Friday, March 22, 2013

Why I suddenly love cooking

Upon moving to Wyoming, Techno-genius and I had some distinct ideas of improvements we planned to implement in our lives.  Spending more 'fun time' as a family, improving our overall work ethic - completing home projects, getting more exercise (when taking a walk includes the mountain views we now call home, surely it would be easier), and leading a more simplified life overall.

Little did I know,  as part of those enhancements, I would suddenly start enjoying cooking A LOT.  That's not an entirely true statement. I've always liked the act of cooking, but found it a cumbersome task that just caused another dreaded chore - cleaning up the mess.

As I pondered why, when living in suburbia, I disliked cooking, why I didn't relish the opportunity to be creative in the meals I prepared, I came to a couple conclusions.

First and foremost, I baulked at using a pre-planned menu and grocery list.  I wanted spontaneity.  I guess.  However, it was such spontaneousness that caused me to cringe as the dreaded "dinner hour" approached.  What could I make, fast, that didn't require thawing anything out because..... since I was being spontaneous... nothing was thawed.

Night in, night out, this was a scenario that often played out in my head and actions.  Come 4 pm, or worse yet 5 pm - I'd have NO idea what to make for dinner.  Hence, I'd fall into my comfort zone and make the easy "go to" dishes that were on hand - soup and grilled cheese, spaghetti, tacos, stir fried rice.  Worse yet, we'd grab pizza, head out to eat, or (don't think I'm a bad mom), I'd give the kids cereal and pop tarts and Doug and I would grab something after the kids went to bed - sometimes just a bowl of popcorn.

The other cause of my lack luster cooking efforts was our schedule. We were running - often.  Church activities, homeschool co-op, kids music lessons, Doug's work schedule, 4H, Girls Gone Wise, and any other activity that happened to look interesting that week.  IF we were home, I was often quite exhausted, unprepared, and didn't want to cook. Other days, I just didn't have a plan, so making an early meal to fit our hectic schedule wasn't feasible.

The simple life in the mountains changed much of that.  Not only are we much less busy, not having a grocery store or fast food restaurant within 30 miles, causes one to plan ahead.  Yep, my excuse of being spontaneous was out the door.

Cooking takes time.  I found I had more of that here.  So, with my planned menu and grocery list, a lot more time to cook, I began scouring the internet for recipes (most of my cookbooks are still in storage somewhere in Illinois).  I also discovered Pinterest - that evil addiction - and it's plethora of food ideas.  I was hooked.

First I tried a few new recipes along side some of my more elaborate "known" dishes.  I was cooking every night. Much to my surprise, I was also willing and even looking forward to cooking and preparing more elaborate lunches - even breakfasts some days.

Just one of the new, tasty meals I've prepared.  This lemon broccoli dish is now Doug's favorite veggie preparation.
One week, in my zeal, I planned out our menu with all new and fairly elaborate recipes for almost every lunch and dinner.  Techno-genius about had a heart attack when the grocery bill was double what it had been since arriving in Wyoming.  I toned down my excitement after that.

I still attempt new, fun recipes, but I try to sprinkle them in along with some less elaborate staples that our family enjoys.  This has kept our budget in check and kept me from living in the kitchen 24/7.

Do you have a favorite new recipe or a good 'ole standby that you your family loves?  Please share. I'm on the hunt for 'new to us' meals all the time now.

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