This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deals with the Devil

I've been bitching about our antique oven for the six years we've had our house. I'm reasonably certain it isn't just made to "look" 60 years old, I'm pretty sure it actually is 60 years old.

Exhibit A

Adorable, right? Yeah, except when you set it for a certain temperature, it likes to randomly get between 25 - 50 degrees hotter than it's supposed to. Problematic. (Also, I like modern, not country antique. I rather hate those cabinets too.)

I've been advocating for a new oven for awhile now, and even better, I want a double oven. Husband scoffs at the double oven idea, even though he's the one who cooks more often. He claims the only time we'll ever use both ovens is Thanksgiving. I told him we'd use it every time we entertain, which should be more often. Anyway, like most things technology-related, Husband scoffs at it until he finally breaks down and gets it and then he's all, oh my god, how did we ever live without this?! i.e. digital camera, his Passat (which is now overdue for a trade-in), laptops, phones with text-messaging, phones with the interwebs, the DVR, etc.

So, I made a deal with the devil. (The devil being the Husband, of course.) The deal is that I will cook 5 days out of the week, for 52 weeks. If I manage that before next Christmas, he will suck it up and remodel the kitchen to put in a double oven. We are even executing a written contract to this effect, including exclusions, exceptions and stipulations. I told him he can have his attorney look it over before he signs. (Heh.)

The only problem? I don't cook.

Okay, so I *can* cook, but I just don't like to. I can do basic stuff. It's just that if it requires more than a few minutes of prep time or has more than 3 ingredients, I lose interest. Seriously. Most of the things I make have very few ingredients and take about 15 minutes to make. I could start a cooking show. "Three ingredient meals for the undomesticated professional." I imagine it would be something like Bitchin' Kitchen, but I'm an Italian-American with a slight southern twang not an Italian-Canadian with a... what exactly is that accent anyway? And there would be more setting things on fire than actual cooking. And my shoes are much hawter.

Anyway, since Husband works three nights a week, dinner also has to be packed up to take with him.

So, here we are so far:

Steak with mushrooms, green beans and mashed potatoes

Green smoothie

The steak (and I couldn't begin to tell you what sort of cut of meat this was, I'm just reasonably certain it's dead cooked cow and it was on sale) was pan fried in a little bit of olive oil, along with salt and pepper for seasoning. In a separate pan, the mushrooms were fried in some olive oil and a package of mushroom gravy mix and water was added after the mushrooms were cooked. A bag of green beans was microwaved and I made the potatoes by scratch (peeling and boiling them). I only added milk to the mashed potatoes, no butter, which made them less cholesterol-hiking but much more bland. The steak was fantastic, the green beans were green beans, and the potatoes would have been really good with butter. Next time I'll suck it up and use butter.

The green smoothie consisted of bananas, pineapple, prune juice and spinach. It was quite tasty. The green smoothies are blended and are a tasty way of getting in more leafy greens.

Spaghetti alla mia, and green smoothie

This spaghetti is my heart-healthy version of Husband's spaghetti. First, I use higher-fiber spaghetti that tastes quite good. It's Ronzoni Smart Taste, and it has 7g of fiber per serving. I chop (I guess it's chop, I dunno. Could be mince for all the hell I know.) green pepper, onion and garlic (garlic is probably minced, I guess). I saute (ooh, there's a proper cooking term) it in olive oil, and add some oregano and some other spice out of the cabinet that might sound good (this time it was tarragon). Then I set it aside and cook some ground turkey breast. Drain it, then put it back together with the veggies, a jar of Ragu (whatever is on sale, this time it was Mushroom and Green Pepper), and add a can of black olives. Once the black olives are softened, throw it all together with the spaghetti.

The green smoothie was pears, peaches, prune juice and romaine lettuce.

Cora, Vee and I had dinner plans at a friend's house, however, so only Husband and our House Elf enjoyed the spaghetti. I tried a few bites and was pleased with the result. And it had like five ingredients, so I felt pretty adventurous on this one. Although the meal at our friends' house was much more tasty. And they'd made empanadas, which were fabulous. (From a Paula Deen recipe.)

So, two meals down, three more to go this week. I think pork chops with broccoli and brown rice are on the menu for tonight. Then maybe tacos tomorrow. We're going to very quickly run out of things that I can make without a recipe, and then I'll have to start going through and finding recipes. The other thing is too, that I need to make heart-healthy recipes. So, like, Alton Brown's meatloaf and Paula Deen's quiche are probably not going to cut it, which is unfortunate, since those are two of my favorite recipes. I also need to slowly wean myself from using meat as the centerpiece of the meal, and get more adventurous with seafood and my old standby of tofu (which I stopped cooking with because Husband wasn't a big fan).

Anyway, suggestions of heart-healthy, 3-ingredient meals are welcome. I'm also going to try using a crock pot for the first time. Definitely adventurous. But it will take a lot of planning since, three nights a week, dinner has to be ready and packed up before 6:30. And it's harder to cook with Vee, considering she also wants her dinner between 5 and 6, and I usually pick up Cora from daycare at 5:30. Not to mention, our favorite pasttime is eating out, so we won't be eliminating that all together. So, if I prepare a meal for breakfast or lunch that day, it will also count.

I figure I will continue to document what I make, when I make it, and how it turned out, so that I can slowly improve, and maybe actually learn to like it. Doubt it. But I like a challenge, and I definitely like making Husband buy me things, and we need to start controlling what we eat to lower our cholesterol (not to mention my weight is creeping up again now that I'm not pregnant), so it's a win-win. Except for the whole me having to cook thing. Ugh.


Andrea said...

I'd recommend a book called "The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet." It's really not even five because she counts stuff like olive oil, salad dressing, and bottled sauces as ingredients too. It's perfect for those of us who are just lazy, not "foodies," and just need to feed ourselves, dammit. Then you could still throw lean meat or chicken into a bunch of the recipes and have lots of ideas.

Laurie said...

I love the Epicurious app on the iphone (or epicurious.com) there is also a Whole Foods app that has some good, healthy recipes on it.

CP said...

5 days a week?! Are you sure! Ahhh, that seems crazy to me and I like to cook. Does that mean no leftovers for dinner? Good luck though, I'm rooting for you. That oven would scare me. Cooking light has some fabulous 5 ingredient meals. Maybe check out their website? I love that you two drafted a real contract- so funny!

But I Do Have a Law Degree said...

I discovered the crock pot a few weeks ago and it has changed my life (kind of). It's so easy! Last week I made pulled pork - just get a pork chop, chopped onions, and BBQ sauce and stick it in the crock pot on low for 7-9 hours. You can "pull" it apart with a fork and then remix it when it's done, and voila, dinner! Makes a lot of leftovers too. If you are going to be cooking 5 days a week, leftovers should definitely count towards one of those meals!

GemEnigma said...

I can't help but relate to so many things here...namely, the 40 year-old stove/oven kitchen setup. I have to email you a pic to show you that you are not alone. I actually shed a tear knowing that someone else out there shares my pain in wanting a sexy kitchen. Doubtful I could make a similar deal though. Hubs would laugh at me in skepticism.

I've become great friends with the allrecipes.com app on Hubs' ipad. And ditto to the crockpot comment. It's a life-changer. Seriously.

Michael said...

Re. the oven, they don't make 'em like that any more! :-)