Saturday, November 21, 2009

Haute Cuisine

My theories of what is “cooking” vary with time. Depending upon what is going on (or not) in my life, my idea of cooking swings between “a minimum of three ingredients plus seasonings” to “requires electricity.” It's a crazy wavering alternation of meals worthy of a magazine feature and toaster pastries or microwave-cooked popcorn or leftovers.

When I first moved into my house and lived alone, there was a great amount of cooking happening in my remodeled kitchen with a center island – a radical departure from my occasional philosophy of “it’s too much trouble to cook for one person.” It was a household rich with homemade spaghetti sauce, my own versions of Thai, Indian and Korean, homemade soup simmering on Sunday afternoons, pork tenderloin roast, and tasty conglomerations from odd leftovers, never-to-be-repeated due to the unlikelihood of the ingredients being present again. One evening meal could yield lunches for the rest of the week.

When Boyfriend moved in, my cooking shifted a step or so in an attempt to first decipher and then accommodate his sometimes picky (and fickle) palate. He protests against mushrooms in stroganoff sauce and sneers at them on pizza. He’ll dissect and scrutinize a sausage to make sure it is thoroughly cooked (geez, does he think I’m trying to sicken him?). He turned his nose up at my favorite black olive and pineapple pizza, but trust me, when he’s hungry, everything is fair game no matter what it is or how much it was criticized a few hours ago.

Boyfriend has recently been on the no carbs diet – heavy on steak, chicken, veggies and salad, so he’s been grocery shopping and cooking more – and it’s been meat, meat and more meat for breakfast, lunch and supper. Generally, the less meat I eat, the better I feel, a position firmly reinforced last weekend when he we ate lots of meat and I felt like I had bricks in my stomach for three days. Friend Stacy says I need to accept that I am a vegetarian and move on, but I’m just not that dedicated to the work that seems to be required.

Lately, I’ve not been in the mood to cook, so on the nights when Boyfriend is at work it’s been “dinners” of art reception snacks. Kitchen grazing on tortilla chips or potato chips (Tuesday, I lived it up and had both), the occasional cooked meal of my beloved cheesy ramen (Thursday night). Friday night it was cheese fries, pretzels, chips and beer cheese dip, washed down with stout at the local brewery for friend Heather’s birthday. Fortunately for my nutritional requirements, my lunches are more substantial – sushi with Amy, veggie subs from Subway, and microwavable box lunches bearing words like “healthy” and “lean.”

When winter hits, I’ll be back in the kitchen. There’ll be soup on the stovetop again. I love to use the oven – it heats the kitchen, and the smell of casseroles, fruit crisp or cookies is comforting and “homey.” I’m looking forward to it, especially on the weekends when Junior is around. He’s five, the perfect age when “helping” is exciting, and if the grownups say so, everything is fun. We may start with dinner tonight – sliced steak with Korean pepper paste, sesame oil and whatever else we find in the recently-stocked-by- Boyfriend refrigerator.

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