What is one of the hardest things about trying to eat healthy? Well – at least one of the hardest for me, anyway. Actually cooking and eating what I cook. I’m not a bad cook. I’m actually pretty good, if I do say so myself. When I was in high school, I would fantasize about having my own cafe for lunches and breakfast, where I could cook yummy food, and bake to my hearts content without having to eat it all myself. Summer of 1998 I was actually accepted to a culinary school in San Francisco and almost went with it, but, the stubborn romantic in me decided I was going to get married instead and continue my degree at CSUS.
Now there are a lot of reasons I could give you now with 20 years worth of hindsight, but in the thick of it, all I could focus on was my lifetime goal of wanting to be a wife and a mother. Ultimately, my life goals were to be a wife/mother and a fiction writer; pretty much in that order. Yes, I wanted to be able to cook and bake, but if I had the large family of kids I always dreamed of, that would be just as satisfying. In the early days of my marriage I would daydream of teaching my future little ones how to cook and bake and it made me smile. By the time my marriage was on hospice I hated cooking, I avoided baking, and I had never had any little ones to teach.
It was an insidious death that my love of cooking experienced. It was dead before I even realized it. My baking always won me praise from my ex. My cooking? Not so much. I have several memories of disappointment at dinner time, the first, was when I did a roast chicken for dinner one night. I had put so much effort into trying to make a good healthy dinner. I had all the right food groups and was sure the chicken was fully cooked. We didn’t have a real dining table at that point. I don’t think we’d been married even two months yet. I believe our “table” was a stack of plastic totes with a table cloth spread over it. We sat down to dinner and he took one look at the chicken and flat out stated “I’m not eating that”. He blamed his mom for having him help her color diagrams for her human anatomy classes for his issues with chicken. I had seen him eat chicken. I had never seen him faced with a whole roast chicken though. For this I was “rewarded” with him going to the bedroom and closing the door and refusing to even try anything else that I had made. I felt like a failure. I’m pretty sure I threw everything away, including the chicken. As the years progressed it got to the point where I felt completely incapable of even making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. There were a few things he raved about me making (my baked chimichangas being one of them), but that list was so small and were usually dishes that I didn’t actually care for or like.
I would try to find ways to not have to actually cook for us. When I was growing up my dad would cook as often as he could, however, with his work schedule, the opportunities were not great in number, but he was always there to help my mom and my expectations of my husband were set very high. I was informed by my ex that my expectations were unrealistic and whenever I asked him to cook, we usually went out. Buffets were a favorite because he could get whatever he wanted and I could comfort myself with whatever fried chicken they had along with mashed potatoes, steak, and gravy with soft serve for dessert. There was very little home cooking going on by the time I left. Even when trying to minimize our processed food consumption, we still had a freezer full of fish sticks and pizza. A “romantic” evening at home usually consisted of a couple frozen appetizers from the grocery store and maybe a frozen entree as well.
So here I am now, almost 5 years after leaving him, and I still struggle to cook my own food. I would much rather just go buy something premade and not deal with the dishes or the actual cooking or anything that reminds me of my past life. I didn’t even realize that was what I was doing until this evening as I sat down to dinner. Cooking for one is a rough job, and I doubt I will ever master it, but tonight consisted of a small hamburger patty, a small head of cauliflower (I didn’t eat it all), with sauteed onions and mushrooms. The sauce was just butter with herbs and I poured it over the cauliflower. It was delicious. I couldn’t eat everything. I’ll have everything but the hamburger patty left over for lunch tomorrow. I’ve always known I was a capable cook, even though some experiments don’t pan out. My chickens are very forgiving of my culinary fails. To them I am the best cook ever. Eating out should be more of a reminder of my past life than cooking at home. If we were to tally up the number of meals at home compared to the number of meals out over the course of the 15 and a half years we were together, I have a feeling there would be way more tallies on the eating out list.
I am hoping that now that I’ve had this realization that it will help me take one more step of healing. I hope it brings joy back to my kitchen so that I can revel in the therapeutic motions of cooking as well as my baking. I really don’t eat as much as I used to, so I don’t have to really make a lot of food. I can look forward to the freedom to enjoy my cooking now as I can in other ways.
**Picture above is my orchid that actually rebloomed!
I hope the season is treating everyone well. The government shutdown has been a struggle for so many. It is supposed to be ended now, for at least three weeks. I was supposed to return to work on the 7th, but that was postponed because of the shutdown. I am hoping to get a new start day soon.
Out of 9 eggs my chickens hatched last summer I have ended up with 6 roosters and 2 hens with 1 that I think is a hen, but she hasn’t laid an egg yet. So far I have been able to find homes for all of the roosters. Spring is coming and my next generation of Chick-A-Doodles is coming as well. I love watching the chicks grow up. It happens so fast. Spring is also gardening and yard season. I have so many plans for my plants. I got some rhubarb planted that my mom brought me before winter hit. Only took me until mid winter to do so. I have so many plans and hope to get some good pictures to share.
Scrappy – my runt. Polish Rooster.