Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cooking Totally Intimidated Me Until

I've always been a wee (so, really...a LOT) intimidated by cooking.

At first, when Josh and I got married, it was the same thing all.the.time. And, it sure wasn't grandiose, either. My menu looked something like this:

Monday-Hot Dogs with Canned Chili
Tuesday-Chicken Breasts (dry but edible) with boxed Mashed Potatoes and canned Green Beans
Wednesday-Tacos and Burritos (using the taco season packets of course)
Thursday-Whataburger
Friday-Spaghetti (canned sauce) with packaged salad and bread if we were being fancy
Saturday-Eggs and eat out the rest of the day
Sunday-Eat out all day

This didn't change much. We had other easily thrown together meals like baked in the microwave potatoes with chili, taco salad, and turkey ham with potatoes. I thought I was big stuff when I learned to stir-fry chicken and veggies!

Then one day Josh complained. Oh, I'm not talking a big complaint...just a mention that we eat the same thing all the time. I was as tired of it as he was, but it still hurt my feelings. And...I got a little intimidated. I stared at the list, the same one. What was I supposed to do? I knew he didn't want that, but what else did I know how to cook? Nothing.

We ate fast food a lot after that. We tried making it as healthy as we could...ya know, Panera Bread, Jason's Deli, and the like. But, we still ate Whataburger more than I'd like to admit and it was getting expensive. We were looking to buy a house in the near future and cooking would have to become a priority. I truly didn't know what to do. My next door neighbor and best friend taught me one meal and Josh's mom gave me another recipe that became a quick favorite...but it wasn't enough.

What was I going to do?

Then, I stumbled on this cookbook while browsing Barnes and Nobles shelves:

How to Boil Water, life beyond takeout
 
I laughed out loud right in the middle of the bookstore and then quickly hid the title against my chest to go find a seat and browse. As you can see, I bought it!
 
And, as you can see, I USED it! I used it so much that it began falling apart. It was fabulous. I had to put my favorite ones in sheet protectors!

 
It seriously had stuff *I* already knew:

and a lot I didn't.
 
I read the entire book--actually read it, and learned.
 
Now, don't get me wrong. Our menus didn't change over night. Here's what they looked like shortly after reading this book.
 
First week or two:
 
Monday-Hot Dogs with Canned Chili
Tuesday-Chicken Breasts (dry but edible) with boxed Mashed Potatoes and canned Green Beans
Wednesday-Tacos and Burritos (using the taco season packets of course)
Thursday-Whataburger
Friday-Spaghetti from the book
Saturday-Eggs and eat out the rest of the day
Sunday-Eat out all day

A month later:

Monday-Hot Dogs with Canned Chili
Tuesday-Chicken Breasts (yum! I figured it out) with boxed Mashed Potatoes and canned Green Beans
Wednesday-Tacos and Burritos (using the taco season packets of course)
Thursday-Whataburger
Friday-Spaghetti from the book with "real" salad and bread if we were being fancy
Saturday-Eggs and eat out the rest of the day
Sunday-Eat out all day

A few months later:

Monday-Eat Out
Tuesday-Chicken Breasts with boxed Real Mashed Potatoes and canned Green Beans
Wednesday-Tacos and Burritos (using a recipe from the book)
Thursday-Whataburger
Friday-Spaghetti from the book with "real" salad and bread if we were being fancy
Saturday-Pancakes (big hit for the kids!) and eat out the rest of the day
Sunday-Eat out all day

A Year later:

Monday-King Ranch Chicken that Josh's mom taught me
Tuesday-Chicken Stir Fry
Wednesday-Tacos Picadillo from the book
Thurday-Salmon from the book with rice and peas
Friday-Date with Josh
Saturday-Egg Burritos and eat out the rest of the day
Sunday-Eat out all day

I wasn't a quick study, but there was progress! Josh noticed, and the next Christmas I got The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It was chock full of pictures and simple, doable recipes...and my cooking took another leap. Now, we're eating at home every breakfast but Sunday, lunch every weekday and most Saturdays, and I'm cooking dinner 4-5 nights a week!! I never thought I'd get there--seriously.


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