Cooking: 4 Easy Steps
I have always loved to cook. It has always been a natural talent for me. I could pipe a cake in third grade; follow recipes, and cook entire meals by the fourth grade. I still remember the first recipe I cooked. It was out of Butter Busters Cookbook. A recipe for dill cheddar bread using powdered shake em’ butter. By this, you can tell that I’m a product of the 90’s low fat craze! Back then, fat was bad. Keto was never heard of. Butter was considered the devil by housewives everywhere. But, the love I have for cooking has always been there. The curiosity of it all. Learning the how To’s has never ended for me. It started in the third grade, now at 43, culinary and nutrition school under my belt, the curiosity and learning still continue.
Sitting around the pool with my adult friends, I hear all the complains and groans about dinners. Some ladies hate it as it’s a chore. Others just plain don’t know what to do. This has never occurred to me. I knew for some; the dreaded nightly dinners were just exhausting. I never really considered that some just plain don’t know what to do. The hate simply comes from a lack of knowledge. Either their parents didn’t show them, they never had interest, and have found that eating out is easier.
Eating out is one of my most favorite things, but it adds up. $30+ a meal, 3x a daily, never mind the sneaky and all forgetful Starbucks or drink runs. I once visited a girlfriend on vacation. She spent her day sitting in the drive-thru’s; getting soft drinks, coffees, and slushies. Those $2-3 every few hours are always justified at the moment. Depleting your checking account quickly. You could be spending up to $700+ a week!! Let that sink in! This may explain your missing paycheck every month. It’s not just a hit financially, but the costs to your health as well. An average soda has 150 calories for 12 ounces! You could easily be drinking your calories.
There are many online resources, cookbooks, and magazines in which to learn. But you may not have the time or interest in those types of books or magazines devoted to food. Cooking classes are another great way to learn the basic how To’s. However, they can be costly, ranging from $100 per class. The level of investment is up to you. It is worth trading in your drive-thru time and cost to invest in your own kitchen.
We never really know what goes into our food unless we prepare it ourselves. So preparing your food at home, while yes, it takes time, but your body and checking account will be grateful.
Here are four basics to get you started.
- Season your food. Even your salad greens. That’s right. Even your lettuce going into your salad! This is what you are missing at home. Telling yourself that “eat out food” taste better. Good old-fashioned salt and fresh cracked pepper make all the difference. Purchase high quality pink Himalayan salt and fresh pepper grinder (you can buy the pepper corns with grinder all in one for under $4)
- Parchment Paper is your new cooking bestie. Line sheet trays, casserole dishes and baking dishes for easy clean up. Parchment is not just for cookies! It makes clean up easy, and saves your sheet pans from looking dingy.
- Roasting Veggies and Meats. Roasting is a healthy, quick cooking method for meats and veggies. Directions: Preheat Oven 350. Line sheet pan (cookie tray, as my mother called it) with parchment paper. Sprinkle one tablespoon of olive oil. If roasted veggies, cut into same size, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle some fresh herbs (think thyme, Italian parsley, tarragon). Place into oven 15-20 minutes until veggies are soft. For Chicken, do the all the same steps. Even better idea, place both veggies and chicken (do all the same steps listed) and roast all at once for a sheet pan dinner.
- Italian Flat Leaf Parsley. It’s not just for Italian Food! Flat leaf parsley, not to be confused with its rougher relative, curly parsley. It’s flat, bright green leaves add a touch of freshness, jazzing up just about anything you create. It’s even nice chopped up and added to salads. It is very simple to work with. Simply wash, bunch up the top, chopping off the leaves into small pieces, discarding stems. Sprinkle into sauces, onto meats or veggies. It’s so versatile, and mild, however you don’t want to overdo it; stick with 1-2 TBS per dish.
Cooking shouldn’t give you anxiety or fear. It should be fun, creative, and enjoyable. Eating is something we all do every day. Try different types of lettuce and veggies in your salads. There are tons of salad dressings and recipes available to try! Maybe that is what you’re boring at home salad is missing-new stuff! Nuts, fruits (both fresh and dry) different cheeses make all the difference to a sad plate of lonely greens. Be adventurous. You can even roast veggies and put them in your salad.
You now have bragging rights with your mother. That you are using your “cookie sheet” for making fancy roasted dinners—not just the cookie dough you used to buy for DINNER. There are so many combos you can roast for amazing dinners. Chicken roasted with sweet potatoes, carrots, shallots, zucchini, drizzled with a tablespoon of maple syrup and some fresh herbs is a quick, delightful dinner. The combos of veggies and meats are endless. You can always drizzle some honey, keto maple, or maple syrup for a hint of sweetness. Herbs are really up to your palette. For a touch of freshness, Italian parsley is cheap, readily available, and mild in flavor. It adds a touch of freshness to any dish.
So, go ahead, invite your girlfriends over, impress your parents or the special someone in your life with your newfound cooking skills. Don’t be afraid, be excited and welcoming to the world of possibly your kitchen has to offer.