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Burn notice

9 Mar

Most kitchen cabinets are filled with spices, Tupperware, tea bags, cups and dishes. My cabinets have a bit extra–band aids, peroxide, burn cream and I think there was gauze in there at one point. While I understand that a first aid kit in a kitchen is a good idea, for me it’s necessity. Why? Because I injure myself in the kitchen on at least a weekly basis.

Just two days ago, I stabbed myself with a knife. It was an innocent accident involving an avocado but man, does that tiny little puncture wound hurt! This incident is just the most recent in a long line of kitchen injuries that make me look like I’ve been at war with my kitchen and the kitchen emerges victorious.

Some of the injuries are minor–a cut from a can, a slice from a knife or a surface burn from too hot water or oil. However, I have managed to score some serious battle scars during my time in the kitchen. I have a pretty good scar on my hand from the time I sliced it open on…something. I don’t remember what I was cutting but there sure was a lot of blood! But the absolute worst kitchen scar I have in on my right forearm.

How did I get this scar? Well, for my husband’s 30th birthday, I decided to cook him dinner since I couldn’t afford to take him out. I asked what he wanted and the menu was simple: steak, baked sweet potato and sautéed asparagus. The steak and asparagus were no problem but the sweet potato presented some challenges.

To start with, I had never baked a sweet potato before, never mind actually using the oven to do it (my potatoes are baked where every good potato is baked…the microwave). So I wrapped the potato in tin foil, put it in the oven on broil and let it do its thing. After about 1/2 hour or so, I decided to check on it. I put on the oven mitts and in I went.

Now, a word about oven mitts–they don’t cover your whole arm. They only go up to about your mid-forearm. So, if you’re going to pull food out of the oven, it is important to remember that there are parts of your arm exposed. These parts should never, under any circumstances, touch the metal part of the oven just inside the door (it’s OK if you need to stop reading to go check your oven to see what I’m talking about). It’s really, really, really hot.

But that’s exactly what happened to me. I had a moment of carelessness or stupidity, I’m not sure which, and somehow managed to singe my arm on that metal part. A huge blister (we’re talking HUGE. Domed sports stadiums could have been modeled after that thing) formed on my arm instantly. It was disgusting. And it hurt.  A lot. 

I put everything I could think of on it. Water, butter (full disclosure: butter and I don’t have a good track record. Just as it’s not good for burns, it’s also not good for greasing your arm when it’s stuck behind a couch. I don’t care what they show on TV) and burn cream. Nothing could calm that sucker down. It just kept growing, like a giant tidal wave of disgustingness and pain. Let’s not even discuss what happened when that thing popped. I shudder just remembering it. And you, my dear friends, deserve to have an appetite today.

Eventually, the pain subsided and the blister disappeared but now I’m left with a freakish looking scar right in the middle of my arm. I’m also left with a constant reminder of what I put myself through in the name of love! I’ll tell you this, though–it’s my trump card. If my husband ever dares (and he’s smart enough not to but just in case) to complain that I don’t do anything for his birthday, I just pull out the scar. To quote Michael Caine in Miss Congeniality, you can’t beat that.

The meatloaf incident

3 Mar

I come from a long line of women who are nothing if not stubborn. Seriously, we’re about as stubborn as they get. You cannot make a woman in my family do anything she does not want to do. Persuasion, bribery, threats–all futile methods. How did we get this way? One word–meatloaf.

Meatloaf is gross. It’s just a big lump of meat sitting in a pile, spotted with what pretends to be vegetables and is held together with a weird glue of eggs and breadcrumbs. And I’m still not sure I understand how it gets that brick-like shape. Is there a special meatloaf/brick pan that one can buy? Is there a mold? Never mind. I’m not really sure I want the answer.

Anyway, growing up, my mother insisted on making this meal for our family. While she and my dad think it’s this amazing comfort food, she somehow got it in her head that my middle sister and I agreed. We did not. Seriously, what child, looking at meatloaf, is not a combination of scared, intrigued, and disgusted? My sister and I were all three.

It was all we could do to not just sit there and poke at it with a fork. It was hard not to experiment on the science experiment sitting on our plates (though I did reserve endurance tests for spaghetti but that’s another story). My parents, happily eating the meat mass, would consistently (and constantly) remind us that “Mom is not a restaurant.” Or ” This is dinner and you better eat it” (ah, the combination of fear of dinner combined with the fear of dad. Tasty). Or the ever popular “It’s not that bad” (now that’s encouraging).

