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Feb '08

On the subject of cooking…

The other day I decided by George, I was going to cook dinner. Like, actually cook dinner. Not just reheat something.

You cooks out there may be scoffing, but this was major for me. One of my goals since becoming a full-time domestic engineer has been to, well, become domestic. I’ve always fixed dinner for the two of us, but more often than not that entails simple actions like boiling hot dogs, toasting cheese on bread, pulling a pizza from its plastic wrapper and popping it in the oven. Simple stuff.

So the other day I selected a recipe from a cookbook and planned to make it. I was going to make corn bacon chowder. I went to the grocery store and bought supplies we normally don’t have lying around, like onions and potatoes and garlic, and that night I went to work. I started slicing and sauteeing at 5 p.m. I realized I didn’t really know how to slice an onion. Then I realized I didn’t know how to choose the right size cutting board, because the stuff I cut up kept spilling over the edge before I was done. And it turns out I’m completely clueless about garlic. Well, I got everything in the pot in the right amounts and simmering away. The baby woke up in the middle of this and I had to put dinner on hold while I fed and changed him. Then I put him in the Baby Bjorn while I finished putting the soup together and pureeing it all in the blender. By the time the chowder was ready to eat it was past 7:30! I was worn out and starving. Then came the cleanup that, in between tending the little guy, took until 9:45.

My question to all you real cooks out there is this: IS IT WORTH IT? I got to the end of the day and seriously asked myself what I had been thinking when I opened my cookbook and set out for the grocery store. The worst thing was, after all that work, John didn’t even care for the chowder all that much. I liked it, though, and had lots of leftovers for days. But I still wonder if cooking’s worth it. Am I aiming too high? Does anyone have any good or bad stories about cooking for their family?



10 Responses to “On the subject of cooking…”

  1. tara72 Says:

    WOW, this sounds like MY life! I often make things that I like more than Jonathan. I get a little disappointed when I not only put in a lot of time to making it, but also have all these leftovers that mainly I have to eat. I’m learning, though, to pick somewhat easy recipes made of things I usually have on hand. the magazine from Kraft has some really great recipes in it and it’s free. I’d highly recommend it.

    I’m trying to make a collection of recipes that are easy to make and put a smiley face on the ones that I try and we like so that I can make them again. it’s hard to throw out recipes that we both don’t like or are too hard to make, but I need to do it more. I keep little photo books with recipes in it so that I can go through them easily.

    with more practice, you’ll get the hang of it…just like I’m trying to!

  2. Brinestone Says:

    When I first started cooking, I took a lot longer to get a meal together than I do now, so don’t expect meal preparation to take this long forever. Also, I usually make pretty simple meals: hamburgers, pasta, stroganoff, homemade pizza (sounds hard but is pretty easy), and even sometimes breakfast foods like French toast. About twice a week I do something harder. I aim for my meals to take about 30-60 minutes to prepare. I’m also terrible at doing the dishes and cleanup that same night. I’m usually too exhausted from a full day of mothering, cleaning, and cooking to want to do anything but unwind after dinner. I just put the dishes in the sink to soak and do them sometime the next day.

    Also . . . just a hint, but buy canned minced garlic. I hate cutting up garlic, but I love the flavor it adds. Now all I do is take the jar out of the fridge and put a little bit in my pan. A jar is kind of expensive if I remember right, but it lasts you forever.

    I just made some “recipe” cards for the easiest meals I make and gave them to a friend who hates to cook. Would you like me to email you a copy or something?

  3. Titania Says:

    I suggest asking John to help you cook sometime, it’s more fun (and easier) having help and since you both made it, you’re both more likely to enjoy it because of the time spent together trying to accomplish something new! Just don’t fight during the challenge :D

  4. alicia Says:

    Well here is my two cents. Good job cooking dinner! I have had hardly any motivation to cook dinner since the baby being born and I actually do like cooking sometimes. First of all, don’t get discouraged cuz it is quite a bit harder to cook with a baby. I am realizing that all over again. It is frustrating because it seems like so much effort and then not a ton of appreciation (Koby hardly even eats with us cuz he is so late)- and I HATE the clean up part. That is probably why my kitchen is a mess at night and in the morning. I don’t get to cleaning it until the next day because I am tired. But keep at it and keep it simple! It gets easier!

  5. Administrator's Wife Says:

    Tara–I’ve seen your photo recipe books and they’re awesome! What a great organization for recipes.

    Brinestone–I wish I’d thought of that garlic-in-a-jar trick myself. What a good idea. Next time. If it’s not inconvenient, I’d love to see those recipe cards you mentioned.

    Titania–Cooking together’s a good idea…but during the week I share Alicia’s problem of the husband getting home late at night. We usually don’t cook on Saturdays, but sometimes he’ll help on Sundays and you’re right–it’s nice to do it together.

    Alicia–I’m all for your mantra: “Keep at it and keep it simple.” I’ll try again next week and see how it goes.

  6. brozy Says:

    Is it worth it? Imo, absolutely. (However, 1-I’m biased, and 2-I’m not trying to juggle cooking, housework, and kids.) Especially once you get the basic techniques down and find some recipes you love. Because it’s tastier and can be cheaper. I’d be happy to send you a few of my favorite easier dishes.

    Also, I love the pictures of Wesley. Especially in his blue jacket. He’s a cutie.

  7. TwoBoysTooMany Says:

    Well Shannon, I’ve always thought you cooked wonderfully! I learned a long time ago I only cook things that either have less than 8 ingredients or I substitute pre-packaged bases to reduce the number of ingredients I need.

    Example: Corn & Bacon Chowder

    1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
    1 can of Milk
    1 can whole-kernal Corn
    8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
    1 can whole new potatoes cubed
    1 tsp Mrs Dash
    Salt & Pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients together, heat through and serve.

  8. shannon Says:

    Now, canned potatoes…there’s a thought….

  9. keepbreathing Says:

    It’s all about the 30 min meal cookbooks. Believe me they are awesome. After a while you start twicking the recipe to fit your tastes. It takes time and lots of practice, but eventually you’ll be a pro.
    Ps. Baby bouncers near by will keep both you and baby happy.

  10. Dream Shard Blog » Blog Archive » Moderate Cooking Success! Says:

    […] ingredients and had ideas for multiple dinners! This is usual for some people, but for me, who is not a great cook, this was […]

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