I used to love to cook. But that was a long time ago when I was a young wife and mom, and it seemed like fun to invest hours and hours into creating meals and snacks for my family. I baked bread, back in the day when “all natural” and “whole grain” and “honest everything” and “bare naked” food wasn’t cool yet. We lived in a tiny town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where there was a farmer’s market once a week. I would bake several loaves of bread that must have weighted a ton because I put all kinds of fun stuff into that bread. I would sometimes include sunflower seeds, raisins, nuts, fresh fruit, wheat germ, granola, bananas, and anything else that sounded good on any given baking day.
I would bake up all those loaves of fresh bread and package them in plastic bags, tied up with a ribbon, and off we would go to the weekly farmer’s market. One of the other fun things we did back then was press the wild flowers that grew behind our house and put them on pretty cards and stationery that I also sold at our little farmer’s market. We made book marks, and place mats, and greeting cards with our pressed flowers. I seem to recall that one time I had a request for wedding place cards for someone’s reception – but I don’t remember for sure exactly what the occasion was, but I do remember thinking how fun it was to be making something that somebody was actually going to use!
But about cooking . . . I actually never learned how to make a good pie crust, so I just gave up on that kind of recipe, but I certainly was pretty good at cooking other stuff. Besides bread, that is. My style of cooking, however, was rather unorthodox I suppose because of the way I grew up. We pretty much just had to use whatever we had on hand so lots of innovation and experimentation happened, which sometimes turned out great and other times not so much. So I never really learned how to cook from a recipe – it was beyond me how I could ever justify going to the store to buy $25.00 worth of groceries to make one meal. You know, all those things listed in recipes aren’t always the kinds of stuff ordinary folks keep in their cupboards. So I cooked with whatever I could find in my pantry.
Even though I rarely used a recipe, I still collected recipes and cook books for many years. I think it made me feel virtuous, knowing that I was prepared, just in case I had to actually cook something particular. Over the years, however, I’ve realized that I don’t actually like to spend all that time, make all that mess, invest all that money, and then clean up all the dirty dishes that are part of . . . cooking. As it turns out, it is not the actual function of cooking that I dislike, but it is the time and energy that it takes – and then after hours of cooking, it takes about six minutes for it to be devoured often without so much as a “please” and “thank you” from an adoring family.
Image found at www.apronmemories.com
Don’t get me wrong – my family is truly grateful WHEN I cook because I don’t do it very often any more. In our home, our Daddy is The Cook. He loves to try different spices and marinades, sauces and dressings, combinations of all kinds of stuff that would never, ever, ever in a million years occur to me. Just eat it, and let’s move on to the next event, is my philosophy of food these days. But since he LOVES to cook, well, we are more than happy to let him do that. So we might have Mystery Macaroni one night and then the next night we might have a full-blown Chinese meal complete with a sizzling wok steaming in the kitchen sink (waiting to be washed by someone). So in the end it all works out around here, but my girls know that asking mom, “What’s for dinner?” will probably elicit a blank stare until I finally shift mental gears enough to be able to answer . . . “I don’t know – how about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?” To which they roll their eyes because that is the same answer they get every time they ask, and eventually we will come up with something. Not always peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, either.
So the other day I was feeling just a tiny bit guilty about neglecting my virtuous wifely / motherly duty of feeding my family, and I came across some recipes that looked – ummmmm – easy. I hope they are good, too, but the main criteria was that they could be made very easily, quickly, and inexpensively. None of this Grilled Artichoke and Steamed Clams with Pineapple Yakitori (whatever that is – it definitely is not something that I have in my pantry today) or other such exotic dishes. Then I got inspired and really pursued my journey back to womanly virtue and I made a Pinterest board for all the amazing recipes I was finding.
I entitled my Pinterest board “If I ever cook again . . . ” – that seemed like a good place to start, that way, just in case I ever feel obligated to cook again, I will at least have a couple of ideas already going on. Not too many, though, and certainly nothing too complicated. But in the end, I always say (especially if you are on a really frugal budget), “You won’t die if you have to eat Cheerios for supper!” So in place of my Wonder Woman cape (which I sent to the thrift store several years ago), I have reserved my favorite gingham apron for the next time (if ever) I decide to cook again. Won’t I look virtuous in my pretty little apron?
In case you, too, are interested in finding a few recipes that you can whip ps without investing too much time, money, or energy, here are a few to get you started. And you can always visit my Pinterest board, too, in your spare time when you don’t have anything else to do: https://www.pinterest.com/vintagemamashop/if-i-ever-cook-again/ All of the recipes below can be found on the Delish website at http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g2801/summer-dinner-recipes/?slide=1 and all images are property of the Delish website and contributing authors.
(I probably won’t include avocado if I ever make this one, but the rest of it sounds pretty easy and yummy)
(This looks kind of like something I actually did make the other night when I had spaghetti noodles but no ground beef, a couple of cooked chicken breasts, and melted cheese. Close enough!)
(Even I might be able to pull this one off!)
(I think I can, I think I can . . . . )
(Only one pan to wash? Works for me!)
(This one is my favorite so far!)
If you have any amazing ideas for super simple and inexpensive recipes that my family will like and I will actually cook, please share them with me. It might be a while before I go looking again!