I first started cooking because I had just moved from a bachelor to a studio apartment and I realized that I had been taking kitchens for granted. I wanted to love and appreciate my kitchen in a way I hadn’t before; so I fired up the stove and used a small cabinet stand as a prep table.
I started by making dinners for my boyfriend. Some were semi-successful, others borderline disastrous. God bless him for his patience with me.
I once tried to make a baked chicken but my baking dish was too small and I couldn't get the chicken to cook all the way through. Also I didn't have an internal thermometer for my oven.
My boyfriend had to leave because it was getting so late and I felt completely defeated. I ended up eating cheese fries at a bar, on the verge of tears over a half baked chicken. I still don't like to cook chicken.
We’ve stuck it out together and as I have gotten more comfortable in the kitchen, my meals have thankfully improved.
Though some of the other things I tried were successful, the first major breakthrough actually came when my boyfriend decided it was his turn to run the kitchen. He recreated a dinner from a YouTube video featuring Gordon Ramsey.
His excitement was infectious. We watched the video over and over, went shopping for ingredients and proper tools and then set to work. The entire time we were in the kitchen he was shouting in a fake accent, doing his best Ramsey impression and I was giggling incessantly.
It was the first time I realized cooking is supposed to be fun. It became so much more than another chore or task to be accomplished. It was no longer about the result at the table, but about the time in the kitchen.
And that dinner was delicious. It's one of the few things we make again and again.
I still do most of my cooking when my boyfriend is joining me for dinner but now I use my days off to try new dishes and techniques. This week with the heat wave hitting hard in my un-air conditioned apartment, I made a ramen-inspired cold noodle dish.
I used whole wheat spaghetti, topped it with roasted broccolini, crispy tofu, raw brussel sprouts and a jammy soft boiled egg and then poured a fish sauce/garlic/lime mixture over the whole thing.
I used a few different recipes for inspiration but didn’t follow any one exactly. It’s the first time I’ve made something new without precise instructions which is very exciting but was also more complicated that it needed to be for the same reason.
I know I still have a long way to go on this journey, but with every dish that makes it to the table, I celebrate the small victories.
I rejoice in having fun and learning in my own home. I reflect on what worked, what didn't and how I can make it better and most importantly, I eat happy.