consisting of lots of restaurant food is mostly antithetical to a healthy diet, unless it involves lots of veggies and salads. Which ours does not. Also, it is important that ThePinkThing learns to eat well. She likes veggies and salad, and we should encourage that. TheHusband, OTOH, doesn't really do veggies. He's a meat-and-potatoes-hold-the-potatoes kinda guy. And my gluten-hypersensitivity also complicates things. (God, I miss good bagels and pizza. A lot.)

So, on the one hand, I'm scared of cooking, and meal choices in my household are fraught with the minefields of food sensitivities and narrow or conflicting palates. On the other hand, we need to eat more healthful foods, I'm bored of my current menu (and, believe me, I'm being kind calling it a menu), and takeout/restaurant food is more expensive. And I don't have a housekeeper or wife to do this for me. (I've joked many times over the years that my BFF is my wife. I wish it were the truth. She loves to read books as much as I do, likes similar foods, watches HGTV with me, and likes different flavors of Ben and Jerry's so we don't fight over the ice cream. And she is a wonderful cook. But she lives on a different continent, so I can't depend on my wife to fix the culinary problems in my house. But I digress.)

In that prior blogpost, I listed several things that my cookbook-writer aunt suggested I do to improve my (lack of) culinary skillz:
  1. Get a grill
  2. Experiment with soups
  3. Brown the meat before cooking in a sauce
  4. Move beyond potato bread
  5. Buy a small freezer
  6. Try recipes (there are a million-bazillion recipes online)
Out of these six recommendations, I've accomplished one (#3), failed at one (#4 -- TPT really likes potato bread, and I'm now stuck with the GF stuff, so it doesn't matter), kinda done one (#6 -- I have tried a few recipes, really, I'm not fibbing), and not done the others (#1, 2, and 5).

This all leads to Neurondoc's Culinary Adventures (in 3-D?). This week, I've surfed the web looking for recipes to widen our household's food horizons. And solicited ideas on how to make weekday meal prep easier. I don't want to spend the entire weekend buying, preparing, and cooking food.

One of my friends recommended that I drag my crockpot out of purgatory. (Yes, my house house has a purgatory. It actually has several purgatories, most of which are high up out of my reach. This particular purgatory is the only-occasionally-visited cabinet above the refrigerator...) I've found several recipes that I think the three of us will enjoy. I will be cooking some over the weekend. We'll eat the meals (outcomes? products? experimental results?) next week, and I'll report back.