Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Culinary Adventures! (Or: Reasons Why I Smell Like Butter)

Long time no see, huh! Full disclosure: I haven't been in fighting shape these past few days/weeks. Don't mean to be neglect this place and whatnot -- it's just so darn hard to focus when your body may or may not be killing you from the inside out. 

Anyway! Here I am, here we are, let's dive right into the fun. Allow me to boast a photo. This photo:
You, my friend, are looking at mofo-ing homemade butternut squash mac n' cheese! With a breadcrumb crust. And crispy sage. (An herb with which I'd never had contact until last night.) (It smells like a spa.)

The kicker? I made this! Me? Her? What? YES!

Allow me to momentarily backtrack. In an effort to discover my inner domestic goddess and/or prove I can follow simple recipes and/or ensure I learn some basic fucking cooking skills so I won't starve to death if ever Chez Claudette went out of business... um... for a combination of these reasons, I've been (ever so gently) pushing myself to get the gas oven blazing and whip up some grub. Until now, I've made tacos (outcome: good) and fettucine alfredo (outcome: depressing). 

Then, yesterday afternoon, this doozy of a recipe from Blue Apron snuck into my inbox. Did I stand a chance against all those images of ooey gooey cheesy goodness? And pasta, no less? Of course not. PLUS, considering my batting average in the kitchen from last week, I figured there was only a 50/50 chance I'd mess the recipe up. Sold!

I could go into details about the actual process of putting together this shebang of a dish, but frankly, I don't have the patience. But I can tell you this:
  • Post-work, on-the-walk-home grocery shopping is fun! Until your cart gets full and you realize you'll have the schlep all that crap home by yourself (not so fun).
  • Cooking has a lot of steps. And requires focus & multitasking. Meaning you shouldn't be watching Modern Family reruns while cooking squash in one pot & frying sage leaves in another because you will probably burn the butter -- which the recipe specifically warns you against.
  • You will smell like butter always.
Fast-forward to the end result: Delicious! (Even J-Dog will vouch for me.) But, if I'm being honest, there's an altogether different reason I was compelled to share this story -- one that has less to do with being some kinda chef, and more to do with setting a (small) goal for yourself, making a quasi-careful plan of attack, and then carrying it out. For a champion procrastinator like myself, this is a big deal. It's embarrassing to admit that I don't often find myself at the finish line of many tough (for me) projects -- at least, not as often as I'd like to be. Maybe it's an age thing, or a post-grad/working full-time thing, but it can be all too easy to make excuses for not pushing yourself, or trying your hand at something new, or shutting off Netflix and getting your butt outside.
OK. Bear with me. I'm almost done speaking my preachy peace.

Lately, I have made it a mission of sorts to prepare dinner -- not just the old standbys, but something new -- at least once a week. While cooking itself is by no means instinctual for me (read: I fucking loathe doing it), I find myself truly enjoying this new ritual. Pick a recipe. Plot the ingredients. Stop at grocery store on way home from work. (Don't only buy rice pudding.) Get home & make some food, step-by-step. Set the table. EAT (and DRINK if you're lucky)!

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