I’m taking this week off work, since we just wrapped our organization’s annual conference (which deserves a post of its own) and Sarah is out of town, so I’m phoning it in a bit on the food front for a couple days. While we eat pretty well when we’re cooking together, I revert to bachelor mode pretty quickly when she travels, so there’s a lot of cold cereal and toast/corn tortillas with butter happening these days. I’m also replenishing my introvert batteries – after being ON for eight straight days (on-boarding and training new staff, managing the final days of conference planning and then managing the conference itself – and training workshops) this introvert is more than happy to watch some bad tv and read on my porch for a couple days.
All of the above is context for the story that I want to share. I was microwaving a baked potato for dinner last night and remembered the first time I baked a potato on my own. I was probably 10 or 12 years old, definitely old enough to use the microwave by myself, and I asked my mom how long it would take to bake a potato. When she responded “45 minutes,” I set the microwave and wandered off, probably to read somewhere. I had no idea that there was a significant difference in the time it took to bake a potato in the oven versus the microwave, until my mom got home about 30 minutes into my cooking time and rescued the sad, desiccated Russet. Our microwave smelled like burnt up potato for months afterward.
After I went vegetarian at 12, my mom spent a couple years managing my diet for me – she was really worried I wouldn’t get enough protein, and I would have subsisted happily on potatoes and bread without her intervention. When I turned fourteen, she declared I was old enough to cook for myself and she wasn’t going to make two separate entrees at dinner any longer. I didn’t learn to cook a lot of things, or how to cook them well, but I had her permission to experiment in the kitchen and that was pretty rad. I also learned the difference between a colander (used for draining or rinsing food and often made of plastic) and a steamer basket (holds food above a small amount of hot water, made of metal) when I tried to cook artichokes for the first time and ruined a colander, a small stock pot and three artichokes.
My mom also bought me my first vegan cookbooks and laughed until she cried when my first vegan cookies came out so round and hard that they rolled off the baking pan when I tilted it slightly while taking them out of the oven.
I guess I’ve been thinking about these things since last night because it really has been a while since I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and I miss it. It’s easy to default to frozen pizza and enchiladas, but I know I’ll be happier and feel better if I take the time to cook for myself, even when I’m only cooking for myself. (But if you’re in need of frozen food recommendations, Daiya’s frozen pizzas are the best allergy-friendly ones I’ve found, and Amy’s Mexican food meals are excellent. Just sayin’.)