Article by Wendy McCance
You know those people who have written books about their cooking adventures? Great books, thoroughly entertaining and the things they cook sound extremely impressive. Well, I will never be writing a book like that.
I am that person that wishes I was a fantastic cook. Hell, I wish I could just love cooking. I would say I am a decent cook (although I wouldn’t have given myself such praise ten years ago) and I wish I enjoyed cooking, but I just avoid it when possible.
When I was a kid, I would bake. I remember trying to make chocolate chip cookies using the tried and true recipe off the back of the Nestle Toll House Morsels bag. Each time I made the cookies, they came out flat and greasy. Not appetizing at all. The last time I attempted to make those cookies, my sister watched over me as I poured each ingredient into the bowl. She carefully made sure the measurements were right as I did each step. Well, when I pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven, I had succeeded in creating another batch of greasy, flat cookies. My sister threw her arms up in the air in disbelief and said she gave up. I did too.
I didn’t attempt to make anything in the kitchen again until I moved out on my own. I felt successful making spaghetti noodles and using a jarred sauce. That was my big accomplishment for many years.
When I got married and started having babies, I knew it was time to buckle down and really learn to cook. Each day I dreaded making dinner and the meals were just okay at best. Because we didn’t have a lot of extra money, there weren’t too many times I got a break from cooking except for the occasional pizza night.
Years have gone by and little by little my cooking has improved. Leftovers actually get eaten up instead of tossed after sitting for a week in the fridge.
I have learned a few things that have made cooking a lot easier:
- Whenever possible, plan out what you will make for the week. It makes grocery shopping easier and there is less stress figuring out last minute what to throw together when you only have half of the ingredients for any dish you can come up with.
- Wine and music always make cooking a more enjoyable experience. If I know I will be working on a meal for a while, I must have both to get through the process.
- Half of my weekly meals are quick and easy. This way if I have an especially busy day and can’t start cooking until dinner time, I can whip up something quickly. Taco’s, Hamburger’s, Spaghetti, A big salad and good bread are all easy and quick to make.
- Learning to use a crock pot was one of the best things I have done for myself. The house always smells amazing and the food turns out good every time.
- There seems to be an easy version of any recipe that sounds appealing but is known to be complicated. The internet is a wonderful place for finding those easy recipes.
- Thank god for a husband that is a good cook and enjoys grilling. I get to take breaks from cooking often!!
- Summer food = the easiest food to make. I do a lot of salads in the summer. Fruit salad, egg salad, chicken salad, greek salad (you get the idea) with a good bread from the bakery and some wine is magical.
These days I go in cycles. I will have a burst of energy and enthusiasm for cooking. Recently I made Shepard’s pie, taco salad, a penne rigate with broccoli and I had a salad night where I made greek salad, cobb salad and had some good hearty bread.
I was flying high from a week of making food the family was enjoying so I decided to make beef stroganoff. It was awful! I’ve made beef stroganoff before with good results, but this was a new recipe and well, there was way too much spice and it was truly not edible. My husband tried to save it without success and we ordered a pizza. The time I spent and the money that was lost making the dish killed me. It’s one of the reasons I dislike cooking so much. I hate spending so much time on something that turns out poorly and I hate seeing money wasted.
Hopefully, the kids will not get my cooking genes. So far my oldest daughter has shown talent in cooking vegetarian meals and my son is a good baker. Maybe there is hope.
P.S.: I made this incredibly easy, impressive and extremely good dessert I wanted to share with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did. It’s honestly one of the best desserts I’ve made.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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