From Panic to Pride – My Slow Shift in the Kitchen

Vegetables - My New Kitchen Staple

Go figure, I actually like vegetables.

I’ve been scolded in the kitchen. I’ve cried in the kitchen. I’ve been labeled the “little salad maker” (and not in a complimentary way). The whole cooking thing for me is an emotional issue. My being a bad cook has become part of my identity, which actually is fairly sad.

My recent interest in wanting to learn how to cook has really been about an overall wellness path. (And let’s not forget the wake up call when my son called and asked, “Can I Order a Pizza and Put it on Your Tab?” Preparing healthy, tasty food is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Some of it is vanity (I’d like to shed a couple of pounds). Some of it is that I really enjoy fresh and interesting dishes. I’m also completely bored of eating out and paying restaurant prices for food that doesn’t help me stay lean.

In addition to the health piece, the other big motivation comes from panic because my son will be leaving in a year, and I haven’t taught him well about food.

Enter My Social Media Community

What started as snarky little comments about food, cooking, and my lack of skills on Facebook and Twitter, has resulted into a wealth of support and information from my social media community. In the last few months, I’ve embarked on several daring (relative term of course) kitchen experiments, gotten immediate support when something is on the grill, received help identifying a mystery herb, and guidance on various kitchen gadgets. (Remember, everything is an experiment for me because I am THAT inexperienced.)

What I’ve Learned

  1. Nuts make everything better – pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans – they’re crunchy and flavorful and they make me feel like a gourmet.
  2. Ditto for cheese – goat, Parmesan, feta, ricotta – just a sprinkle or dab and VOILA! I now own a little grater and grated my first hunk of Parmesan this summer sans injuries to my knuckles.
  3. Even when I’m dead tired during the week, it doesn’t take that long to throw a couple of chicken breasts into a pan with some peppers, onions, and tomatoes, then finish with basil, squash, and of course, nuts & cheese. For me, energy (or lack of it) is a real barrier. So it’s critical to have key ingredients handy – onions, garlic, lemons, red peppers, tomatoes, chicken, spinach, balsamic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, fresh herbs, broth, and veggies.
  4. I love caramelized onions – even though some would call me a cheater (I add a smidge of sugar and balsamic) – I don’t care, because I used a pan, a knife, and 4 ingredients.
  5. I am not a bad cook – I’m just inexperienced, uneducated and untrained. There is a BIG difference.

I’m still essentially an assembler. But I’m using knives, pans, grills, pizza stones, and my new chopper thingie – so I’m pretty sure I’m cooking too. I’ll catch up soon with my cooking/assembling posts.

In the meantime, do you have any tips? I really appreciate having everyone’s support!

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  1. Yes, you are only inexperienced. Most people CAN learn in the kitchen while a little practice. Good for you for not scraping your knuckles on the mini-grater!

    Having key ingredients on hand is a huge time & sanity saver. Also having your key utensils & cook ware within arm’s reach. I have a tool caddy right next to the stove so I don’t have to step away from the stove.

    Keep up the good cooking!

    • Thanks Heather! Seriously, not grating my knuckles was huge LOL And having the right food around is key. I actually ran out of olive oil and thought, “Huh? I used that big bottle already?” Shocking I know… But for me, it wasn’t that long ago that I NEVER fixed food that req’d olive oil. Ha! Thanks so much for stopping by Heather!

  2. Aaron says:

    I have always enjoyed cooking and grilling, my challenge this past year has been learning how to do it in a healthier way. I’m so glad you’re beginning to enjoy cooking. It’s a ton of fun, especially when it turns out well.

    • Ah thanks! What are your tricks to doing it healthier? I’ve been discovering herbs… just a few… but they make me feel like a gourmet LOL. Would love to know some of your favorites – thanks so much for stopping by!

      • Aaron says:

        My current favorite comes from a thin kitchen recipe book distributed by beachbody. It’s actually suppose to be a appetizer but we usually serve it with sauteed green beans and it works well as a main dish. It’s called Cerveza-Marinated Chicken Skewers. Shoot me an email if you want the full recipe, it’s really good.


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