For most of my adult life, I have classified myself as a baker, not a cook. I have always been quick to joke, “why should I cook, when everyone cooks for me?” It was true. Growing up, my mother did all the cooking. (okay, yes, my father did make dinner on the rare occasions my mom was out of town. Breakfast for dinner every time.) In college, it was dining hall food (bleh), and then when Val and I shared an apartment it was – well, we were P-O-O-R. So we ate whatever was free or cheap. I remember a time that we dug for change under the mats of my car in order to split a value meal at McDonald’s. Yeah. But occasionally, when money would appear out of thin air, she would cook, and it was always beyond amazing and completely without the aid of a cookbook. While in seminary, I worked in a restaurant the entire four years, so food was always free or cheap. Then I started dating Kris, and yes, it was because he knew his way around the kitchen. That man can cook a gourmet meal without breaking a sweat, and is hot to boot. Seriously, what more does a girl need?! Then, living in Hong Kong, I ate at the shelter most days because, well, I didn’t even have a kitchen.
One of my goals in moving to Seattle was to learn to cook for myself, and to cook with locally bought items as often as possible. Local is no issue here, because this city is serious about promoting, supporting and making affordable local anything. I’ve seen local cheese, local wine, local beer, local fish. I’ve see local yarn, locally made guitars, even locally made birthday cards. This is no joke. So, I can buy local. Now the real question is, Can I cook?
Turns out, I don’t suck at cooking. For most of my independent adult life, I thought I did. Honestly, I thought I was a nightmare in the kitchen. When all I really needed was just a little confidence and time to explore. So far, I’ve made pizza where even the crust was from scratch and all of the produce on top was locally grown. I made a to-die-for salad with grilled chicken the other night that was seriously some kind of incredible. Last night I made pita fajitas.
I find that not only am I enjoying the food I’m making, but I’m enjoying the time and energy it takes to cook. I love finding new recipes, and get excited shopping for all the right ingredients. There is anticipation over my meal as it simmers on the stove. And when I finish, I feel that I have eaten healthier and accomplished something of worth in making my own dinner from scratch.
So my continued challenge to myself is to make one new meal a week. (I seem to remember someone else with a similar goal In these meals I have to use at least one local product. I’ll try to keep you updated as I go (though it will not be anything as extensive as Val’s food blog).
Who knew? I can cook!