Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Eating - a truly enjoyable experience


It's no secret - I've wanted to start cooking for a while now.  Lest you think that I'm a complete idiot, I know how to cook some things.  It's just that what I know how to cook are holiday favorites or...well... a full Thanksgiving dinner.  Mostly because those are the meals that I've helped with over the years.

Sure, I know a few "normal" recipes here and there that I learned in college, but for the most part, my cooking has been limited to Hamburger Helper, sandwiches, and cereal.  Yes, even for dinner.

I'm not proud when I say that more often than not, I've grabbed something via a drive-thru on the way home.  And since dating Joe, the process hasn't changed much - the restaurants just got nicer.  Suffice it to say, much of 2010, we ate out for dinner.

It's expensive.  And while it's nice every once in a while to have someone else do the cooking, at our house going out to eat becomes a bit of a chore.  See, I have to wait for him to come home and THEN we have a 30 minute discussion on where we should go.  So usually, I'm eating later than I'd like - and it takes up more of the night than I'd like.  Moreover, it's not a particularly stress-free process. 

I've shied away from cooking regularly for two reasons: 1) I'm not a huge fan of leftovers and 2) it seemed like just another GD thing I had to do on my list of eleventy things to do in a given day.  'When I come home, I want to relax' I tell myself.  I deserve being taken care of, don't I?  So spoiling myself by eating out often seemed the best way to indulge.

But being on disability for 8 weeks (followed by vacation for 2 weeks), gives one a lot of time to reflect.  I've felt like I didn't accomplish anything while I was off work and my need to be productive in some way started to become more apparent.

So the last few weeks, I've decided to actually do more cooking - at least 5 dinner meals a week are going to be done inside our loft walls.  It's a big switch.

I started out 2011 making something I've never made before - chicken soup.  I cut up all the veggies and chicken.  I seasoned the broth to taste the way I like it.   I used the noodles that Joe loves.  And while it may have been more hearty than other chicken noodle soups, it was fantastic.

It was so good, in fact, that I made it again on Monday for dinner.  Yesterday, I made gumbo in the crockpot for dinner as well as tuna fish salad for my lunch for the rest of the week.

When I get to chopping or cooking, a few things happen.

1) I unwind by listening to music I like and enjoying tea, wine, or ice cold water while I do it.  It's a fantastic way for me to relax - not listening to talking, television, or anyone else.  It's just me and pleasant sounds.

2) I know what's going in my food.  While I do want to be better about eating only when I'm hungry, I find that knowing exactly what I'm eating is helpful AND fun.  I get to pick out fresh ingredients at the grocery store.  I get to explore what foods I like and what spices I don't.  If the end result tastes good, I know more about what I actually like...which makes the next time I'm eating out easier to choose what I want anyway.

3) I get a feeling of satisfaction by knowing that I am doing something productive.  And when I eat what I made?  I feel proud that I made something healthy, tasty, and nurturing for me.

And can I just say that watching Joe eat a meal I thoughtfully and deliberately made is just about the best feeling?  Especially when he goes for a second helping?  Oh man - such a great feeling.  He likes what I cook or bake and I feel good knowing that I'm fueling him with things that are good for him.

Cooking makes my meals more enjoyable.  I've destressed while preparing the dish so that when I eat it, either with Joe or alone, I'm in a place that I can truly enjoy it.  I'm pampered because it's a meal that I want, a meal I like, and it's using ingredients that I like.  I know what's in it - and the freshness of veggies and spices makes the meal truly tasty.

The whole experience of preparing, sharing, and eating is pretty great.  And while I'm not Betty Crocker or June Cleaver yet, I'm proud of my presence in my home just the same.

Who knows, I may be domesticated yet.


Karen said...

I am not a good cook and I don't like it. Hate the planning to. IF I made resolutions, which I don't, I would have put down one about getting family dinners on the table more! I cook more when I am eating healthy; they go hand in hand for me and are chicken and egg. And I often plan for leftovers of the favorites and freezer meals too. I am going to have my third day of a new dish I tried this week. YUM.

Brigitte said...

Three cheers for trying to cook more! I was never a big leftover fan either probably due to the fact we always had them growing up. But I have learned to love them and when I'm tired of them that it is okay to throw it out. Cooking is such a wonderful activity for not only your body but your soul!

Auntie Mandy said...

I made kale yesterday and my BFF tried it. She really liked it and asked me for the recipe. HA! When I figure out what I did, I will post it on my blog. This is the second time I have said this today but I use recipes more as a suggestion than something to be followed. Made my grandma CRAZY!

Ms. M said...

I can so relate to the drama of eating out. Mr. Husband and I have had more than a few "disagreements" in the course of trying to choose a destination.

Cooking is relaxing for me too. My Mom is no cook, so I've spent a lot of years teaching myself.

I know Weight Watchers and I think Cooking Light both have mini cookbooks out that offer quick (30 minute) meals... you might find those helpful for the nights when you want to relax. Good luck! :)

Moving Mertle said...

I am not a big cook either and get bored with food if I have to eat it for an entire week. I usually cook a bunch of ingredients, like rice, chicken breast, or hamburger. So last night I had rice, beans, salsa and chicken, but tonight I may have rice, soy sauce, veggies, and chicken. Please share any good recipes since I need to start cooking more as well.

Jams said...

Awesome! I need to cook actual meals more often. I should break out the crockpot! Enjoy your meals in your loft! :)

~ Darla ~ said...

Mmmm, chicken soup for the soul. We've gotten on to the eat out kick ourselves and then after awhile everything starts to taste the same (mind you, we aren't going out to expensive restaurants). Then when we cook I think, "This is the best chicken breast I've ever had..."

I have to make a comment about not accomplishing anything while you were off work though - you were recovering from surgery. You deserve to cut yourself a little slack for that :-)

I'm going to try the unwind by listening to music while we cook. That sounds enjoyable. And, yes, you know exactly what's going into your food. I swear there are people pouring a little bit extra oil into our food prior to it coming to the table. I asked for steamed veggies at a restaurant once and they tasted so good. The next time I went there I asked for steam veggies, absolutely plan with nothing added. Hmmm, didn't taste as good. Something was up there.

~ Darla ~ said...

meant to say plain, not plan

Polar's Mom said...

Dude, you ALMOST convinced me to cook more. Just kidding, being on this diet has forced me to cook more than I used to, and typically it is just for me, so it usually only involves one step, like baking fish, etc. I like my cooking like I like my men-easy and delicious. HAHA

Polar's Mom

Janell said...

I was a better cook prior to WLS. Now I suck but I still cook and still enjoy cooking & occasional baking though when I try to give away my food there is hesitation from the masses. I'll bet I could get a homeless person to take some of it though.
These refusers have not suffered enough though if they ate my food, they'd get a quick lesson in suffering.

Hope things are good with your health.

Lily Fluffbottom said...

Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. I turn up the music, and I DANCE. I dance while I'm chopping, I dance while I'm washing and or simmering. I even sometimes stop cooking and just keep dancing. Its great. Try it. Food always tastes better after dancing.

Okay. I sing while I cook and dance too. :p

Tricia said...

whoohooo!! great job with the cooking

Lynda with a Y said...

I love to cook too and you've summed up perfectly the reasons why. BTW, soup rocks!! Great way to use up leftovers.

The Babe said...

I got a gift of a cooking class for Christmas. I haven't chosen one yet--want to be brave and go to a class with me? I was thinking "Knife Skills" because it would sound badass to tell people I have Knife Skills. What do you think?

Katy said...

YEA for cooking! I've got some great recipes that make the rounds in our house at least once a week, if you ever want any.