On my radar for this week

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February 25, 2013 by E.

(Completely unrelated side note: the word ‘radar’ always makes me think of this song.)

Every weekday, after I’ve sent A. off to work with his packed lunch and his homemade egg breakfast sandwich (yes, I make him lunch and breakfast every day – it saves so much money with virtually zero effort), I have basically nothing to do until he comes home.  Although I’m kind of searching for a job, fortunately I have enough saved that A.’s salary can support us in the meantime.  (And secretly I think A. enjoys having a housewife to do the cooking and cleaning.)  So although my day probably should be spent applying for every job that looks even remotely like it would be a good fit for my skill set and background, my day actually revolves around cooking.  

I spent most of my college years living in my sorority house, where all our meals were prepared by a chef in a professional kitchen, so my need and ability to cook for myself was nonexistent.  Even if I had been able to use a normal kitchen (instead of one with a 12 burner industrial range), I shared one room with three other girls, so storage space was at a minimum.

During grad school, I lived in an apartment with my best friend, who also loves to cook as much as I do.  We shared everything, included all kitchen equipment, so I didn’t have the need (or the income) to buy my own appliances if they were to be a duplicate of one she already owned.

Last year, when I was working and finally had the income to expand my kitchen collection, my roommate situation was such that I found myself retreating to my room, rather than taking joy in spending time in the common spaces, even the kitchen.  I acquired new pans, knives, and appliances, but wasn’t able to delight in their use.

This year, though, everything is different.  My living situation is perfect (well, practically perfect – minus the cold nights when A. steals all the covers and every night when he hogs all the bed).  I love spending time in a kitchen that is all mine, stocked with my ingredients that I get to use and my equipment that I get to care for.  I love having someone else to cook for, a reason to try ambitious new recipes and exotic new ingredients.  But most importantly, I like having a purpose each day, something that keeps me from going crazy by myself in this 650 square-foot closet we call an apartment.

So this week, here is my food-related to-do list.

  • Homemade pasta shrimp “alfredo” for Monday night dinner.  A.’s idea of good pasta used to be an Olive Garden abomination disgusting plate of processed crap ahem, special.  Then I made him homemade pasta and took him to Italy for a month.  Now, he knows better than to ask for any type of “alfredo” sauce, since such a concept doesn’t exist in Italy.  Nevertheless, he still likes pasta with a cream sauce, which I lighten up (every little bit helps?) by making a roux first and using 2% milk instead of cream.
  • Baking chocolate chip cookies.  Over the last month, we’ve become very friendly with our Indian shuttle-bus driver.  Once he found out we adore Indian food, and especially spicy food, he brought me a package of tandoori chicken seasoning to try.  I’d like to return his kindness by making him an American treat.
  • Making mustard from scratch.  Last week, I ordered a two-pound bag of whole mustard seed from Amazon, and the package arrived this past Friday.  One of my favorite cookbooks has a recipe for homemade mustard, and it looks like the easiest thing in the world.  Mustard is our second favorite condiment (aside from hot sauce), so I’m excited to try this and experiment with variations.
  • Baking fresh bread.  I have a self-proclaimed aversion to baking.  Cooking, I love.  When you cook, there isn’t much you can’t fix.  Aside from overcooking/burning, most problems have an easy solution.  Baking, however, is more precise, more exact, more demanding.  I always struggled with science in school, and baking seems like exactly that.  But, I now live with the biggest sweet-tooth of them all, and not baking ever isn’t going to get me very far in this relationship.  So, I figure, if I’m going to have to bake cookies and other sweets, I might as well supplement that with something that’s at least moderately healthy and could actually save us some money.  Enter, homemade bread.  Wish me luck.

I’ll be sure to let you know how everything turns out!  Pretty sure I can handle the pasta and the mustard, everything else is a gamble.

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