But my sister and I stood our ground. We sat there, staring from our plates to each other and back to our plates. After about 1/2 hour of this, I came to the conclusion that I had better things to do than battle with meatloaf (and my parents). So I finally relented, smothered the whole thing in ketchup and choked it down. I threw my plate in the sink and ran from the kitchen as fast as I could (which was not so fast considering I had a ketchup covered meat brick in my stomach). But my sister was not about to give up.

My sister continued to sit there for at least another hour. And the longer she sat, the colder and more disgusting the meatloaf got. Hot meatloaf is bad enough but cold meatloaf? There is no word for how disgusting it looks and smells. I tried talking to her and encouraging her to do as I did–use the ketchup covering and basically swallow the thing whole so you don’t actually have to taste it. She didn’t listen. My parents cleaned up the kitchen and all that was left was my sister and her plate. She didn’t care. She was not about to give in.

And my poor parents. They were not prepared for what they were up against. You see, my sister was a stubbornness protegé. Even at the age of 8 or 9, she could stand her ground with the best of them. And she did. The great meatloaf battle lasted well over 2 hours, with my parents finally putting the fear of G-d into my sister (the only proven method for dealing with a stubborn woman in my family). I was not in the kitchen when she had to eat it–I had retreated to my bedroom for safety–but I heard it was ugly and definitely a little messy. There were lots of tears and yelling. But eventually, my parents got (well, forced) my sister to eat the meal. And so began the legend of “The Meatloaf Incident”. 

My sister and I might have lost the battle but we won the war. While my sister and I lived at home, my mother never made meatloaf again after that night. It’s was a small victory for my sister and me.  We stopped the cycle of meatloaf. Except for one person. You know who you are and we’re going to get you. I promise.

The devil wears a green uniform

24 Feb

I typically prefer my own homemade cookies to storebought cookies. I like controlling the ingredients that are used, tweaking the recipes to my liking and I like when none of the cookies have the same shape. But once a year, I allow cookies into my house that are made in a factory, come in a box and all look the same. What cookies could have such control over me? The answer is simple–Girl Scout cookies.

I do not know what it is about those cookies that are so enticing. I do have one theory–they’re laced. It’s the only explanation as to why 1) I cannot resist them if they are within 50 feet of my eyesight and 2)I cannot eat any less than 4 at a sitting.  And the guerilla marketing tactics are also not fair. 

Every Saturday, after I leave the supermarket, there they are, camped out in their green uniforms, looking all sweet and innocent, pushing their boxes of Tagalongs, Samoas and Thin Mints. They know you can’t resist so they carefully display the boxes which seem to say “buy me. You know you want to”. And the rainbow array of boxes, they’re just so pretty, like a sparkly 4 carat diamond or Wentworth Miller. You can’t take your eyes off them no matter how hard you try. So, powerless and helpless, I open my wallet and see what cash is left.

Carefully, I scan the crowd to make sure no one I know is nearby and pick out my prize. I do that quick walk-run to my car, put the groceries in the trunk (of course, I keep the cookies in the front seat) and hop in the driver’s seat. I peel out of the parking lot, hoping to get home before the cookies somehow realize that I am about to massacre them and jump out of the car. But just knowing that those cookies are in the passenger seat makes me break out into a small sweat; I have to have them and I have to have them right then. So, at the first red light, I tear into the box and eat some cookies. What’s unfortunate is that I live 5 minutes from the supermarket. That is the control these cookies have over me.

The supermarket tactics are not the only way these cookies make it into my house. For the unashamed, like my husband, there’s the cookie sign-up sheet/order for that’s left in every office kitchen or breakroom around the country. On the sign-up sheets, you declare “I love these cookies and I am proud!” You lay it all out there for everyone to see. They can see how much you love the cookies by how many boxes you buy. And those people that say they buy all those boxes so they last all year, well, I’m convinced they lie. I have no proof of this except for the fact that that’s what I would do. But I would never use the order form. It would just be too embarrassing.

Whoever decided that using cute little kids to sell cookies is a diabolical genius. It is, hands down, the best marketing campaign tool ever. Actually, I think that the mastermind behind this is also the same person behind the combination of chocolate and peanut butter (there is a reason Tagalongs are my favorite). But these cookies don’t need clever marketing; they sell themselves. If you need proof, check your own pantry. I’m sure there’s a box in there!

