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Monday, June 07, 2010

I Can't Cook.... But Please, Don't Tell My Mother

I only bake... I do not cook.
I think it has something to do with my attention span.
Just recently when I tried to bake some cookies - which generally I am quite good at - I came across a couple of problems... missing ingredients, half full measuring cups left on the counter instead of poured into the bowl.
I even forgot to turn on the stove.
Focusing on what needed to be done just didn't seem to be possible.
But then again, who draws on their eggs before cracking them?

Apparently...I do.

I should have been focusing on other more important baking matters.
Or maybe not?
I was having fun in my kitchen, and that my friends does not happen very often.
(oops, I guess I should have added the rest of the flour that's sitting back there minding its own business)

Why, you ask?
I believe I suffer from cooking impair-edness, and I've decided that domestic ADHD might be the culprit.

While I have my hiccups in the kitchen, I feel fairly confident that I will not completely ruin a batch of cookies, even when minor mishaps happen.
It seems so much less intimidating than actually cooking a meal.

With baking, I only have to think about and tackle one dish at a time.  And I enjoy the time.
It involves a recipe that is generally thrown in a bowl.  The bowl is attached to my KitchenAid mixer and voila I have one less thing to focus on.
Someone/thing else does the stirring and I become mesmerized by the whip whapping.

But today as I was watching the cookie dough I had an epiphany.
I realized in my own way I was meditating.

Life became clear to me at the bottom of a cookie dough bowl.

~After a slight narrative I will reveal the epiphany further down this post...please bear with me~
Blog warning: As the owner of this blog I feel free to meander at will
What I have not mentioned is that I come from a long line of good cooks.
My Mom was always able to put something interesting before us on to the table.
We weren't always appreciative but we always had a meal of several dishes before us to try.
She had a lot of cook books and liked to use them.
She was willing to try almost anything.
I took it for granted how much work she went to, to feed us, until I had a family of my own.

Her mother was also a great cook, as was my Dad's mom.
Nothing fancy but always extremely tasty.
Always from the garden, I remember turnips and carrots mashed together with butter, and rhubarb and berries cooking on the stove.
They managed to create simple delicious fare day in and day out.

I on the other hand, did not receive the talent or gene that is required to be a good cook. And I know Mom would get upset with me for saying that because she believes that you can talk yourself into anything and it's simply a matter of trying, or possibly, a matter of having the right cookbook.
And I do get that a veggie side is easy to do, really I do. But it's the three other dishes that I would need to conjure up along side of it, that makes me wake up in a cold sweat at night with strange nightmares.
The nightmares involve food, and they are quite graphic.
For the life of me I can't figure out why? 
So I stick to cookies and on occasion banana bread.
If it requires chocolate chips I figure I can handle it.

For me, cooking a meal is a whole other thing, you need to have a plan, you need to know what comes next, you need to know how long something is cooking and where it is, and how much seasoning it needs, and where you last saw that seasoning, not to mention following several recipes at once.

This I find completely overwhelming, and overwhelmed is pretty much how I feel around 4 PM when I have to figure out what my family needs to eat on any given day. So I stick to baking. And generally I do OK.
The problem with this is, it is frowned upon by the general parenting establishment, to feed your kids chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, cupcakes for lunch and pudding for supper.
If that were allowed or healthy, I would be Mom of the Year.
In fact you would all be perusing my cook book for meal ideas.

But since I do not live in a "dessert for all, all the time" climate, I need to find three or perhaps five ingredient "simple fare" recipes.   That would be ideal.  Two would be even better but since that would probably mean mashed potatoes with salt every day, I doubt my family would be very happy or well nourished.

So in light of the fact that cooking is something I cannot hide from.  I realized I needed to embrace that which I fear.  Thus the epiphany which I mentioned a while back came to me as I meditated.

Baking I love, chocolate I love, cooking I am going to choose to love.

So I have decided to embark on a mission.  A mission, to try and find recipes that I can handle and yet have a taste that far exceeds the effort necessary to prepare it.

I will be creating a section called Good Eats which will enable even the most kitchen challenged mom to look like she knows what she's doing.

