Let's cook! shall we?

I was always under the impression that cooking was pretty difficult. In my mind, cooking meant that mashed potatoes could easily get mushy, cheese cake would always crack, meat would probably be under- or overcooked but never right, and lasagna took a whole day to prepare. When it was my turn to make dinner in college I played it safe: quesadillas, spaghetti, and even one time kid's meals from Wendy's (it was a stressful week at school, alright?). I remember one college afternoon racing home from class because I was getting shaky for lack of calories. I think I ate around 5 bowls of cereal in 3 minutes. Thank goodness my roommates were excellent cooks so I ate well. And they made cooking look easy, but I still wasn't believin' it.

Married life became another practice in denying the cook in me. Spaghetti had not left my repertoire, rice and beans joined the mix, and German pancakes were my specialty. I branched out in other areas, but I stayed safe within the bounds of what I thought was simple.

Fast forward a few years to now. I am realizing that cooking is not hard, at all. Sure cheese cake cracks but so does almost everyone else's, mashed potatoes are easy, meat can be cooked perfectly, and lasagna can be done in so many different ways (one recipe I've mastered takes an hour, tops!). It's not the cooking that is hard, it's the planning. A cook must plan on what she is making and then secure the ingredients. I am ashamed to admit that I thought I wasn't good at cooking because I couldn't make anything with what was in my pantry. Pish posh! This is difficult for anyone especially if you haven't been to the grocery store for two weeks and all you're left with is kidney beans and frozen corn.

So with my planning notebook in hand and my dislike for grocery shopping pushed to the side, I have become a better cook. I have learned to make things I've always wanted to try. For example:
pie crust
chocolate cake from scratch
good pizza dough
shrimp masala
london broil
eggplant parmagiano (see photo)

Surely, I've got ways to come as a cook, but I'm very much enjoying it. Every night I look forward to making dinner. It's a neat process. Sometimes I flip through magazines and books making goals for future cooking attempts, some of which include:
carrot cake
lava cake
pudding from scratch
homemade pasta
homemade bread made with my own starter
successfully baking a turkey and making stuffing from scratch

And there you have it. I've found the cook it me. Sometimes I wish I could go back and make steamed tilapia and fresh green beans for my roommates. I'm sure they would have enjoyed that more than a kid's meal . . . at least I hope they would have. It's hard to beat a Frosty with fries.


jamesandlindsaylattin said...

You're too hard on your college cooking skills. :) I battle with my inner cook. I like to eat so I cook.

Amesbury said...

Ash, I don't remember you being a terrible cook at all. In fact if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have added rice, black beans and cheese to my menu repetoire.

Angie said...

London Broil?? I'm impressed. I want the lasagna recipe that takes an hour. I'm still under the impression that it takes all day. That may also be because the only time I made it, I made 4 at the same time!

The Jeff Bylund Family said...

I have to say that I actually REALLY enjoyed the kids meal in college. :) It reminded me of when we would make quick runs to Wendy's during lunchtime in college. However, I would DEFINITELY have enjoyed some tilapia (sp?) though. :) I love reading this blog, and it was GREAT to talk to you the other day.

The Jeff Bylund Family said...

correction... high school on the last comment (not college)