Sunday, December 2, 2012

Food, Glorious Food

I love to cook. It helps me to reach a state of peace* that I can't find other ways.** I'd stopped cooking very much since my surgeries this summer, but every time I did cook, I'd say "Ah! Why am I not doing this more?"

During some deep husband-wife conversations on our Thanksgiving drive, I told Husband that I wanted to cook more again, but that in order to do so, he needed to get home for dinner.*** He's not a big leftovers guy, even if he loved the meal the first time, so it's important that he be there for the actual meal. Let's just say that his side of things is still a work in progress, but I started my effort to cook more last week. I made something new Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday! Thursday was a leftover night and, honestly, on Friday I just scrounged through the fridge. But having cooked, I was in such a good mood those three days. Even the anticipation of cooking helped, I think.

I am aware of a couple of things in my favor here:

1) Husband has become open to trying new foods and preparations - he likes it when I'm a bit adventurous with dinner!

2) There are no little tykes clamoring for my attention or complaining as I grocery shop, cook, or eat. The whole situation would change drastically if I did, without a doubt.

Husband will sometimes brag to people that I'm a good cook, but my Pop-Pop likes to say "Any idiot can cook. All you have to do is read and follow directions." Yeah, Pop-Pop really has a way with words! :D

Last week's dinners were:

Monday: Salmon-Cakes with Orange-Fennel Slaw
When I had this as leftovers at lunch, a co-worker at my lunch table recounted how her mom used to make salmon-cakes for six people from canned salmon every Friday. She was very intrigued by my use of fresh fish (it was kind of sad to do that to a salmon fillet, I'll be honest) and by the slaw, which was maybe the second time I've ever used fennel.

Tuesday: Pan-fried Pork Loin Strips with Mushrooms, Mashed Turnips, and Green Beans
There was a "value pack" of pork loin at the store, score! My dad grew turnips in his garden for the first time this year, so I took three home with me from Thanksgiving. I don't know that I've eaten turnips before, so it was kind of fun, even though this is when the vegetable peeler accident took place. Mashed turnips are more watery than mashed potatoes, but a little sweeter. About the green beans, I'll just say frozen veggies = a gift from God. Oh, and I was able to steam them over the pot where I was boiling the turnips. I am aware that home cooks have probably done that sort of thing for millenia, making double use of one flame and pot of water, but it was a first for me, and I was psyched!

Wednesday: Pork Stir-fry with Bok Choy
This was the meal that disappointed me a little bit, but I suppose that it was exactly what its name says it will be. I used a fun grain mix instead of rice, because why not, right?

The main recipes for all of these meals came from two of my favorite cookbooks, Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day and Cooking for Two: Efficient and Delicious Meals, the latter of which is tragically out of print (so let me know if you want the pan-fried pork loin with mushrooms recipe, or any of the others for that matter). For the mashed turnips, I used a recipe from

I am very excited for this week's meals. There will be several new adventures in cooking, because Dad also sent me home with pumpkins that his neighbor at the farm grew. Savory stuffed pumpkins and pumpkin soup, what?!


*Exceptions would be when I cut myself, as I did with the vegetable peeler this week.

**Praying the rosary is the only other thing that comes to mind. Maybe its that with both cooking and praying the rosary, there is a prescribed formula that you must follow, and it takes enough time that it really clears your head.

***We both work an hour from home, and our commutes are horrendous if you leave before 6pm, so dinner is usually pretty late.


  1. I love to cook with fresh ingredients. There's just nothing quite like it. I'm impressed that you're cooking after getting home from work. That is the toughest thing for me!

  2. We have a late dinner all the time too, and having a "meal plan" for our weeks really really helped. It's usually pretty general, like "chicken", that still allows for some creativity on the spot, but at least The Man knows what to take out of the freezer for me before he leaves for work (because I always forget).

    I got a new stand mixer for Christmas, but my mom gave it to me early b/c my old one broke, and I've been baking up a storm - made gluten-free snickerdoodles last night...yea, I'm in heaven :).

    I generally wouldn't call myself a "good cook" but when I do take my time and make a meal (that I pay attention to), I generally enjoy it, so I guess I'm not a horrible cook either.

  3. @Catholic Mutt - Fresh ingredients are the best! And sometimes I do give up on cooking after work, but I realize that I am just so much happier when I make the effort.

    @Rebecca - Snickerdoodles! Yummmm! And I salute you for evening-of creativity! I'm not a creative cook; I follow recipes pretty closely, unless I'm substituting something so it works better with my pantry.

    1. Haha! I should've been a bit more specific "evening of creativity" means - chicken: do I put lemon-pepper on it and broil it or do I put southwest seasoning on it and grill it on the foreman? That's as "creative" as I get - the menus you listed above would take me about 3 days to prepare - truly.

  4. My goal over the next few weeks is to cook more at home. We've been scrounging odds & ends the last week, not wanting to grocery shop ... which we should have done, because now it is 7 degrees out. Brrrrr!!! I'm a recipe follower too. And also just like Rebecca ... very simple "creativity." :-)