Original post- February 25, 2011
My story began 27 years ago in a little town in northern Alabama. Being a Southern girl, a lot of expectations are put upon us to learn to cook that good ole “Southern food”. My little sister did a great job of learning these skills and even went to culinary school. While she was in the kitchen with my mom I was, during my elementary years, tucked away in my bedroom reading the latest “Sweet Valley High” or “Goosebumps” books. In my teenage years, I was usually on the phone with my friends or my boyfriend of the moment. When I look back at my teenage attitude, I’m not so sure my mom would have wanted me in the kitchen anyway… This was the beginning of my downfall.
I moved into my own apartment when I was 18. I’m not so sure that I ever used the kitchen. I did however eat a lot of take-out. I’m pretty sure the guy that made that movie about McDonald’s was speaking directly to me. I would hate to see my arteries! If it wasn’t for my mother and grandmother inviting me over to their houses to eat, I never would have had a home cooked meal. I owned a few pots and pans, but the only thing I knew how to cook on a stove was ramen and something that resembled overcooked scrambled eggs. I was (and still am) awesome at working a microwave and a toaster though!
My then boyfriend (he’s been upgraded to husband) and I moved in together in April 2003, and we worked together at O’Charley’s in Huntsville. We used the kitchen one time and only one time. The only reason I remember it is because we had the bright idea to put 10, yes 10, lbs of hamburger meat onto a cookie sheet and pop it into the oven to thaw it so that we could form it into hamburger patties. Are you beginning to see how bad I am/was at this? As expected, we overcooked it and were too scared to eat it and gave it to our tiny dog. Her belly expanded to a very alarming size and she was waddling like a baby learning to walk. Needless to say, she was pretty sick later and we ended up eating take-out. I would like to thank O’Charley’s for our meals for the 6 months that we lived at that apartment though…
Fast forward a bit to Spring 2005. My hubby (well, fiance at that point) was overseas and I lived in a duplex with my best friend, Christina. She moved in with me for a little while before I got married. At some point I had learned to cook spaghetti. We ate spaghetti or ramen every single night. (It took me a long time to return to eating noodles.) There were many times I pulled the spoon out of the pot and a huge chunk of noodles would come with it. I can still see Christina’s face as I would tell her supper was ready. It was definitely not a look of excitement.
Russ and I got married in Summer of 2005 and moved back to Alabama from Georgia in October of 2005. I learned to cook a few things here and there because, well let’s face it, I had to learn something because I was a wife and I wanted to be “domesticated”. I had about 4 or 5 meals that I would rotate out and when we got tired of those we supplied the fast food chains with our money because we knew they were seriously hurting for the cash since I was cooking occasionally. I found out in September 2006, that I was pregnant with our first child. I immediately tried learning new recipes, but cooking when you are pregnant can be really great or really awful. There were days that just thinking of food made me nauseous and then there were days that I couldn’t eat enough. Thank the good Lord that I discovered my child wouldn’t eat table food until she was at least a year old. After her first birthday, she had a steady diet of Gerber’s graduates. I had at this point added a few more recipes to my list.
Now it’s 2011. I have been married almost 6 years, I have 2 kids, same dog with the expandable tummy, a gorgeous kitchen in our new house and I’m 27… you would think I would have a decent list of recipes under my belt, right? WRONG! I have enough to sustain us for about 2 1/2 weeks. They get so old too! My sweet 3 year old daughter could survive off macaroni-and-cheese and spaghetti (which is much better now than it was in ’05 by the way), but I think she’s needs more nutritious foods! Plus, I’m not so proud to say that lately, we’ve been eating out a lot. I went on bed rest with my last pregnancy in June 2010 and my husband would pick up food for my daughter and I rather than cooking. I ended up having my son nine weeks early in July 2010, and for 33 days we traveled back and forth to the NICU center that was 45 minutes away so my car became a moving dinner table. It’s bad when your 3 year old knows the menu for just about every national food chain. I was hit hard by having 2 children at home too. My daughter quit going to daycare in order to prevent my preemie son from catching any unnecessary viruses and my son had colic when he came home. I was exhausted and cooking wasn’t on my list of things that sounded appealing. I looked at our bank statement one month and the money going to food was almost as much as my house payment. I had to stop allowing my family to eat this way. Not only were we spending an atrocious amount of money, but my family never felt good. We never had energy to do anything and my husband and I were gaining weight because our metabolism isn’t what it used to be. It was time for a change. (On a side note: I was a Pampered Chef consultant for 2 years. I was a FRAUD!)
We’ve began eating in more, but about a week ago I realized that the same old meals are getting old. I refuse to go back to eating out to fill in the “blah” days when nothing sounds good. I pulled out all the cookbooks I’ve acquired over the years and the two boxes of recipe cards my husband’s grandmother gave me around the time we got married. I picked out probably 60 or so recipes and gave myself a challenge- 30 days, 30 new meals. Now, when I think about it, we have family suppers for birthdays and we usually just eat sandwiches on Wednesdays because with church it is hard to fit in supper. So, I’m still cooking 30 meals, but it may take me more than 30 days. I invite you to join me, and laugh at me if you want, as I learn to cook new things for my family. I’ll give the recipe and what we thought of it too. Hopefully, I’ll learn more about myself as I learn new recipes!