You see, I was thinking deep thoughts the other day and I came up with this:
If you look good, you feel good, and if you cook good, you look good, and therefore feel good.

I can't wait to start feeling good!  I've decided to unwrap, and celebrate the cook within!  Are you with me?


 I will be sharing my cooking journey with: 
Sweet Shot Day  tuesdays unwrapped at catsNewNostalgia

    XO

PS  If by chance you happen to have, or know of a recipe which would fall under the category of beginner and easy peasy with no more than five or so ingredients, that perhaps tastes as though it were the winner of an Iron Chef episode, please leave me the link or directions to the post in the comments section. I may have to send you some chocolate chip cookies as a way to say Thank you.
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44 comments:

  1. Love your writing -
    Craving your cookies -

    And I totally giggled out loud at your Egg!

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  2. I love to bake too...hate cooking. I think the "whip whapping' is the best part...now that you mention it...

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  3. I am exactly the same as you and my Mum says exactly the same things your Mum says. Lucky for me my husband works from home and cooks very well. We split the duties - he cooks and I bake. We are both happy with this. Good luck with your cooking.

    From the 3 sisters 365,
    Natasha, Stacey and Holly

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  4. I see nothing wrong in having cookies, cakes and pudding 3 times a day---at least you'll get your calcium with the milk you'll drink with it!

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  5. You are precious!! And my favorite food group is DESSERTS!

    I'll keep saying it over and over, I LOVE COMING TO YOUR BLOG!!

    Still smiling,

    Susan

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  6. Oh my goodness! I LOVE this post! I hope you have the best time on your quest for simple deliciousness!

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  7. Well, these aren't quite Iron Chef - worthy - but they are easy and tasty. All are pretty frequently on the menu here.

    1. Shake and Bake Oven "Stir Fry": we make this one with BBQ glaze shake and bake, peppers, and red onion. We have a rice cooker, so we throw some rice in that at the same time we're putting the "stir fry" into the oven.
    http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/recipes/shaken-bake-quick-oven-87558.aspx

    2. Mini Meatloaves - I use a bit of oregano and garlic powder as the "add-ins" and use whatever we have open for the sauce - salsa, various BBQ sauces, spaghetti sauce. A good side to have with these is potato/sweet potato fries. They also freeze well, so we'll get 2-3 meals out of a batch (there are only 2 of us + toddler)... they reheat from frozen in the microwave in a couple of minutes. When we're re-heating from frozen will often have frozen perogies fried with some peppers and onions, or maybe a "baked" potato in the microwave, and sometimes some frozen or canned corn.
    http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/recipes/marvelous-mini-meatloaves-88812.aspx

    3. 3-step chili suppers - very tasty chili! One of my husband's favorites. We use Aylmer Accents Chili-Style Diced tomatoes.
    http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/recipes/3-step-chili-suppers-84289.aspx

    4. Weeknight Lasagne Toss:
    http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/recipes/weeknight-lasagne-toss-97951.aspx

    And yes, I do realize these are all Kraft recipes. I swear, I make lots of things that aren't Kraft - these are just the ones that come to mind when I think easy and tasty.... to prove it to you, here are two other non-Kraft ones:

    5. BBQ Chicken Pasta: This sounds a little weird... and the smell was actually a little off-putting just when you get to the step of adding the BBQ sauce (at least it was for the sauce we used - Diana chicken and rib). But it's *very* tasty, and actually doesn't taste quite like what you think it will. I should also mention, anything else you find on Mel's website will be delicious!
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/03/bbq-chicken-pasta.html

    5. This one is probably the most complicated, but is still relatively easy, and is very tasty! When we moved from Ontario back to Nova Scotia, we missed Thai food very much, so were glad to find this recipe! All of the Asian ingredients I found at Superstore here in Atlantic Canada - it's Loblaws, so should be at Zehrs, Fortinos, etc. The chili paste I found was in a bottle with a rooster or something on it and is called something odd like "Salem Obeck Paste of Chili".
    http://www.aminglingoftastes.com/2007/07/thai-cashew-chicken.html

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  8. Another I'd rather feed you dessert than a meal person here! I recently found the perfect recipe for that "it's 4:00 and I have nothing to make for dinner" time of day and it is ridiculously easy. Even my kid with the major digestive issues loves and tolerates this one.

    Flatten chicken breasts (one per person). Spread them with butter or margarine (like toast but a bit thicker - I said it was easy). Sprinkle with chopped or sliced olives (I've used both green or black). Roll them up and put in a baking dish. Drizzle with juice from the olives and sprinkle some more olives on top. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes. That's it. Even us cooking challenged can handle this one and it tastes like you did something fancy.

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  9. Yay!!! I am all about simple, easy & one dish meals. You know that;) Before I started cooking & baking I would do things like burn a pot that was supposed to be boiling water. The whole thing intimidated me & finally one day I dove in & just figured "why the heck not try it?" And it's been a great journey!! I can't wait to see yours :)

    And your egg face is so adorable.

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  10. You are so adorable! I love the smiley face eggs!

    I cook far more than I bake. Although I enjoy baking, I'm not as creative. I'm an improvisation impresario when I cook, but I don't understand the science of baking enough to experiment - I follow recipes very closely.

    But that's when I get a little bored.

    But that bag of cookies looks lovely and you could certainly send some my way...waaaaayyyyy out on California!

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  11. Ok, I admit it, I LOVE to cook but... well it's trying to decide what to cook that gets me. Like this morning, I finally decided on toast w/ homemade "nutella" for breakfast.

    I will go through my notes and possibly get some great dishes to you. But first do you own a crockpot? And do you like pasta? Both are great for easy peasy recipes that require little of you. I keep a pantry full of different shaped pastas.
    Oriental flavour: spaghetti, diced chicken, a touch of orange marmalade, green onions, red chile sauce, diced garlic and frozen veggies of some sort.)
    Teriyaki: thinly beef/chicken/or chicken wings marinated in soy sauce/water/sesame seeds, green onions (tops only) and brown sugar. Baked or broiled. serve w/ rice, nice salad on the side.
    Hmm, I guess I should actually write figure out measurements and write them down.
    What flavours do you like? Spicy? Sweet? Asian(ton of categories there)? Barbeque? Hot? Mediterranean? Trust me there are tons of possiblities which only use a few ingredients....

    (By the way I come from a long line of great cooks but learned to cook on my own... Just had no interest while at home!)

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  12. I love the idea of putting a face on your eggs. Is that weird that I love that?
    It seems almost theraputic AND comical. Maybe I'll have to write on my eggs too.

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  13. I had no idea this post would garner so much helpful cooking info. At the last minute I decided to put in my PS request. THIS IS WONDERFUL! Thanks to you all! Is it possible this post may be the turning point for me in the kitchen? I sure hope so.
    xoxox
    Dana

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  14. Loved the egg pictures!! Too cute! And I will take a look at my recipes when I get home from vacation! Thanks so much!
    Hugs!
    Susan

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  15. Hi, I popped over from Sweet Shot Tuesday because I absolutely LOVED your egg faces! What a fun article and photos. I'm looking forward to sharing the egg faces with my grandkids today as I'm headed over there for some fun activities for grandparents and their grandchildren and that will be number one. Thanks for a fun smile for us all :)

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  16. Sweetie pie girlfriend honey chile: I will be right there holding your hand.

    My job is working for a caterer. I can MAKE anything. Last night I made chicken salad with mango chutney dressing for 50, chorizo and bacon wrapped dates, and pepper glazed tenderloin.

    I'm here, I'm here...no worries.

    Admitting is the first step in the right direction. You're out of the closet now, and we're all here for a group hug. Feels good to not hide it anymore, doesn't it?

    I love you, warts and all. You only fell a few rungs off the pedestal I have you on. But you're still on it.


