I don’t like cooking, and I’m not good at it.
I say this a lot.
I can handle baking. I did it a lot in Uruguay, actually, when I was bored or just wanted to experiment with our set-it-on-fire-yourself gas oven. But when I’m on my own in Norman, I do a very good job of avoiding any actual one-on-one experience with the kitchen. If I ever find someone who wants to marry me, he gets extra points for taking charge of dinner time.
Unfortunately, my typical approach to cooking (not doing it) isn’t going to fly in D.C., where it costs like $8 for a whiskey Coke and twice that much for a meal at one of the ubiquitous “Chipotle for Mediterranean/pizza/whatever combination of grains and greens we can overcharge you for” chains.
I’m 22, I’m educated, I’m independent. But I had literally no idea how to grocery shop for myself until pretty much last week. However, much to the delight of my long-suffering mother, I have in fact managed to feed myself a decent amount of reasonably nutritious food over the past two weeks.
One of the immediately annoying things about D.C. is the moment when you realize it’s not exactly a city that’s convenient to live in. The closest full-size Target is a 25-minute Metro ride away, and I’ve only heard Walmart spoken of in hushed tones behind closed doors. Our options are pretty much Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, which was a true shock to my far more sensible roommate, Paige. (Paige’s first grocery haul was from a Safeway in the far northeastern reaches of D.C., a.k.a. 17th and R.) Whole Foods is incredibly enticing but also horrifyingly bougie, so when I realized that woman cannot live on takeout alone, I braved TJ’s (the other party of this post’s titular affair) by my lonesome, armed with a random grocery list I found on the internet.
And you know what? I’ve cooked. Multiple times. And it hasn’t pained me too much yet. My only slight miss was attempting to meal prep lunches for the week, and that was mostly because butternut squash is kind of gross if you heat it in the microwave and then try and pretend it’s a normal part of your salad.
Friday night was one of my first intense cravings. I wanted tacos, and even though I suck at cooking, I figured it couldn’t be that hard. Right? Right. The beans, rice, and kale were ingredients I already had on hand, as was the salsa I used as a saucy topping. I got everything else for under $15. The key to most of what I’ve made so far is longevity — it’s almost all freezable, which gives a lot more flexibility.
Anyway, these tacos were dope. 10/10.
Attempt #2 at Cooking Dinner Like an Adult was tofu stir fry, which was something I felt pretty confident about not f***ing up too badly. I’ve made stir fry before; the tofu was really the only new territory. Press the water out of it, crisp it up, add some sauce, and it will be delicious, just like pretty much everything else you can cook in a pan.
Stir fry was dank. 9.5/10, since I’m sort of a mess and the rice was a little soft.
Today, I realized that I had the only two things I needed for an incredibly satisfying and deeply unhealthy
appetizer lunch, ok, I ate it for lunch: cheese, and leftover French fries. Paired with a lil bit of Paige’s parmesan garlic salad dressing, I got a result that made me pretty damn happy.
Cheese fries get an 11/10. Their beauty speaks for itself.
Any advice for cooking with fairly normal ingredients that I won’t have to traverse the Metro for and can actually use more than once? Let me know. I’m getting more used to this cooking thing, if a bit begrudgingly.