Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cooking in an Empty Nest



When I am at loose ends, I like to cook.  It relaxes me.

And as a newly retired, "empty nester," I am often at loose ends!

I love reading cookbooks and collecting recipes.  I have a little folder of all of the recipes I have cut out of magazines or printed off the Internet that I want to try, and I probably have over 100 cookbooks.

I even made myself my own cookbook. 
You might try this.  Find a big photo album, one of those with the plastic page covers and instead of putting in photos, add your favorite recipes that you have cut out of magazines or written on cards.  Voila!  Your very own cookbook of favorite recipes.

I am also the "Casserole Queen."  I just love making casseroles. 
Who knew?  I am not sure where that came from since I hated casseroles as a child.  When my mother would make a casserole, if my mother couldn't tell me every single thing in it, I would not eat it.  Sometimes she would try to fool me and not tell me about an ingredient I wouldn't like, but it didn't take me long to sniff it out.  I was a real "fussbudget" as my mother used to call me.  Now I love making and eating casseroles, but the issue with casseroles is that they usually feed 12, which is not a good thing when you are cooking for two.



So the big problem with my need to cook is...when I cook, I REALLY cook!  Like four or five or six dishes at time!

So my weekly routine usually includes my cooking several new recipes from that folder I keep.  I want to see what they taste like!  But then I make the recipe, taste it and move on.  Steam comes out of Hubby's ears and he goes mental when he sees all of the food I have prepared, especially when we can't fit all of the leftovers in the fridge.

"Who is going to eat all of this?" he will shout.

I slink off to the upstairs to watch some cooking shows.

***

There is also the issue of gathering all of the ingredients needed to try these new recipes.  I like to have everything I need on hand at all times, so whenever I find a new recipe, I automatically add the ingredients to my grocery list, even if I am not going to make that recipe in the near future. A friend once housesat for us and later asked me if I was a Mormon, because of all of the food we had stockpiled.  I said, "No, I just like to cook."

I can rationalize that if I spend a few hours cooking on the weekend and make several dishes, then I don't have to cook during the week when I don't want to.  Hubby can find something to eat on his own when he wants some lunch instead of bothering me while I'm getting caught up with "The Housewives" or doing some other important task.
So I know that what I am doing is not a particularly thrifty, healthy or smart thing to do since it's just the two of us.

And it doesn't help in the never-ending quest to lose weight to have all of this food on hand!


***


So what's a budding chef to do with the kids grown and a need to only cook for two?


Here are some ideas I have come up with:

  • Though I think it's a good idea to spend some time on the weekends cooking so that Hubby and I will have leftovers to eat during the week (and I will only have to cook when I want to), if the dish will not be consumed in one sitting, limit myself to one or two of those larger dishes per week.

  • When making a large dish, freeze half of it.

  • Probably should stay away from Costco.

  • Cut the recipe in half

  • Buy a cookbook aimed at cooking for two (just what I need, another cookbook!)

  • Or just forget about it and go out to eat instead


Any other advice?




In the meantime, here are some new cookbooks I have discovered recently and some recipes I plan to try (some habits die hard):



One Good Dish by David Tanis




Written by a New York Times food columnist, this cookbook deconstructs comfort food and elevates it to a gourmet level. 

From "Eggs in a Hole" to "Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs and Pepper," this is the kind of cookbook you will enjoy reading as much as preparing the recipes.  In his "Snacks" chapter, he shares a recipe for "Cucumber Spears with Dill," just small cucumbers, salt and pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, white wine vinegar, fresh dill and lime juice. Nice snack for those who shun carbs.

TIP:  Speaking of carbs, he recommended using a waffle iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  Why didn't I think of that?



Michael Symon's 5 in 5 by Michael Symon





Symons is one of the co-hosts of "The Chew," a cooking show I actually don't like.  It's a bit too frenetic and cutesy for me.  I am much more of a "Top Chef" kind of girl.  I like food competitions better than just watching someone prepare food.

Anyway, this is a fun and easy cookbook in that each recipe only uses five ingredients.

He shows you how to use those five ingredients to make several different recipes, all in just five minutes.  He covers pasta, meat skewers, sandwiches, steaming food in packets, egg dishes, grilling and more.  One recipe that caught my eye was "Pappardelle with Mushroom Cream Sauce."  It's just pappardelle pasta, olive oil, mushrooms, red onions, sour cream and fresh tarragon (I know that's more than five ingredients.  Herbs must not count).  Love pappardelle pasta, love mushrooms, not so sure about the cream sauce. 




What's for Dinner? Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life by Curtis Stone




I am usually not a fan of the celebrity chefs (Except for Tony and Gordon), but this is the first cookbook I have come across in a long time where I want to cook every recipe...so I bought it!

He includes recipes for every day of the week and has divided the cookbook into chapters: Motivating Mondays, Time-Saving Tuesdays, One-Pot Wednesdays, Thrifty Thursdays, Five-Ingredient Fridays, Dinner Party Saturdays and Family Supper Sundays.

It's a beautifully produced book, with wonderful photos of the food (a must!)

Here is a taste:

Grilled Shrimp with Rice Noodle Salad
Seared Ham Steak and Eggs with Smashed Potatoes and Sourdough Toast
Slow-Cooked Pulled Port Sandwiches with "Fireworks" Coleslaw
Banana Cream Parfait with Gingersnap Strusel

Yum!

So I like to cook, I like to eat, I want to lose weight.

I'm doomed.

See you Friday for
"Our Mothers and the Movies"
and The Week in Reviews
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Check your local library for the books mentioned.





No comments :

Post a Comment