Learning to fry

23 Feb

Growing up, my mom never really fried foods (with the exception of potato latkes or the occasional eggplant) so learning how to fry foods never really crossed my mind. Fried chicken (from Fireside!) was a huge treat. It was an irregular, special food that was saved for gatherings with friends or a holiday or a party. But all of that changed when I met my husband.

My husband grew up in the “country” (lower Delaware; I’m still on the fence as to whether it’s the actual country or a country wannabe). To country folk, fried foods are a main diet staple. Seriously, they fry everything. Oysters, chicken, bacon, vegetables…everything. So when we started living together it was sort of expected that I would prepare fried foods on a regular basis, not just as the special treat that I was accustomed to. This was a huge, daunting task for which, like everything kitchen related, I was substantially ill prepared.

The first food I ever tried to fry was a chicken cutlet. Seems simple enough, right? Not so much. While the oil was heating, I breaded the chicken and set up the paper-towel-on-a-plate drainage system that I had seen my mother use. I kept an eye on the oil but having absolutely no knowledge of what fry-ready oil looked like, I took a guess. I guessed wrong.

As I added the chicken cutlet to the oil, I watched and waited for magic to happen. I watched and waited for a beautifully colored, perfectly cooked chicken cutlet that would taste as good as it looked. What I got instead was a burned on the outside, raw on the inside, charred mess of meat. It was horrifying (and completely inedible). But what was even more horrifying was the scene that occurred as I was cooking.

After the chicken was added to the pan with the oil, I spent the next few minutes dodging the barrage of hot oil bullets that were jumping and flying out of the pan. It was like a mortar attack of oil and the target was me. I kept pleading and begging the oil to stop shooting at me but it just wouldn’t listen. Finally, I hid for cover on the other side of the kitchen. But I was only safe for so long.

At some point, I realized that I needed to return to the scene of the crime. I spent a minute or so battling with myself, deciding whether to approach the pan head on or complete a sneak attack from the side (if a SWAT team had been available, I probably would have called on them). I made the decision that I would confront my lava-like enemy from the front. So in I went, armed with only a pair of tongs. I stood there, taking bullets, so I could flip the chicken. Yes, all of this happened and I still had to cook the other side.

I repeated the same procedure for the other side of the chicken. And when it was all over, the chicken was murdered, I was covered in oil and my stove looked like a war zone. The kicker of the whole event was this–never once did it occur to me that putting a lid on the pan would have prevented the whole darn mess. 

I’ve learned my lesson since that day. I still can’t fry food properly.  I still dodge the occassional oil bullet and food still sticks to the pan, but I no longer cower in fear from the frying pan and I even remember to use a lid. I consider that a major victory.

One potato, two potato…wow, that’s a lot of potatoes!

21 Feb

In 2001, after 5 years of dating, my then-boyfriend (now my husband) decided that it was time for our parents to meet. Rather than scheduling this for a normal, informal meal, we decided to arrange it during the holiday of all holidays–Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is no small feat for even the most experienced cook, never mind a 24 year old novice. But I was determined to make it a memorable holiday. I had no idea just how right I was destined to be.

While everyone was milling about our small1  bedroom apartment, playing the uncomfortable game of “getting to know you even though our kids have been dating for 5 years”, I was slaving away in the kitchen, measuring and pouring, pouring and measuring, opening boxes and juggling pots and pans. The stuffing and cranberry sauce–easy enough. The green bean casserole–no problem since my mom made it. But then, there was the potatoes.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever made instant mashed potatoes. Just in case you haven’t, here’s the rundown: you measure water, milk and butter and bring it all to boil in a pot. When the liquid boils, you add the premeasured potato flakes and quickly remove it from the heat. Stir with a fork, let it sit for a few minutes and bam–mashed potatoes! Sounds easy enough, right?

In an effort to make sure that there was plenty of food, I had decided I would make the entire box of potatoes. After all, I was serving 8 people and mashed potatoes are always really popular. So, I took the large box of potato flakes that I had purchased and measured what the box said was the proper amounts for the entire box. I took care to use my largest pot and paid careful attention to the boiling liquid so I could add the flakes at just the right time. But I must have fallen asleep standing up because the next thing I knew, the potato equivalent of a volcanic eruption took over my stove.

