I made this, and I didn’t throw it away.
My apologies, readers. You know I do my best to avoid cooking! And I’ll be doing so for the rest of time…‘til the cows come home… or Jesus comes back.
We might as well say, “That’ll never happen til Esther cooks.” It’s the same thing.
Some people always feel sorry for me that I can’t cook. When they find out, there’s this moment of death that comes over their faces. “But don’t you live by yourself?” they say. Then a look of unquestionable pity. Me over here? I’m like:
It doesn’t bother me. But it bothers you.
I guess I feel the same way when I find out people don’t like running or reading books. I feel sorry for them.
Why don’t I cook?
- Because: time. Just like you, I’m really busy. And I fill my life with things that intrigue me a whole lot more than cooking does. Like fitness. And reading. Or sleeping. Add to that my (more than) full-time job, and when I get home from a 12 hour work day, cooking is the last activity in the world that I could ever be prevailed upon to… er, start.
- Because: money. I just moved into my own apartment, and my cupboards are still a little bare. Instead of spending money on like 17 organic spices, Le Creuset cookware, and shallots, I saved up and bought a microwave! Bacon, anyone? …And even then, you can live without a microwave. I did for two months. I’m amazed at the things I haven’t managed to buy yet. I’ve lived without flour or oil since I moved. Four months ago. #nonbaker
- Because: single. Cooking for one person is the worst. I mean, it’s great that it’s low-stakes (if I mess up, peanut butter and jelly is my favorite) but if something actually succeeds, meaning it’s not inedibly raw, it’s going to last for at least four meals. And I. Hate. Leftovers. Eating the same thing four days in a row makes me sad. Especially because I can guarantee you that it was pretty bland in the first place. Also, it’s sometimes hard to buy ingredients for just one person. Ingredients don’t stay fresh, and I end up having to throw away much more food than I intended. Therefore, I don’t “cook” in that traditional sense because it’s hard to keep everything fresh.
- Because: food allergies. Like some of the rest of you over-25ers, in the past couple of years, my digestive system went on strike, and I’m still in the aftermath of trying to figure out what my body will tolerate. Most of the time when I eat, I’m anxious to see that my body accepts it (instead of violently reacting, sending me to the floor in agony), rather than being anxious to see if it tastes good or not. So I find it hard to get excited about food-related activities.
Another cooking problem I have is that as a runner, I think of food as fuel, which doesn’t necessarily relate to fine dining experiences. I recognize that my main thought during the week is, “Did I eat enough protein today?” rather than, “Did I sit down and enjoy a good meal today?” Right now I’m content just knowing that I ingested a decent blend of lean proteins and carbs for the week, rather than figuring out how to plate them with any sort of culinary intelligence. When I fix my cooking problem (right before pigs fly and right after the fat lady sings), I’ll have to address the issue of food as fuel. Because sucking an energy gel on mile 10 while wiping your runny nose and mopping sweat is not the road to fine dining. No, it’s more the road to: how many pieces of pizza should I eat during carb-loading? Food as fuel is spoonfuls of peanut butter, forkfuls of beef, and handfuls of guilt-less bread indulgence. Two hours spent running on Saturday mornings is two hours not spent planning meals, organizing ingredients, and making a dish that tastes mediocre instead of terrible.
But this week I ran out of excuses of not cooking. Namely, I had nary food in the house. So I decided to go buy a bunch of meat and some general ingredients for cooking it in. One of my roommates in Indiana is famous for cooking chicken in red wine, so I decided to try this.
It was a surprise for me to find no alcohol at Walmart. Apparently Wal-marts in Pennsylvania don’t sell alchohol. But they do sell one kind of cooking wine. (I later found out that one NEVER EVER cooks with cooking wine. You should only cook with wine you would drink. Sigh. Nobody told ME.) I snatched up a cheap bottle. Returning home with my salmon, lemon juice, and spices, I turned to the chicken and red wine.
I lightly browned two chicken breasts in… blast, I had no oil. Butter would have to do. Removing the chicken, I sautéed mushrooms, then poured in about a cup of red wine, waiting patiently for it to “reduce,” whatever that meant. Basically, I just got bored watching the wine cook, so I just moved on to the next step. (The wine, cooking, had by now made my apartment smell like a back-country Kentucky still.) Next I added the chicken back into the wine and then scoured my cupboards for something besides salt and pepper to flavor it. I came up with garlic. And a bit of parmesan.
(I would have added brown sugar, but again, I’m staple-less.) After a very long time, my chicken came out looking decent.
It had a nice flavor when paired with the mushrooms (ridiculously rich from the butter and wine), but the meat was dry and my mushrooms a little burnt.
I also had cooked some sweet potatoes and topped them with a special sweet sauce (otherwise known as pancake syrup).
Successes: Two meals—one fresh, and one for the fridge. The perfect amount for one person!
Failures: Dry chicken, no brown sugar, lame sweet potatoes.
But lest you think that I’m about to announce my resolve to learn to cook, here is a week’s worth of meal-planning options with NO COOKING INVOLVED!
Here are some ways that may help you get out of cooking:
- Eat out.
- Eat leftovers from eating out.
- Eat breakfast for dinner.
- Eat sandwiches for dinner.
- Eat salad.
- Eat a German bread dinner.
- Repeat #5, but add croutons.
Okay, I think I’m done. Now I look forward to reading all the comments about how “this would NEVER work in my family with my husband/kids.. blah blah.” Yeah, well, guess what? There are a ton of cooking blogs out there for people like you, serves six. But not a ton for single people. Get it?