    (((((((((((((((( ))))))))))))))

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  17. thanks for linking up to "AP tuesdays!" Looking forward to experiencing your cooking journey with you:)

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  18. This is a beautiul post. I love the photos. I love the face on the egg. I love the self knowledge. Beautiful.
    -Phyllis

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  19. Hi Miss Dana. Thanks for the sweet comment on my most recent family shoot. I would LOVE to see you do a family photo shoot this summer and I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from you too. I can also identify with your cooking dilemma. While I feel like it's not a matter of whether I 'can' cook, it's just that I don't really cook. I make hotdishes and casseroles and things that are foolproof and that I enjoy. I don't experiment. I am looking forward to the Good Eats and hope to get some ideas from you!

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  20. Well, I adore cooking, but I am still entirely intimidated by a whole chicken. Don't tell your Mama.

    Good luck on your little journey! I get a little excited with the thought that you may just fall in love...

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  21. This was such a great post.
    I love to cook and not bake.

    and you've inspired me . so that counts for something too,right?

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  22. I think sometimes I could also be described in the 'domestic ADHD' category! :)

    I'll be back with some recipes for you - I've got a bundle that are all family tested and approved!

    Cheers to your new goals and thanks for being a new friend at Wonder Woman Wannabe!!

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  23. Cute! Love the EGG!

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  24. For the record, I don't cook - I bake, too. And any easy peasy recipe? Feel free to share. ;)

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  25. oh, wow, i'm gonna have to go back and see all the comments and get good ideas!!! ok, i have 2 words for you... crock pot!!! almost all my crock pot recipes are only a few ingredients and are sooo easy and so so so good! so here's one for the trying that will go perfect with your eat everyday mashed potatoes. ;)

    Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast

    1 boneless chuck roast
    2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
    1 pk onion soup mix
    a little water (or red wine is esp. nice)

    put all ingredients in your crock pot. let cook all day on low (8-10 hrs). enjoy enjoy enjoy!!

    p.s. thanks for stopping by...love your place, too!

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  26. i'm a baker too. i do not cook. at least not very well. my husband seems to think it's a ploy for HIM to cook all the time. let's face it, he's better than me.
    :)

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  27. A note to Kelly, whom I am unable to find through blogger. I will be trying each and every one! I hope you will be able to hear my HUGE THANK YOU though the blogosphere.
    Dana

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  28. LOL, what an eggscellent, fun and thoughtful post! Love the egg face piX. Best wishes as you stretch yourself to broaden your cooking skills.

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  29. I taught myself to cook when i was 15...so i am one of those, "lets see, what am i gonna fix tonight?...a little of this a little of that and a drop of the other"...it usually turns out good, no one has kicked off yet and i've been doing it for almost 50 years. The big problem with it though, is there is no recipe so i can never make the exact same thing twice! LOL!
    I don't do cookies, but love baking bread and such.
    This was a lovely post, i enjoyed it so much.

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  30. Oh yes! Please share all of the easy recipes you find! I will send you a few when I have more time!

    Love the little egg.

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  31. Ok here's the deal. We'll trade skills: I cook but I'm a lousy baker. In fact I think cooking comes easier because if you're missing an ingredient you can always wing it. Not so much with the baking.
    My summer manifesto includes some baking...Should be fun to watch ;o)

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  32. I'm not a natural cook at all. And baking? Not so great. There's a few things I bake relatively well - I just didn't inherit my mother's natural baking gene, that's all.

    So I only choose easy recipes. I have a recipe blog (link on my homepage) if you wanna check it out. ALL easy. I know it's easy - because even I can make what's there!

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  33. I can make maybe three things well. And one of my goals for the summer is to learn to cook. Let's take this journey together. I'm ready. And I'm copying your comments. K?

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  34. WOW... I love that the poor egg has a face. I too have a cooking-phobeia. It's mostly because the fire alarm is a British Gal and she spooks my kids. I have a cookbook from the bargain bin called 5-ingredient cookbook. It has some amazing recipes in it... problem is I NEVER have those ingredients on hand.

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  35. What an adorable blog you have here! I'm now a follower. I'd love for you to come see me - I'm giving away 3 super glammy Sam Moon cuff bracelets here:
    www.sceneofthegrime.blogspot.com
    ♥Laurie

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  36. So awesome! LOVE the egg pics~you re so creative!!! I just caught up on all of your posts & I am in awe of your writing & photos!

