Tuesday, February 19, 2008

C Is for...


I love to cook. In college I enjoyed the nights when we skipped the caf and used the dorm kitchen. Better yet was senior year when we had our own apartment and our own kitchen. We weren't amazing cooks. Some company had come out with Chicken Tonight sauces. So, we had a lot of shrimp cocktail and chicken cacciatore. Nothing terribly exciting, but it was homemade, so it was good.

When I moved out on my own, my mom took me out to buy a set of pots and pans and she gave me my first cookbook.

I love this cookbook. This does not contain any groundbreaking recipes, but it was a great starter cookbook. Now, when I want comfort food, I go back to these dishes. With a bunch of years cooking experience under my belt, I can improvise much more. There's a shrimp and angel hair pasta casserole that I still occasionally make. Before, I would have had to have all of the listed ingredients. Now, I do a lot of, "I can use this, instead of this," and end up with something that feels the same but is radically different.

My cooking skills have grown, as has the cookbook collection.

It actually outgrew the bookcase and a portion is now housed above the sock yarn basket.

And then there are the magazines (Cooking Light, Everyday and Real Simple subscriptions (housed below the knitting book collection).

We keep our cookbooks in the living room instead of the kitchen because they're really reading material. I'll sit on a Friday night while watching TV, perusing the books, looking for ideas for the week, and making my shopping list.

Gotta keep the spice cabinet stocked. (These are just the savory spices...baking spices, honeys and specialty blends are on a lazy susan in another cabinet.)

And my nice countertop stove (where all the soup comes together). Peeking out from the corner there, you can see the bottles of balsamic vinegar lined up. I think there are 5 right now, including white, cherry and at least one high end bottle. (I tried getting a shot of my awesome wall oven, which once died while cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, but it's stainless, and reflects the flash in an awful way.) The pitcher belonged to my Nanny. When she moved into my folks' house I claimed this. It's old. It's stained. And I wouldn't make iced tea in anything else.

My sister, known around these parts as The Kid (despite being 27), just got married this summer. She and her husband (The Boy...he's 22) have tight finances. A few months ago, it got really bad, in large part due to their love of fast food. They were 10- and 15-dollaring themselves to death...financially and in terms of their heath. My folks worked with them to try and get their budget under control. As the big sister, I felt I had to try and do something. Luckily, I have a wonderful Geek Boy who goes along with all of my ideas. The Kid and I signed up for Dinner by Design, one of these come-spend-two-hours-preparing-frozen-meals places. For a few months we treated them to a freezer full of meals. The Kid and I had a great time together. Almost every day she would call me and tell me what they had for dinner and how good it was.

After two months, I got the hang of how the whole DbD thing worked. Now once a month we go grocery shopping together. We get everything she'll need for a month's worth of meals, head back to their apartment, prepare all of the meals and stuff her freezer. Some of it is simple stuff. We make hamburgers or put chicken and marinade in a ziplock bag. It can be a little difficult since The Boy is a very picky eater. But we've managed and we'll keep doing it.

So, C is for cooking: for the fun of putting together meals for myself and Geek Boy; for varied reading on a Friday night; but most of all, for time well spent with The Kid and the chance to know she and The Boy are saving some money and eating healthy.

I can't let this post go by without a C is for Cats.




DeuceMom said...

Hi! I'm dying for some soup - and that looks like an empty stove :(
oh, and sweet kitties

Mia said...

Cookbooks are truly for reading enjoyment. I am sure that we have several of the same ones. And I love your baskets for the magazines.

And it was sweet of you to show your sister how to prepare a month's worth of food and save money and time. Even though I live by myself, I still cook all the time. I try to eat out only once or twice a week. And even then, I have a budget of $40 or less for per month on that. I will try something out that I wouldn't necessarily make at home to see if I like it. And than figure out how to make it the next time.

Jessica said...

Cute kitties! If I had a cookbook collection that big I might actually like cooking! ;) Good story about your sis though. It's amazing how much eating out can hurt the budget (not to mention the body).