But unlike a volcano, this eruption gave no warning. There was no pre-eruption splatter, no ugly gurgle, no smoke signal. There was just a moment of calm and then potatoes were everywhere. They were  spilling out of the pot, crawling down the burner, spreading all over the rest of the stove. It was a literal tsunami of potatoes, drowning everything in its path. Nothing was safe. And I was completely paralyzed. Even though I stood there, watching the river of potatoes coat my stove, I couldn’t move to stop it.

The next thing I knew, the loudest, barbaric cry I had ever screamed came out of my mouth. My mother and my boyfriend-turned-husband came running in to the kitchen. They were expecting to see a finger laying on the ground or skin melting off my hand. But instead, they saw a potato swamp. As they stood there laughing, they threw paper towels at me to stop the destruction. At some point, someone pulled the pot off the burner, but it didn’t matter. The damage was done.

Oh, the food wasn’t damaged. We managed to salvage the rest of the food and the meal went quite smoothly (if you count my sister sitting in our Christmas tree as smoothly; I do). No, it was my ego that was damaged. To this day, I cannot prepare mashed potatoes (which, ironically enough, has become my traditional Thanksgiving job) without someone mentioning the great potato event of 2001. It’s quite embarassing, especially considering the cook I have turned into. But I made my goal–I made that day memorable.  

Just ask my mother. She gave the ultimate approval when she…punctuated the day. Thanks, mom!

(And for the record…I no longer use instant mashed potatoes. I’m afraid of another revolt.)

Why I care about food

19 Feb

I’ve often wondered why food is so important to me for reasons other than basic sustenance. Then one day, it hit me. I can’t help it. I’m Jewish. And to Jews, food is priority #1.

Ask any Jew about any Jewish holiday and she won’t tell you the significance of the holiday or even when it is. She will tell you about the food. Ask about Passover, and you’ll be told “ugh, matzah! And we don’t get to eat until midnight!” Before Purim look for statments like “oh, yeah, that’s the one with hamantashen. But eat the apricot ones, not the prune.”  Hanukkah’s definition sounds like this: “Presents, potato lakes and gelt.”

Then there’s the holiday de resistance for a Jew–Yom Kippur. That’s the one where we fast. You want a Jew to repent for his sins, take away the ability to eat food. But don’t think that will stop us from relentlessly talking about what we’re going to eat when we break fast or what we wish we were eating that day. Seriously, thoughts about food become all consuming. Your stinky neighbor at temple? Eventually he starts to smell like chocolate cake. And after a while even gum sounds like a delicacy.

Our obsession with food stops at doesn’t stop with holidays. Oh, no. Ask any Jew about any wedding, bar/bat mitzvah or other major event and the response will sound like this, “The bride (bat mitzvah girl, whomever) looked beautiful. But the food, oy, was it delicious (or horrible or dry or overcooked)!”.  The measure of whether an event was successful or not is for how long after the event guests still talk about the food.

Food isn’t just important during happy times. Food is also important during sad times such as death. In the Jewish religion, when a person dies, the family sits shiva. People will pay their respect to the family at the “shiva house” (it is of utmost importance to know which is the shiva house because that is where all the food goes). After most funerals, you will hear “where are they sitting shiva?” (I’m convinced this has two purpose–being respectful and being hungry.)

Upon making a shiva call, after expressing sympathies and condolences to the grieving family, people make a literal beeline for the deli platters, pickle trays and mounds of potato salad and coleslaw. If you’re lucky, you’ll show up on the night when the family received kosher chicken! To be a fly on a wall while a family is sitting shiva not only means you’ll get to feast but you’ll overhear coversations like “this chicken is delicious. I wonder where it came from.” “Oh, I think it came from Ben’s.” “Ben’s, really? I didn’t think Ben’s was this good!”  Sometimes the conversations even involve both the deceased and food (“Murray loved chicken from Ben’s!”) The grief buffets lasts long after the family is done sitting shiva but it’s often filled with the stuff that no one wants to eat (to this day, I still don’t understand why 90 pounds of kasha varnishkes was delivered after my grandfather passed away. I think I’ve met 3 people who like it). Yet somehow, all of that food disappears.