    Amy from AP Tuesdays @ New Nostalgia has great recipes!! My fave is her So Very Teriyaki Bowtie Chicken Salad. You can cook things ahead & then mix it when needed. Also, if you don't add the spinach, it keeps for at least a couple of days.

    Also, another great source for easy & yummy recipes is http://sabbyinsuburbia.blogspot.com

    Thanks for all your hard work on your blog Dana. Love the pic of your nanna at the computer!! hope your weather is wonderful~rain here today!

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  37. Dana,
    I'm so glad you have stopped on in to visit my blog (two-days-in-a-row). I love having "company"... consider this place home.
    So guess what??? I checked out your blog and to my surprise you looked familiar. So, I took a look at your photos... and saw the ones from the pioneer museum.
    I think we live in the same CITY. Can you believe that? Crazy.
    Most of my readers are from the US or other countries. I have a few from Canada (the ones I haven't met) and then my "slew" of friends from around these parts.
    Never did I think a "local" would just happen upon my blog.... I love it!
    Much love,
    ~Manda

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  38. THanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your sweet words about my family photos....you must know that I am officially already jealous of you...you see, I've always wanted to live in Canada...don't ask why...I have no idea. Just something that I have always envied. Maybe it's cause I love cold weather and somehow ended up here in TN where right this second it is 80 degrees with 100% humidity. Oh well, maybe I'll live in Canada vicariously through your blog now. ;-)

    I must pass along this recipe..it is a staple in my house. I too do not cook but love to bake. Which is another reason I should live in Canada next door to you. Can you even imagine how good our street would smell?!?!?

    Crockpot Chicken:

    1 Lb. (or more) Frozen Chicken Breast (it is important that it be frozen for moisture)
    8 oz. Sour Cream (I use lite)
    1 packet Dry Onion Soup mix
    1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I use 99%Fat Free)

    That's FOUR ingredients!!!!

    mix sour cream, onion soup mix, and soup together and pour on top of chicken in crockpot. I add about half can of water but you don't have to.

    Let cook on low all day (about 6-8 hours)

    We serve ours over whole wheat egg noodles
    But is is also good over brown rice. :-)

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  39. Here's my easy one that everyone loves though not Iron Chef material....

    Not That Green Bean Casserole

    However much ground beef you need to make the number of meatballs for everyone eating.
    Salt
    Pepper
    chopped onion (I used dried onion chips and don't rehydrate - just put in as is)
    1 can green beans (cut ones not whole - any cut is OK) - DO NOT DRAIN OUT JUICE
    Potatoes, peeled and quartered.

    Make ground beef into meatballs big or small whatever you like (yes don't do anything or add anything to the meat - just shape into meatballs). Put meatballs into large skillet that has a lid (I use a cast iron skillet).

    Pour in can of green beans and juice over meatballs in the pan. Add quartered raw potatoes on top of beans and meatballs. Sprinkle in dried onion or add fresh chopped onion to taste (as much or as little as you like). Salt and pepper to taste.

    Cover and cook on medium-low heat on stovetop. If it starts bubbling over lid, turn down to low. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. SERVE!

    My kids love the meatballs with lots of ketsup. Meat is flavored by green bean juice, steam cooks potatoes and you have a whole meal in one pan; meat, veggies, potatoes.

    Sounds weird but is always a hit when I serve it.

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  40. Great idea Dana - I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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  41. Thank you Julie, Anything with meatballs will be a hit! I will have to try it this coming weekend.
    Dana

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  42. sloppy joe tacos

    Fry up a pound of ground beef
    when cooked add a can of tomatoe paste, and a can of water,
    Add 1 package of taco seasoning.

    Put hamburger mix into hard taco shells, top with chedder cheese, and cook for 10 min at 325 in the oven.

    Easy Peasy, and you can top them with any taco toppings you like, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoe, salsa! My kids love these! So so so easy and so tasty!

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  43. Oh by the way, I'm from that same small Canadian city as well! What a small world we live in!

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