1979-1997: a wee little tot gleaning cooking and baking information from both of my parents over the years. My specialty? Homemade pretzels for our family and the neighbors.
1997-2001: a college kid who ate at the UC (cafeteria), and had a juicer in her dorm room for, uh, orange juice.
2001-2003: finally living on my own, I took stock in Trader Joe’s frozen meals.
2004-2005: though not much changed, I lived with five other girls in Santa Cruz, and a couple of them in particular were bon appetite cooks. It was also here that TRB (tofu, rice, broccoli + a silent “s” for spinach) was eaten every Monday night with 15-30 of our closest friends.
2006-2009: whether in WA or CA, we were back to the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s. I remember my friend Jenn flying up to visit me and teach me how to make my first pie from scratch (hey, it was on the 30 before 30 list); we made a HUGE trip to Fred Meyer’s to get all the ingredients (including a hand-held mixer), and the kitchen supplies doubled in size. Of course, she neglected to check to see if I had salt in my kitchen – or even a salt shaker, for that matter. Why would I have that? I mean, there’s already extra preservatives in everything I buy. Er…. So, instead of heading back down the hill for a $2 container of salt, I looked both ways and crossed the street to the local 7-11. Picking up 40 or so individual packets of salt, we then proceeded to open each one of them up so we could get the needed teaspoon or two for our respective pumpkin and apple pies.
2010: this MAN entered my life, and we started eating meals together. A lot. And all of the sudden, there was this burgeoning desire to prepare dinner for him – hence, the crock pot entered my life.
2011-present: it’s like people associate cooking with marriage or something – I mean, I really don’t know why [uh, read above paragraphs…]. And with marriage came cookbooks and magazine subscriptions to Sunset and Bon Appetit (which he subscribed to because he thought I’d like), and Southern Living (which I subscribed to because I thought he’d like). And after a stint at Oakbridge last summer, I arrived back in town desiring to make and pass around boozy cupcakes to all of our neighbors. This is why we all love each other. 😉
And hence, we come to today’s conundrum: what to DO with these thousands of recipes floating around to make? The problem as the hubs sees it is that I’ll try out all these new recipes, but then not remember to make the A+ ones again. [The man could eat P-dub’s chicken piccata every week and he’d be just fine.] He finds himself yearning for some of those favorite dishes, and has therefore suggested that we subscribe to the 80-20 rule: make the best-of recipes 80% of the time, and try out new ones the other 20%.
Classic Cara on the other hand is just like BOR-ING! Why would I want to make the same dish again, when there are all these new ones to try out? (Unless we’re talking about that one recipe for shrimp tacos with peach jam – where is it anyway? Found it). So I desire to reverse the above rule to a 20-80 rule, because that’s new! That’s exciting!
Hence, our happy medium: I probably cook four nights a week, and make it a 50-50 rule. With other night-time activities, a night for left-overs (or for him to cook), and/or a meal out, this seems to suffice. And, I’m actually organizing all the recipes into a binder with the favorites saved in actual plastic covers (but as for all those Pinterest recipes, perhaps I should print them out, or refer to the internet every once in awhile…).
And the beauty of it is two-fold, and then some: I can honestly say that I know my way around the kitchen now! We’re eating yummy food, and discovering what we like and don’t like. I cook the meal, he cleans up (good job, HBH). So last night, upon trying out twice-baked sweet potatoes (Martha Stewart), our analysis was the following: eh. I could live without this. (Hence why we need not even post the recipe). But the good old butter lettuce topped with lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper and parmesan shavings? Bring it.
And I like that I’ve figured out how to put that together.
What are YOU cooking? What’s your evolution been?