On cooking.

So you know that I like to bake, right? I mean, you want a cake, pie, or cookie, and I am your girl. Hell, want a muffin? How about some homemade bread? I can even make cinnamon rolls completely, 100% from scratch. (And I think that’s an achievement because those suckers take a long time.)

But cooking… cooking is a different story. I don’t like cooking. Oh, and I suck at it. I really, really suck at it. (Side note: one of my college roommates, who had witnessed my bad cooking on more than one occasion (see: the time I set our cabinets on fire; see also: the time I tried to make lasagna and not even our really drunk friend would touch it with a ten foot pole) really liked to play The Sims. She made me my own character, and I had my own house in the game. She didn’t buy me a stove though, since I hate to cook and since she personally had been responsible for putting out the cabinet fire. But she did buy me a microwave for my little Sim house. And my character tried to cook dinner. And then the microwave caught on fire and burned down the whole damn house. And that, friends, is what we call A SIGN.)

Recently though, both Matt and I have been pretty busy on weeknights. Between hockey and softball for him, the gym and book club for me, and dance for both of us, we haven’t been eating dinner together as much. And when my man-slave isn’t home to cook me dinner, I generally end up staring at the clock listening to my stomach growl, because WOE IS ME NO ONE HAS SERVED ME DINNER.

(Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Matt doesn’t really eat many different things. I mean, I’m not exactly what you’d call an adventurous eater, but compared to him I’m doing all right. This means that if I want to eat something outside of the realm of frozen pizza or pasta, I’m makin’ it myself.)

I decided that action was needed. It was time to foray into the world of cooking. Now, it’s not like I’ve NEVER cooked before, so I had made things like lasagna, baked ziti, etc. in the past. But I chose a new recipe to make for my dinner this week. I’m not going to tell you exactly what it was, because it’s so embarrassingly simple that you would laugh at me… but I will tell you that it had exactly 5 ingredients and exactly 4 steps to prepare it, and one of those steps was “Preheat the oven.”

I did realize though, as I started to prepare my meal, that I have never – and I do mean never in my life – cooked meat before. Unless you count frozen chicken nuggets, and I don’t think that you would.

So of course I over analyzed every one of those 4 steps, especially when it came to the chicken. The recipe wanted the chicken to be cut into 1 inch pieces. And I would like to know what the means, exactly. Does that mean one inch by inch? And if so how thick should it be? Or does it mean one inch by one inch by inch? Or maybe it means one inch square so that the entire chunk is one cubic inch. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?

Oh, and then! Then it told me to cook it for 30 minutes or until the chicken was done. Well, the chicken is now in chunks and is now part of a casserole so I can’t really SEE it and how am I supposed to know when it’s done?

In the end, I cut up the chicken into chunks that looked pretty much bite-sized, and I cooked the thing for 30 minutes exactly and kind of poked at a piece of chicken before I took it out. And – it worked! Success!

I mean, this isn’t exactly high class cooking, but at least I’ve had something to eat for dinner (and bring to work for lunch, which is not a problem since I don’t mind eating the same thing repeatedly). And this dish represents the major food groups, which I think I should get some points for.

So, I think I’m going to try to do more of this whole cooking thing. Have any easy (no, really, EASY – ask yourself if a 10 year old could make it and if the answer is no then it’s not for me) recipes that can be transported in Tupperware (for lunch) and re-heat easily and make enough food for a few meals but not so much that I get sick of it before I finish it off? Send ’em my way.



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7 responses to “On cooking.

  1. I once undercooked chicken 10 years ago, and almost killed my family. That was the last time I ate chicken. Congrats on your success, because that kind of stuff is not easy!

  2. OK, I’m apparently as clueless as you, because I was thinking you’d have to cook the chicken BEFORE it went in the casserole. (“Real” cooks out there: isn’t that the way it typically works??)

    As for easy recipes, I’m not so stellar with that myself. I did ask a similar question on my own blog a while back, though, and got lots of helpful replies. You can check them out in the comments here, if you’d like:

  3. My go-to “recipe” (I don’t think it qualifies, strictly speaking) for when I was working and being financially responsible with lunches was: 1 box whole wheat pasta, 1 jar sauce (I like Paul Newman’s marinara), 1 package ground turkey. Brown turkey, cook pasta, combine with sauce and then divide into Gladware. My other usual lunch was a container of baby spinach, sprayed with light Caesar dressing and a container of frozen fajita chicken strips to be microwaved at work before putting on the salad. Sounds weird and was an invention of necessity, but I swear it’s good. Further, if you are unsatisfied with your lasagna recipe, I can send you mine. Very good and very easy. I made it this weekend with ground chicken and everybody liked it.

    In case it wasn’t obvious from the above, I’m like you. Bake? Heck yes. Cook? Not so much. Need to find me one of those cooking men.

  4. I’m the meal maker in our house. Hubby has decided he likes to bake, so I’m quite willing to let him.

    Sloppy Joes are easy: brown meat (drain grease if necessary), add Manwich or your own onions, peppers, tomato/catsup/BBQ sauce/hot sauce/brown sugar/spices. Add bun and serve with canned baked beans.

    If you’ve mastered browning meat, the casserole (aka “hot dish” in MN) options are endless. And there are always left-overs for lunch.

  5. So I like to cook so I won’t offer you any of my recipes until you feel ready to tackle shake and bake. But a GREAT alternative for you is the Crock pot! Because you toss everything in there together at one time, usually uncooked, and then cook for 8-10 hours. It’s very forgiving, the 8-10 hour time frame. Stress free, and it makes enough to have lunch leftovers. I have a great crockpot recipe book I can reccomend if this sounds up your alley.

  6. I like too cook, but I am not too keen on baking. We should be neighbors.

    I’d go with the aforementioned suggestions of pasta dishes. Rice dishes can also be good, and very easy. There’s always minute rice, but I would suggest buying a rice cooker. It will change your life.

    Also, there are a lot of options at supermarkets for quasi-cooking, things like PastaRoni and such.

  7. I’m kind of late replying to this, but I eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I often slice up some onion (about half of a small or medium sized onion), a couple of zucchini, a couple of yellow squash, sometimes I’ll throw in bell pepper if I have one on hand, etc. and saute in olive oil, add some herbs if you want and cook to my liking. Sometimes I’ll throw in some frozen snow peas if I’m feeling particularly sassy. I toss it on top of rice or pasta. If I have some parmesan cheese around, I’ll throw a little of that on top before I eat it. It’s filling, super easy to cook, and I make enough to have leftovers for a few days worth of lunches.

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