Monday, April 11, 2011

And so the quest began...

Five years ago I was a single college student, living off of cafeteria food and Rice-a-Roni.  One night a good friend of mine was hanging out with my roommate and me and we were talking while my roommate was making us a great dinner.  "She's going to be the kind of mom whose kids always have a great meal in front of them," she said.  "Your kids are going to eat Mac-n-Cheese every night, but that's OK, because you will have time to play with them, while she will be too busy cooking for hers."  I laughed, knowing that what she said was true.  Really, Mac-n-Cheese?  Yum.  Rice-a-Roni?  Yum again.  Really, why did I need more?

And then I grew up.  College was over, job was landed, and I was seriously dating a Brazilian man whose mother had probably never made a box of Kraft's cheesy goodness in her life.  Suddenly I needed to find ways to feed myself and often a very tall and hungry guy.  And besides, as funny as that comment was, it burned in the back of my mind.  Why, I asked myself, can't I be the mom who has time to cook AND play?  Who says I can't do both?  And so I set out on a quest to learn what I needed to know to make that happen.

That's where Gina stepped in.  First step: teach me to make mashed potatoes.  Oh, I made some good mashed potatoes!  And then I made them some more (with fish) and some more (with chicken) and some more (with whatever else I could find), until Paulo finally said, "Babe, I really like your mashed potatoes, but can we have something else for dinner tonight?" 


Somebody had stepped up to the plate, though, and I had been given the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  If you want to eat it, this book has the answer for you.  Everything from how to boil an egg (which, sheesh, even I knew how to do) to distinguishing between the different cuts of beef, it was there.  So, now, instead of mashed potatoes at every meal, we had tuna casserole, broiled salmon, broccoli and beef stir-fry.

I don't know when it happened, but at some point a switch was flipped.  Instead of looking for food I could make in order to stay alive, I looked for food I wanted to make to enjoy my cooking.  Cooking was not only functional, but it became a form of personal entertainment.  And this is where it finds me today.  I cook because I like it, and I cook to make sure that we (currently, my husband and I) are putting healthy things into our bodies, not packaged junk that I used to be filled to the brim with.  The truth is, I will be forever grateful for that random comment made by a friend on a lazy afternoon.  It buried itself somewhere inside of me and later was my inspiration to do something more.

Some very important things to know about my cooking:
  • I am not a vegetarian, and I am not planning on becoming one.  I was for seven years, and although it was fine, I choose to eat meat.  However, I do try to make at least a few of my meals each week without meat, and I still love vegetarian options, so there will be plenty of those shared here. 
  • I don't drink milk or (sadly) eat cheese, except feta-types and cream cheese.  But if it melts into a gooey mess, it does not go into my body.  My taste buds love it, my digestive track does not.
  • I am not a gourmet chef nor will ever claim to be.  I like good ol' home-cooking.  Sometimes I will try something more complicated, but I try to stick to meals that do not consume my life to prepare.
  • I limit the amount of processed foods I bring home (although I am a sucker for Joe's-Joe's and sweets).  No chips, no more Pasta-Roni, etc. 
  • If I can make it, I do.  Hollandaise, pesto, etc.  But if it takes a ridiculous amount of work, no sirree.  I am not boiling chicken bones to make broth.  I have better things to do with my time, thank you very much!
  • I do not believe in spending exorbitant amounts of money on food.  This means that you might find me with a basket full of produce in Mi Pueblo or a cart full of food in Trader Joe's, but you will not find me spending a lot of quality time in Whole Foods (or even Safeway, for that matter).  I work hard for my money and like to enjoy it in as many ways as possible, not just on my dinner plate.
  • I am a sucker for Rachael Ray.  Simple, easy, and cheap.  Feel free to let me know of any others I should check out :)


  1. Yay! I am glad to hear it. Although, I know that recipes aren't really your thing... however I do think you will find some new creative ideas to try on your own :)


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