Cooking Tips from a Challenged Cook

Don’t misunderstand.  I can cook, but I just really don’t want to be bothered with it.  They made microwaves and frozen meals for people like me.

Even so, I have learned some fairly simple ways to eat quickly with minimal effort.

1)  You can bump up the flavor of a jar of spaghetti sauce (I use Prego, but whichever you like), by adding a can of marinara sauce to it.  Only downside is that you then have a LOT of sauce.  If you have a family, or friends invited over, it’s not a problem.  If it is just you and one other person, you’ll be eating a lot of spaghetti.  I also use frozen meatballs to add to this.  I read somewhere that it was better not to mix the spaghetti and sauce together, so I store them separately and just add the sauce on top when I heat it in the microwave.  I store the meatballs in the sauce.

2)  Pork tenderloin.  Not the cheapest thing out there, but easy to fix.  I usually watch for sales and can get it for $3.50 or less/pound.  There are a lot of fancy ways to fix these, but I just rub it all over with seasoned meat tenderizer (more for the flavor than the tenderizing part) and stick it in the oven.  Then I can eat several meals, just changing what I eat with it (vegetables, salad, etc.).

3)  This one is more work-intensive upfront.  Fix taco meat according to the package instructions on the taco seasoning (usually it calls for 1 lb. of meat – I’ve used either ground beef or ground turkey).  Meanwhile, heat up some beans (I prefer black beans).  Shred some cheese (or you could buy it pre-shredded if you want, though that is usually more expensive).  Use burrito-size tortillas.  When the meat is done and the beans are hot, I zap the tortilla with cheese on it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds – just enough to take the chill off it and slightly melt the cheese.  Then add a dollop of meat, a dollop of beans and wrap into a burrito.  Afterwards, I tend to mix the meat and beans together (drain the beans) and store in the fridge.  That way, for subsequent meals, I just take out enough for a single burrito, heat it in the microwave and put it on the tortilla/cheese.  Usually I’ve shredded enough cheese initially to last through all the burritos.  So some work upfront, but then fairly simple after that.  I’m a minimalist so that’s all I put in my burritos, but you could add whatever else suits you.  I don’t care for quacamole or salsa, but I know many do.

And there’s a good start for you.  The only thing easier is if you can get someone else to do the cooking…

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I May Look Like a Grown-up…

but I can’t fathom why anyone allows me near a kitchen.  Whether actual innate clumsiness or simple carelessness, small disasters tend to occur when I become culinary bent.

I don’t even have to turn on the stove, either.

Years ago, I worked such that I put in a few hours in the morning, had several hours off midday, and then went back for an hour or so in late afternoon.  While home midday, I was fixing lunch – dishing some cottage cheese into a bowl.  Bowl in left hand.  Spoon in right hand.  Watch on left wrist.  Then I remembered there was something on TV that I meant to watch so I checked my watch to see what time it was.  Yup.  Entire bowl of cottage cheese now on the floor at my feet.  You think that stuff only happens on TV or in the movies, but no, I can attest to it really happening.  Likely such things on TV or in a movie are based on a real-life event.

Not convinced yet?

I decided to boil some eggs in order to make egg salad.  I put them on to boil and went in the other room, where I became involved in doing something else.  Some time later, I hear a strange periodic pinging sound.  It went on long enough that I wondered what the neighbors were doing down on the patio of our apartment complex, and got up to go see.  No one was outside.  But while looking out the window, I remembered the eggs and thought I should go check on them.  I found the pinging sound.  Eggs that are boiled dry explode.  Egg all over the kitchen – walls and ceiling and floor.

My roommate happened to be housesitting for someone at the time and so was not home, but we worked at the same place.  The next day I went into the office, and stood in front of her desk.  She looked up questioningly and I told her, “There are some things a girl’s mother should tell her.  But, failing that, her older but wiser roommate should tell her.”

Without missing a beat, she asked, “What have you done to my kitchen?”  Sadly, my reputation preceded me.

Fast forward to today.  Decided to make some jello.  What’s hard about jello, right?  Jello packet contents in a bowl, pour in hot water and stir, then stir in some cold water and refrigerate.  Two “ingredients”.  Easy.  Unless you’re me.  In which case, while stirring to dissovle the gelatin in hot water, I attempted to put a potholder under the bowl – and then manage to slosh it on my hand, the counter, the microwave (sitting on the counter nearby) and on the potholder.  Sigh.

Yes, you do have permission to physically restrain me if I’m ever at your house and trying to enter your kitchen.  Best not to tempt fate!