The disappearing food might have something to do with the cornerstone of the relationship between Jews and food–Jewish mothers (and grandmothers, aunts, etc). There is something about being near a Jewish mother that makes you want to eat. I’m not sure if it’s the guilt (“do you know how long it took me to make this?!”) or the fact that most socializing in a Jewish home takes place in the kitchen (I’m positive this is carefully calculated) but whatever it is, Jewish mothers have some sort of witch-like ability to make us want to eat.

My own mother and grandmothers have passed this trait on to me. Whenever someone comes to my house, I have an uncontrollable urge to feed them. I can’t help it. It just comes out, like a loud burp. A visitor could walk into my house carrying an entire grocery bag full of food and I will not be able to stop myself from saying “can I get you anything?” Some may think this is being a good host; I think it’s akin to being a drug dealer. Except instead of pushing drugs, I’m pushing baked goods.

The relationship between Jews and food is one that could be explored in volumes of research books and perhaps several thousand therapy session transcriptions. But that relationship has helped shape who I am and what I value. And I’m OK with that.

The most disgusting food. Ever.

11 Feb

When you think of Delaware, you don’t exactly think of anything particular except for maybe Joe Biden or Ryan Phillippe. If you’re financially savvy, you probably think of Bill Roth or the credit card industry. But in it’s own way, Delaware has achieved some sort of mid-level fame.

If you’re a fan of channels like the Travel Channel, you’ve seen places in and around Delaware have been highlighted on TV shows such as Ghost Hunters and the Top 10 Places to Pig Out (interestingly enough, the eatery featured on that show, Cluck U, is no longer around). Our Punkin Chunkin’ contest was featured on the science channel. Now, I don’t particulary have a problem with these particular products of Delaware. I do, however, have a huge problem with scrapple.

Although it does not have it’s true origins in Delaware, the origins are close enough (Lancaster, PA). But regardless of its real origins, scrapple is perhaps the most digusting food on earth. I would rather eat a plateful of live crickets than consume one bite of scrapple. In case you’re not familiar with this particular abomination, here’s a brief description: it is mix of all the pig parts not good enough for a hot dog or sausage (such as the head, heart, and snout), chopped up and cooked down and then combined with seasonings, then molded into a big brick of grey meat. It is the only food that Guy Fieri was wary of eating. Seriously, how would you feel if someone tried to make you eat this (notice the grey-ish hue underneath the top):

It’s horrid and it smells as bad as it looks. The smell that eminates from cooked scrapple is one that lingers and you continue to smell days later. It’s a smell that not even Febreeze can take care of! Yet for some reason, it is insanely popular in Delaware and across the region. At the Delaware State Fair, the longest line is at, you guessed it, the scrapple stand. For $1, you can buy this atrocity on bread and it’s called a sandwich. I can understand a lot of things. But for the life of me, I cannot understand the popularity of this sandwich:

I have even overheard numerous debates as to which brand, Rapa or Habbersett, is best. How can you debate which brick of pig scraps tastes better? I would assume that all pig snout tastes the same. And that’s just a guess because even when I did eat meat, I could not bring myself to eat scrapple. Could you?

Scrapple is banned from my house 364 days a year. 1 day a year, Christmas day, my husband is allowed to bring it in and cook it for Christmas breakfast. But there are rules. For instance, I will not touch it. I will not spend the money to buy it. It is not allowed anywhere near anything else in my fridge (it gets its own shelf). It must be wrapped in 2 plastic bags and leftovers are not allowed; whatever is not eaten goes straight into the trash. I can’t stomach the thought of it staying in my house beyond that one day. 

I know that scrapple seems like a joke. It seems like something Dwight Schrute would eat or something that would be one of those gross food challenges on Survivor. But I assure you, it’s very real. When I begin my campaign for ruler of the universe, one of my campaign platforms will be to rid the world of scrapple. I think the world would be a better place without it. Don’t you?

Idle hands make cookies

6 Feb

“There’s nothing to do when you’re locked into vacancy”–John Bender, The Breakfast Club

This weekend, the mid-Atlantic has been pummeled by what President Obama laughingly referred to as “Snowmaggedon”. He wasn’t kidding. There is nothing less than 20″ of snow covering my house. My state has declared a state of emergency which means I can’t go anywhere, even if I could get my car out of my neighborhood (just want to give a big shout out to Mike: thank you for your snowblower!). My house is clean (enough), today is my day off  from both my full-time job and part-time job and there’s nothing good on TV. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, if you’re a girl like me,  you bake cookies. And not just one kind. You bake 3 kinds. What kinds, you ask? Well, I made peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies and cinnamon sugar cookies. I wanted to make oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip cookies, but I’m out of raisins and chocolate chips. So I just made the three.  And here’s how some of them look (and I apologize in advance for the way they look. My cooking is not very pretty):

Needless to say, my husband and daughter love the fact that when I’m bored, I bake. They get tasty treats and I get to keep busy, which means they also get to make a huge mess without me noticing. Everyone wins!

And lest you think I only feed my family cookies, I did also make noodle soup (like chicken noodle soup only without the chicken. I am a vegetarian) and lentil stew. I don’t just ply my family with sugar. Especially when we can’t go outside to burn it off!

I broke the rules…

29 Jan

…But I’m OK with it.

Today was a big day for my family. Today was the day we made our final payment on our credit card debt. We have worked for 33 months to get to this day. It took a lot of hard work, long hours working second jobs, sacrificing many, many wants, paring back our needs and sometimes living with things that we really didn’t want to. It was worth it, though, because today we are free!!! And a month early, too!

I was completely prepared to go home from work and make dinner since one of rules for the Aldi experiment was not going out to dinner for the entire duration of the experiment (the one exception was when my parents and sister were visiting from New York). But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we deserved to celebrate in style. Or for at least under $30.

We are not big on going out to eat but the places we do go generally cost us around $30 for our food, drinks and tip. While driving to the bank to get our biweekly cash allotment of $500, we asked our daughter what she wanted for dinner. She told us a hamburger. Lucky for us, there’s a phenomenal local burger chain, Jake’s, that has amazing food for reasonable prices (seriously, it’s amazingly awesome food and it’s really not that expensive). So, off to Jake’s we went. We all ordered our food and our bill comes up…$16.24 for 3 burgers (2 hamburgers, 1 veggie burger for me), an order of onion rings, an order of fries and 3 drinks. To our utter joy and surprise, our daughter’s food was completely free! Apparently, Jake’s has a kids eat free policy which worked out great for us.

$16.24 for 3 people to go out to eat.  And worth every last penny. We commented over our delicious food that it’s amazing how our habits have changed so much on our 33 month journey to credit card freedom. Three years ago, we would have treated ourselves to sushi or some other really expensive meal. We probably would have also treated ourselves to some new toy or gadget or who knows. But we were satisfied with our $16.24 meal and the family time we had together. We realized that when it all comes down to it, that’s about all we need.

It was so liberating to be able to treat ourselves (dinner was paid for out of our miscellaneous budget category) and not worry that it was money that should have gone to a credit card. That feeling alone was worth breaking the rules.

Real women cook meatloaf

13 Jan

Well, I don’t. But you can substitute meatloaf with meatballs, hamburgers or chili. The point is, real women cook real food.

Women on TV and in movies sit firmly in one of two categories–gourmet chef or kitchen disaster. They either burn water or cook meals so elaborate that most women feel inferior because they cannot live up to the imaginary standard. But the truth of the matter is, more women cook like Roseanne Conner than Monica Geller. And that’s OK. Roasted chicken with mango chutney and carmelized onions, parmesan-crusted potatoes and grapefruit smoothies is not a normal meal. Chicken cutlets, applesauce and iced tea is a normal meal for most people.

The fact that you can’t cook to perfection or cook gourmet style should not inhibit you at all from trying to cook. The fact that your meals do not look like a spread fit for Martha Stewart Living is acceptable. What you see on TV or in the movies is not real! So, please, do not think for one minute that anyone you cook for will not appreciate a homemade meal, even if it’s served on mismatched plates and is not taken from Rachael Ray’s greatest hits. Do not think for one minute that grasping the basic fundamentals of cooking is beyond your grasp. Do not think for one minute that what you see on TV or in the movies is in any way, shape or form, a reflection of most women’s normal reality. 

The reality of normal women’s lives is that we spend our lives on a budget. We budget our money, our calories, our time. How we choose to cook is a reflection of that. While occasionally we may cook a special meal or try something fancy, our every day menus contain simple foods like casseroles, chili, and pancakes.  And again, that’s OK. The fact that you cook simple, tasty and nutritious foods should not embarrass you. It should empower you! 

Thomas Wolfe once said “There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves”.  He didn’t specify how fancy that dinner needed to be.

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