It's time to cook!

Typically when it comes to dinner at home I lean more on the soup, cereal or anything I can easily warm up. Pasta was a possibility, but cooking was never really something I did. I live alone, so I’ve always figured ‘why should I go through all that trouble just for me when I’m perfectly okay with a bowl of cereal.’

The truth was I didn’t try, so I really didn’t know if I could cook or if I even liked it. I’ve always planned on one day taking a cooking class or trying a recipe. In my blog last month, I made a vow to say “Welcome to Someday.”  I embarked on a cooking adventure promising myself I would try one dish a week.  

My first task: a salmon and potato recipe I saw on Buzzfeed. It was exciting to challenge myself, and make a plan. But when that Saturday finally came I was nervous. I looked for a way out. It’s okay the day will be busy enough I could push it off to the next day. It’s too many ingredients I don’t need to waste money to go get it all. I’ve never used my oven before – what if it doesn’t heat up properly? The more excuses I came up with in my head the more agitated I became. I was battling my anxieties over my determination to complete my promise to myself.  I had to do it anyway.

I bought all of my ingredients. I placed my laptop on my kitchen counter so I could re-play the recipe video. I gathered my measuring spoons. Then I cut the potatoes and seasoned them exactly as shown with salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic. I mixed the sauce for the salmon – soy sauce, honey, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper at the exact amounts listed. I was so focused on completing each step just right. By the time it was done I was starving and forgot to take a photo of the end result. But it was delicious!

I impressed myself for sure, but boy was I exhausted. That was a heck of a lot of work. Most of my exhaustion though came from working my anxieties up all day. I had to keep going if I was really going to commit to cooking.

After skipping a weekend, my motivation stirred to cook another meal as soon as I could. I already had more salmon in my freezer that I needed to cook, so I looked up a different salmon recipe. This one was with lots of lemon, a little garlic, and a bit of parsley grilled on the stove. I warmed up two fillets. This time I was confident enough to add as much or as little of the ingredients as I felt best.

I made one for lunch that day, and another to take to work the next day. It was so good I savored every bite. The best part – at work a co-worker noticed my meal and asked me for the recipe. With pride I told her how I made my delicious lunch. That was a pretty cool feeling!

I had one more challenge to complete: a family recipe. How cool would it be if I could make my favorite family rice one that I look forward to at every celebration?

My mom agreed to help me make the Arroz con Gandulas. It’s a Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas. I can live off this rice.  

This one is a big deal with a ton of steps involved and a lot of ingredients. We didn’t even make it with every authentic step, but there was still plenty to do. For the other two meals I had read the directions prior to and was fairly familiar with the process before I started. This time I had no idea what I was doing. It was a bit overwhelming. Each step went quickly one after the other. I followed my mom’s instructions and tried to soak in as much of her cooking advice as possible along the way. Together, our rice was ready to go for our family barbecue that afternoon where it was loved by all. The compliments felt great. Of course, I don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle this one on my own yet, but at least I know a little bit more about it now. I just have to keep practicing.

Now I am pumped to keep going. I’m saving quick Facebook recipe videos, bookmarking recipes I find on Pinterest. I have most of my ingredients to try out these protein energy snack bites I saw online.

Will I cook every day now? Probably not, but I can officially say that I enjoy it. Let’s be honest as a single lady with no kids and a full-time job, I will still enjoy the ease of a bowl of cereal. But now I can revel in the pride of just knowing that I can cook if I wanted to. It’s a life goal accomplished, and a limitation struck down.

I got this!