Ξ January 5th, 2012 | → 15 Comments | ∇ food, ramblings |
Those who know me for even a little bit of time quick come to learn that I don’t cook. Like, do NOT cook. Not at all. Other than heat a can of tomato soup on the stove or maybe make cheesy scrambled egg once or twice a year, I just don’t cook.
I realize that most people find this ridiculous, but keep in mind I have no children or husband to ensure receive nutritious food daily. I’m fine with toast or leftovers from a previous meal for breakfast, a huge lunch ordered at the office and then something simple like chips and salsa or cheese and crackers for dinner. Lots of times my coworkers will bring in their leftovers to share. And living less than two miles from five sets of aunts and uncles means lots of dinner invitations. Plus I am blessed with a gazillion friends who have adopted me for dinners as well. Take one look at me and you will know that I am not missing meals. It is just that I don’t know how to cook.
Enter Ree. You might know her as The Pioneer Woman and she has, quite literally, changed my life. No, I don’t wanna marry a cowboy and live on a farm (I am incredibly happy here in my beloved Pittsburgh). No, I don’t wanna birth beautiful babies (not physically possible). No, I don’t wanna basset hound (I love my German shepherd). I do, however, want to cook. The photos she posts with her step by step instructions make even me say, “I could do that.”
AND I HAVE BEEN. Me! Cooking! Happy girl sigh.
See, I’m a Cancer. We *love* food. We are nurturers. We are comfortable in our homes. While I adored my Mom, she was a terrible cook so I had zero desire to learn from her. But day after day for the past few years, ever since Britt was amazed that I didn’t have a clue who the Pioneer Woman was and sent me to her site, I’ve been watching Ree make phenomenal homey meals. And make them look easy. Easy enough for even me.
So I bought her cookbook as a Christmas present for two friends and picked up one for me. After looking at pictures of horses and her husband’s butt (sorry, Ree!), I closed the pretty cookbook and let it sit for over a year.
Britt and Jared came to stay with me for a month. They have two kids to feed and are on a rather unforgiving budget so we ate at home. A lot. Lucky for me, Jared enjoys cooking and experimenting. He heard me complain about wanting meatloaf after having a really bad one at a restaurant and remembered seeing Ree’s cookbook in my kitchen (it makes a lovely accent, too!). Damned if I didn’t come home from work one night this past September to a house that smelled divine. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes were hot and being served. Not just any meatloaf, but The Pioneer Woman’s bacon wrapped meatloaf. Those two pounds of meat didn’t stand a chance with our group. Devoured.
I was inspired. But not enough to really do anything about it. I mean, Jared was still there cooking all the time (even though his attempt at her brownies was a nightmare to look at, they tasted good enough to lick from the counter tops). And then when they left I fell back into what I have done my entire adult life…if I ate supper it was at someone else’s house if it was not chips and salsa.
But I kept reading Ree’s cooking posts. And one day, all alone, I cracked her cookbook. The call of that meatloaf was powerful. Powerful enough that I made a shopping list. And told people what I intended to do. Invited a guest over so I wouldn’t chicken out. Borrowed a little hand mixer for the mashed potatoes (yes, I had to borrow one!).
It. Was. Fantastic.
Ok, “fantastic” is probably a little strong. But the mashed potatoes were creamy and smooth and not glue. My meatloaf was juicy and flavorful. It was a damn good meal. Even if there was no other side vegetable on the plate. I was crazy proud of me. So happy and proud that I started making little things here and there. Baked brie. Bacon wrapped chicken with a little brown sugar. Chicken rice soup. Hard boiled eggs sauteed in reduced soy sauce. Yams. Split pea and ham soup. Baked potatoes. Cinnamon sugar French toast. Chicken breasts. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon (that turned out so good it deserved capital letters).
Guys, I am cooking. Not just cooking, but truly enjoying the process. Over on Pinterest I created a food board.
I get that I am rambling. I really do. And I apologize. But tonight I made Ree’s Brussels sprouts which weren’t just good, they were damn good. The only other time I was so happy with Brussels sprouts I was in Orlando at Cat Cora’s restaurant, Kouzzina.
What I am saying is I think Ree created a monster without even knowing it. My coworkers are seeing it and as a result gave me a hand mixer for Christmas so I don’t have to borrow one any more. My friends and family are seeing it and have offered little one on one cooking lessons, start to finish, any meals I want to make. (Did I mention that I am really only cooking one thing at a time, not entire meals? Totally am. Baby steps with simple food! Yaaaaaaaaaay for offers to assist in person!)
I like this newest shiny thing in my life. It won’t get old since I am starting at 40 and hello, yummy results. I won’t tire of it since the possibilities are endless and fun.
I’m just feeling really grateful right now. Thanks for the inspiration, Ree. Without even knowing it you gave me confidence in the kitchen that my best intentioned friends and family were unable to provide. Know that you and your little blog have made a difference in this wonderful world.
[I had every intention of inserting a few photos of things I have cooked recently, but the images were on my cell phone and really don't do any of it justice, therefore you simply must trust that what I am saying is true. BAM!]