Friday, June 8, 2012

Cooking from Pinterest

I left my parents' home with zero cooking ability. In college, food that I cooked for myself consisted of 1) Ramen noodles, 2) Minute Rice with Velveeta melted onto it, and 3) Minute Rice with a can of vegetables mixed into it and Velveeta melted onto it. Later, I discovered how to make myself a salad, and for seasoning I'd sometimes empty a Ramen noodles flavor packet onto it and crumble up raw Ramen noodles on top of it for the crunch.

When Matt and I started living together and he'd take a turn cooking, he'd make 1) fettuccine noodles with olive oil and a hamburger on the side, 2) fettuccine noodles with olive oil and a smoothie on the side, and 3) a hamburger and a smoothie.

We'd also order a lot of pizza.

Although I cook much better now, it was such a frustrating process to learn, and every lesson that I taught myself I wish that I'd been taught as a child. For instance, it was a long time before I learned that dinner is made more easily, and will taste better, if you figure out what you're going to make before you're standing in the kitchen at 5:30 ready to make it. It was a long time before I learned that a trip to the grocery store will go better, and be less expensive, if you figure out what meals you want to make, and what ingredients you need to buy to make those meals, before you go. It's taken a long time to be able to know what foods go together well in a stir-fry, or a soup, or a casserole. It took SO long, and a series of messages with my aunt, to finally understand that there's a certain KIND of potato that you're supposed to use to make a baked potato that tastes good. It's taken a long time to simply stop cooking with Velveeta, if you must know.

Blogs, cookbooks from the library, and messages to my aunt when I'm stuck in the middle of something are what have taught me how to cook.

Setting aside a regular time in the middle of most days to prep for that evening's dinner, put something in the crock pot, or simply bake muffins or cookies or prep snacks, are what have made me feel successful as a cook, and helped me stop hating the chore.

It also helps that now Matt knows enough in the kitchen to start dinner when the girls and I are out, or finish dinner when we're in, if I give him very specific instructions and don't mind the times when he mistakes fresh mint for fresh basil, or fries the roasted red pepper dip instead of the falafel. Of course he can make dinners from start to finish, too, but he simply doesn't have the time to devote to it that I do.

Anyway...all this intro was simply to tell you that I LOVE Pinterest for recipes! I have the following highly organized (it's a fun outlet for my Library Science degree's obsession with organizing information) recipe pinboards:

The girls and I cook from my pinboards, especially the ones with new recipes, pretty much daily. Here are some of our latest forays from just the past couple of weeks:

No-Knead Bread: I love this recipe even more than the one that I used to make.

Carrot-Ginger Soup--It was a mistake to serve this as an entree, even with these rich cheesy breadsticks on the side, because nobody loved it. I'll serve it again, but only in small bowls with a different meal.

Peanut Butter Balls: Healthy and yum!

S'mores Treats: UNhealthy, but also yum!

Banana Ice Cream: Also healthy and yum! It's thrifty, too, since the food pantry where the girls and I volunteer sometimes gets so many dozens of pallets of bananas that they beg people to come by and grab them. I could fill my entire freezer with frozen chopped bananas and be perfectly happy about it.

In related news, it's been an off-kilter week here, with both girls attending different day camps with different drop-off and pick-up times (not to mention different lunch/snack requirements, different dress codes, and one camp that even has different drop-off and pick-up locations on different days, yikes!), so I'm trying not to feel guilty that I've just written an entire post about cooking and I have NO idea what's going to be made for dinner, nor do I know how I'd make it if I did have a plan, since the sink is full of dirty dishes and I'm leaving for my volunteer gig in a few minutes. But Matt's volunteered to handle both camp pick-ups this afternoon so that I won't have to miss my volunteer shift, so since he's the one who'll be home with the girls this evening, not me...well, dinner's HIS problem tonight, right?

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