Becoming the Cook I want to be!

As a newbie cook, I’m a bit daunted by this week’s assignment. I’m ancient and just learning foundational cooking skills. My history with food is limited and bland, filled with creamed foods with little color or taste. While I love my mother, she was not a cook and I did not learn on my own. Food has also been an area of control and constraint for me over the many years living with Type 1 diabetes. When I was diagnosed, food options were limited, weighed and measured to within an inch, and food was more of a threat than an enjoyment. As the diabetes field has evolved, flexibility with food has expanded exponentially. I am slowly moving along with this.  So, I’ve stocked my home with an array of foods and collected recipes to overflowing. Now is the time to move to put the food and recipes together!

Taking stock of my pantry was eye opening! I have just about anything needed – pastas, multiple types of rice, stock of every sort, collection of fairly fresh spices and frozen herbs, frozen meat, fresh and frozen vegetables, juices, dairy products, nuts of all sorts, unami options – anchovies, soy sauce, etc.

I decided to start small and safe with a recipe that was familiar – also acceptable to the varied palates of my husband and 16-year old daughter. Speed of completion was also important. Looking through foods that were available and needed to be used, I decided to adapt a family favorite – porcupine meatballs. These are meatballs with embedded, uncooked rice that’s simmered in V-8 juice for an hour. To speed this up, I browned ground beef with onions rather than making meatballs. At the same time, I cooked white and brown rice in the microwave. All was thrown together with left over V-8 juice (I made vegetable soup last week- love adding the V-8 to the stock) in a pan and heated together. During the simmer, I steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Start to finish – 20 minutes. And it was good enough to get my 16-year old to the table for dinner. Victory!

After dinner, I noticed a container of cherry tomatoes on the counter that needed to be eaten. I didn’t want to roast or make sauce out of them, so I scanned through my recipes. Creamy Shrimp stuffed cherry tomatoes ( caught my eye and took advantage of ½ bag of shrimp in the freezer and cream cheese that cried to be used. The recipe was simple and quick: 1) cut off and de-pulp the tomatoes; 2) pulverize the shrimp, cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, horseradish, and lemon juice in food processor; and 3) put the 2 together (this actually was the hardest part!). The result – tasty treat for snack and lunch tomorrow.

All in all, this was fun and encouraging. A great way to jumpstart my life as a cook!


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