Life Changing

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!]


15 Responses to ' Life Changing '

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  1. vahid said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Reading this post made my mouth water and now I’m hungry and it’s the middle of the night. Great.

  2. martymankins said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 10:24 am

    This is where those of us that love to cook are doing the happy dance. Food is a wonderful thing. It’s even more wonderful when you have made it yourself.

    Meatloaf… must find meatloaf. Must make meatloaf.

  3. B.E. Earl said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    That’s awesome! I have always cooked, but more of a “throw some jar sauce on some cooked pasta” kinda cooking. I started cooking in earnest when I turned 40 as well. Now I make yummy dinners 4-5 nights a week. Because I’m cooking with fresh ingredients (and with only stuff I like) everything tastes better too.

    I’m hooked.

    And I know you’ve been reading my food/recipe blog, so I knew the interest was there.

    Good girl. :)

  4. Sybil Law said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I do have a husband and kid to feed, but actually enjoy the process of cooking as well. I love making meals from good ingredients and from scratch, and having them turn out delicious. It’s incredibly satisfying, and instant gratification!!
    I didn’t know The Pioneer Woman had a cookbook – then again, I don’t get over there much. But that meatloaf sounds AWESOME.
    I’m so happy that you’re cooking! Plus, now people can buy you cooking things as gifts! :)

  5. Megan said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I can’t cook Ree’s stuff too often – way too much butter and stuff! But it all looks absolutely yummy. I was actually thinking about the Brussels sprouts because they looked awesome.

    I love to cook and do so almost every night (or Mitch does). When I’m not rushed or anything I find it very relaxing.

    So happy you’re branching out – it’s good for your brain!

  6. Lisa said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I’m so happy you’re enjoying cooking! And Ree has another cookbook coming out soon! I love to cook, especially for other people. I love eating food that I made myself because I know exactly what went into it, and because then I can say “YAY I MADE YUM!” and I do say that, because really I’m five years old.

  7. on January 5th, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    That is so exciting! Wen I met Daren, all I knew how to make was Pop Tarts & Kraft Dinner. He taught me everything and we often cook together. It’s fun! I’m so glad you’re having a blast with it. :)

  8. Kim said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    That is so GREAT ! I’m so excited and I cannot wait to cook with you and see you face – SOON !!! XOXO

  9. Miss Britt said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I am SO proud of you! It’s not often I see you pick up something new, something you’ve said you can’t do. This is amazing to see!!

    And I can’t wait for you to cook for me. :-)

  10. Ree said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    This warms my heart. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I love you on Twitter, love you on the web. You’re a delight.

    Will you bring me some meatloaf? ;)

  11. Sarah said,

    on January 6th, 2012 at 4:08 am

    This is a wonderful post. I’m so glad you are enjoying something new to you! It makes me happy.:)

  12. kim said,

    on January 7th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    You have inspired me!!! I just pulled out her cookbook and I’m making beans!!!

  13. on January 8th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve love The Pioneer Woman for a long time and am really happy to hear she inspired you! Knowing how to cook is one of the joys in life, being able to whip up some comfort in the form of food is a wondrous thing. Glad you’re finding this out. ;-) I’m not surprised Ree has had such a positive influence on so many people–as far as I’m concerned, she’s doing a public service by teaching us and sharing her fabulous recipes!

  14. Mr Farty said,

    on January 30th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Mrs F. got me into the habit of making Sunday dinner – roast beef/chicken/pork, mashed potatoes, two veg and gravy. It’s brilliant when I manage to get them all ready at the same time. Keep up the good work.

    Also, good luck with the traveling red dress.

  15. Ginamonster said,

    on February 23rd, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I’m not entirely sure where I have been (besides reno, of course) but I sure have missed you. Glad i decided to remember to visit. :)

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