Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cooking Lessons

Mom reminded me that I needed to do a post about learning to cook. I had forgotten I promised an explanation in a previous post regarding decisions.

I was the youngest of four. By the time I was old enough to really be a help to Mom in the kitchen, I was also able to help Dad. I preferred that anyway. So, I would show up for lunch, enjoy the bounty set before me, and head back out into the field, or whatever else was on the agenda for the day.

Now, I did know how to bake. I loved to bake. Still do, but alas, my thighs love baking also, so I limit it to special occasions. I think my ability to bake mislead Studmuffin going into our marriage. You see, I had a roommate who could cook. I mean, seriously cook. She had grown up in a single parent home, and she was often responsible for having dinner ready when her mom got home. Unless she herself was at work too, then I guess it was a collaborated effort. I always admired Sabra and her ability to do anything and everything.

But, we are talking about my lack of cooking skills.

One of the first things I cooked for my new husband was my mom's famous Mexican Casserole. Virtually impossible to screw up. Unless you use a can of chopped jalapeno peppers instead of green chiles. I mean, seriously, how different could it be?

Different enough to make it darn near inedible. Unless you're my brother David, of the cast iron stomach. He ate the whole 9x12 pan in one setting. I think Studmuffin was relieved, because even though I kept saying "Don't eat it, it's not worth it," he was sure this was some sort of secret new husband test that he was doomed to fail if he did not eat one of the first meals I prepared for him. I don't know, maybe he was right.

Oh, and I recently learned that no matter what you do, if you use a can of Bush's Grillin' Beans in your chili, it's ruined. I wish I could pretend this was a mistake of years gone by, but it's more like last winter gone by. It was awful. Truly awful. I had to pitch the whole batch. I'm shuddering just remembering.

So, basically, we lived off of hamburger helper, spaghetti, and CiCi's Pizza. They sold a large one topping pizza for $4.99. We would call in the carry out order, and if we arrived before it was ready, we got free drinks. Obviously, we frequently arrived early.

Studmuffin also had to learn to subsist on very little meat in the early years of our marriage. I did not like meat at that time. Especially not red meat. I lived on pasta, bread and produce. And of course chocolate and chips and salsa.

However, as many of you know, when I became pregnant with Bookworm, I had hyperemises gravidum. Simply put, I threw up around the clock for 40 weeks straight, through delivery, and really doubted it would ever stop. I seriously vomited nonstop through the entire labor until she popped out, and it stopped. It was almost like magic. So, during that pregnancy I learned to love meat. Meat of all kinds. Gimme meat and more meat. I learned that one bite of uncooked fruit or vegetable could set me into a vomiting fit that did not stop for days. It was awful.

So, after Bookworm was born my mom got me a subscription to Quick Cooking magazine. This literally transformed our lives. I started planning menus, where I tried at least one new recipe every week. That truly has to be the best gift I've ever received, because I've used those recipes and the skills I learned through trying new mixtures of ingredients nearly every day since.

So, I will now share a little bit of my skills with you today. It's simple, quick and nutritious, which is the 3 main qualifications for most things I cook. And, I have no idea why the photos are sideways, but I'm too lazy to go back and re-upload them.

The first thing you do is bum some fresh squash off of the lovely couple down the street. Apparently, you did not get around to planting your squash early, and you still don't have any fresh for yourself. But, as Grandma Irene once told me, "Never leave your windows down in the summer. Someone is likely to leave squash in it." So, really, I'm doing my neighbors a service by taking some squash off of their hands.


Squash, sliced
Onion, halved and sliced (I used maybe 1/4 of a large onion)
Fresh Parsley, chopped
Diced tomato
Garlic salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Drizzle about 2 tbsp of oil over the whole thing.

Place ingredients in a microwave safe casserole dish with lid over it. Cook in microwave until tender. Time varies based on quantity of each ingredient used.

Another variation is to slice 3/4 tablespoons of butter over the whole shebang and sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. However, we're going low cholesterol in this house, so we aren't enjoying that variation around here! Now, go bum some squash and enjoy!

No comments: