Growing up, I had no interest in cooking. My mom would make us home-made meals, and I of course loved them (except weirdly, I was not into Chicken Pot Pie at the time) but I had no interest in how she was making them. I feel bad for not appreciating them as much as I should have. I am trying to make up for it! Now and then she would call me or my brothers into the kitchen to husk corn, or when we were older, chop carrots or peppers or something, but other than that we weren't really a part of it.
In college, I learned how to do the basics of cooking, like making scrambled eggs, or making a pizza out of flour tortillas, but it wasn't something I enjoyed. It was just a necessity because it was cheaper than having a meal plan, or eating out.
And then 6 years as a New Yorker, I still hadn't gotten into cooking... Though it would save me money, I simply did not typically have the time to spend in the kitchen. And as a novice, everything takes a much longer time, as I don't know my way around a kitchen, or how to use a "lemon zester". I was truly a Carrie Bradshaw when it comes to cooking... storing non-seasonal clothes in the oven and ordering Thai food every day. (for everything else, I'm whatever is between Miranda and Charlotte).
Well, on January 2nd this year, I started Whole30 for a variety of reasons: detoxing from my sinful holiday eating, eliminating various foods to see if I feel better without them, and just to try it! Doing Whole30 pretty much requires you to learn how to cook, unless you just want to eat scrambled eggs with salt every single day. One of my new years resolutions is to have purpose and intention with everything I do, and commit, so it's easy to see how to apply this to Whole30!
I decided to try a paleo chili. I've made chili before: you just throw a ton of stuff in a pot and cook it for 40 minutes, and it's great. I followed a strict recipe on some lady's food blog, and meticulously executed every instruction. It took me 3 hours, and it was tedious. I had Netflix's show "Big Mouth" on in the background to entertain me.
The paleo chili was honestly... amazing... BUT I can't be spending 3 hours everytime I wanna make something! I knew I would get faster the more I learned my way around, but it was just so daunting.
Next I made a lemon chicken/asparagus dish. The blog said 30 minutes, and it took me 2 hours. There were very few crossover instructions between the paleo chili and the chicken/asparagus. Ok, so now I've surely covered all the different types of cooking instructions...?
The chicken/asparagus and the paleo chili both lasted me about a week... so I was almost due to make another pot of something... I found a Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe. I love Moroccan food and I love stew...and chicken... ok I'll try this. I had to spend a fortune on getting an assortment of non-western spices, but I figured it was an investment. The ingredients sat in my fridge for a few days as I kept procrastinating.
Finally, I knew it was the day. My chili was officially gone. I knew it would take me forever-and-a-half, so I got up 3 hours earlier than I normally do. The first thing I do every morning is meditate, so upon waking up, I meditated and asked for advice on how to get through this... I pulled a card from my Gabby Bernstien "The Universe Has Your Back" deck, and it said "The Universe works fast when I'm having fun."
"the universe works fast when I'm having fun..." I contemplated that... What if I just decided that cooking was fun? Would that work? Could I just make that decision? What would make it fun? Also, how can I cook with purpose, intention, and commit to it?
1. instead of having a tv show on in the background, I just turned on some music I love. (mid-career Michael Brecker!). This allowed me to bop around, but not be focused on people talking, or following a story
2. Really think about each ingredient I am preparing. Like while cutting an onion.. Ok, this onion is going to provide lots of juices and flavor to the meat in the stew, and its going to be a great source of Vitamin C and chromium! These dates are going to be such a sweet surprise in every spoonful. (i know how corny this sounds... but it worked!)
3. Just deciding to not be glum. I had a slight smile on my face and was just thinking about how I'm learning, I'm making something for myself, it's healthy, etc.. just all the positive things about the experience. I thought about everything I can be grateful for as I made it too.. grateful to have a working stove, to be able to afford the ingredients, to have the morning off so I can cook, to have made it 9 days into Whole30 without cheating!
This made the process FLY by. The blog said the recipe would take 1 hour. It took me about 1.5 hours, but it was so fun, I learned a lot, and stew is INCREDIBLE. It will probably last me 4-5 days. I'm now excited to try something new. Cooking is...okay! :)
choose to have fun!