January 7, 2015

How to Learn to Love Cooking

Every year, I resolve NOT to make any New Year's Resolutions, (since I never keep them), and yet every year, I inevitably make them anyway. This year, I have two main resolutions: 1) Learn to love cooking and 2) Start exercising regularly. Let's start with #1.

For those of you who know me, I despise cooking. No, really. I hate it. If I were rich, the first thing I would dobesides buy a new house, a closet full of new clothes and shoes, and a brand-spankin' new luxury SUV (maybe a Denali or something equally as posh) or better yet, a Dodge Viper (even though it's not very kid-friendly) or possibly my dream car, a lemon yellow convertible VW bug with a white daisy on the dashboardis hire a personal chef. If I were rich, I vow I would never cook again. Ever!

Alas, I am not rich, so cook, I must. (Yes, I'm channeling my inner Yoda today.) Unlike Martha Stewart, June Cleaver, or Julia Childs, I do not possess a love of all things domestic. My family, however, still deserves a good home-cooked dinner every now and then, so despite my lack of domestic prowess, I'm going to try my darndest this year to learn to enjoy preparing a meal.

Step one: learn to cook.

I'm not a bad cook (I make a mean green bean casserole!), but I'm sure there's a lot I don't know, so I figure I should start with the basics. In that regard, I signed up for a cooking class through the Bastrop YMCA called The Happy Kitchen / La Cocina Alegre® Cooking and Nutrition Education Program.

Photo by Jeff Kubina, Flickr CC.
The Happy Kitchen program is a 6-week series of classes which emphasize the selection and preparation of fresh, seasonal foods that are nutritious, economical, and delicious. Classes meet once a week for 1 1/2 hours to cook, discuss, and learn together. Everyone leaves each class with recipes and all the groceries needed to practice new cooking skills. And did I mention that registration is FREE?!

I don't enjoy cooking, but I do enjoy socializing, so an interactive cooking class seems like a great place to transition my passion for people into a love of cooking. Fingers crossed!

Step two: learn to cook efficiently.

If I have to cook less, I'll enjoy it more. At least, that's the idea. Therefore, I must learn to cook more efficiently.

Carolyn McMasters, a local consultant for The Pampered Chef®, is offering a class on Feb. 7th called Dinners Done Right: Freezer Meal Workshop. She helps you make 7 meals in 2-3 hours to freeze and take home. Let me say that again... 7 meals in only 2-3 hours!!! To someone who despises cooking, that sounds deliciously fantastic.

Photo by rpavich, Flickr CC

The class itself is free, but you will be provided with a list of items to purchase ahead of time (some of the items must be purchased through her Pampered Chef page) to use during the class to make the meals. Ingredients like Cherry Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic-Infused Canola Oil, and Spicy Pineapple Rum Sauce will be used to create the dishes, which to a novice like me, sound totally exotic and outside my normal realm of cooking. Which I guess is one of the main reasons I'm taking the class. Plus, you don't have to do the dishes or clean up! Now, that's my kind of cooking.

For details about the class, please contact Carolyn at (512) 450-2181.

Step three: learn to cook with local ingredients.

I've always been enamored with the idea of shopping at the local farmer's markets. There's something romantic and lovely about walking down aisles filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, and organic grains. However, I have no idea what to do with the things I find there, as I have zero recipes in my cooking repertoire that call for squash, eggplant, kale, beets, or zucchini. (Which is why I'm beginning my journey with some cooking classes!)

Photo by Jeff Kubina, Flickr CC.

I'm hoping that knowing I'm supporting local farmers as I cook will bring me more enjoyment from the cooking itself. Also, whether it's true or not, using local ingredients seems healthier. And I will most certainly feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from feeding my family healthier meals.

Photo by Sleeping Owl Photography, taken at Bastrop 1832 Farmer's Market.

In Bastrop County, we have two farmer's markets and one producer's market:

Since Bastrop County is mainly rural, we also boast many local farms. Click here for a list of local farms.

Step four: teach my kids to cook.

If all else fails, I'll just have my kids do the cooking. Of course, that means they'll need to learn to cook, too. Thankfully, the Bastrop YMCA offers youth nutrition programs like "Little Chef" and "The Great Food Race." These classes are designed to take students on a culinary journey which will lead to the discovery of new and exciting "super" foods. They will prepare simple, healthy dishes that can easily be recreated at home using ingredients that will become the building blocks of food for life.

Photo by Karen, edited, Flickr CC.

Yay for child labor! (Yes, I'm kidding. Mostly.) Seriously, though, I want my kids, unlike me, to enjoy cooking, maybe even love it. Kids learn best by doing and mimicking, so I must model a love of cooking for them. Also, I've read that kids are less likely to complain about the meal if they had a hand in preparing it. I think less whining is a wonderful reason for them to help me in the kitchen, don't you?

So, that's my plan. I'm going to take some cooking classes, frequent the local farmer's markets, and have my kids help in the kitchen. Easy peasy. I'll love cooking in no time. Hopefully. Then, when I become rich, I won't need to hire a personal chef. Instead, I'll hire a maid!

Tune in later this week to read about my plan to exercise more in our Bastrop County Fitness Guide!