Food. Bah, humbug.

I eat crap. I hate taking time out to eat a meal unless I’m with friends, and cooking is a PIA–not as bad as home plumbing projects but not as much fun as mowing the lawn. I don’t enjoy the process, and the result is only necessary for life, not that I couldn’t do alot less of it and still live. Cooking requires planning, shopping, the actual cooking, and cleaning up. It’s all time away from other things I’d rather do, and I don’t much care about the result.

I appreciate good food, but my main goal is to quell hunger pangs. A bowl of Chef Boya…nooo, don’t admit that in public. I can stand PB&J for only so long, and I’m willing to grill salmon or trout at most once a week (it’s perilously close to cooking, and yields only one meal). I have found the best thing is a casserole or pot of stew.

I blame my occasional need for decent food on my ex-husband. M ruined my college diet of generic mac-n-cheese (3 for a 1.00), hot dogs, and stir-fried spinach & cottage cheese by cooking food for me that tasted GOOD. I’d rarely had food I enjoyed before that. (Having found and fallen in love with my soul mate didn’t have a thing to do with it.)

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that I grew up having a nutritionally balanced dinner every night, especially since Mom hated cooking. But 18 years of hamburger helper, American cheese, and frozen spinach didn’t leave me with much of a palate. Food was a pain to prepare, a bother to eat (lima beans SUCK), and a chore to clean up.

In contrast, M is one of those people who can turn a few humble ingredients in a nearly empty larder into a tasty meal. Damn him. I was so much happier not knowing food could taste really good. M ruined me for processed foods (at least as my main sustenance), but I never got the hang of creative cooking. As the “ex” implies, tho’, I’m on my own, so I rely on recipes.

But, hell, I have trouble even following recipes. M got me in the habit of keeping scratch ingredients stocked, so I have all the basics. Usually. Since I don’t cook often they’re not always as fresh as one might like. Which would be okay, if only I knew how old they were. As for fresh vegetables, well, I frequently have experiments going along the lines of “how long can a parsnip live in a crisper before growing mold?” (Quite a long time as it turns out.)

Inevitably, cooking requires a trip to a grocery. Here’s another problem. My attention wanders when I’m uninterested in the task. As a result my grocery lists and purchases are often missing some crucial item. Executing recipes means paying attention to details like whether the recipe calls for baking soda or baking powder, or a 1/4 c. of sugar or 4 c. of sugar.

*sigh* It would be easier if I didn’t get hungry. But last week I got sick of whatever it was I was eating and went in search of summertime casseroles. I hunted in the usual places for vegetable heavy recipes. Thirty minutes on AllRecipes convinced me someone there has stock in the Campbell Soup Company (everything called for cream of chickencelerymushroom) or hails from Wisconsin (sure, a pound of cheese makes anything taste, well, cheesy). God, this makes me sound like a freekin’ gastronome. I’m not. Really.

My year or two of being “vaguely vegetarian” as the aforementioned ex called it, corrupted me almost as much as the ex’s cooking. I found I prefer cooking vegetarian (meat is a pain and sorta icky), and I really like eating vegetarian. So, I branched out and found Vanessapes. She has two recipes I’m very excited about. One is a vegetable pot pie that I’ll add a bit of chicken to (in place of the seitan). Another features a favorite combination: root vegetable + black beans + pepper called Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole.

Psyched to have good food to eat this week, I built a shopping list Thursday, checked the cupboards, and went shopping. Success! Oh, wait, oops. Nope. I missed two pot pie ingredients. Returned to the store on Friday and obtained forgotten items. Saturday evening I set out to make both casseroles and, I’d hoped, two pie crust recipes that could rest overnight.

Substituting yams for sweet potatoes and NM green chiles for the poblanos from my precious freezer stash, I started with the CSP&BB casserole. (I’d planned those substitutions, really) CSP&BB is a time consuming recipe–I should have bought bags of spinach instead of fresh bunches. What was I thinking? All that washing, de-stemming, blah, blah, blah. Nevertheless, I plugged away and got to the topping recipe. Once that was done the casserole could go in the oven!

Out comes the masa–yes, after living in NM for 20+ years, I actually keep masa on hand. Open the bag, measure it…sniff…Nooooo. No, it can’t be rancid! Maybe I only imagined it was rancid! Yes, that’s it. Ignoring my brain (men and stale ingredients, hm), I mixed the masa with the vegetable broth and milk, which sent out an odoriferous confirmation of its rancid state so strongly I gagged. I quickly scrapped, or, rather, scraped that into the green recycling bin, and hit Google. Maybe I could substitute a cornmeal-flour mix?! Nope. Masa is made from hominy corn and cornmeal isn’t. Many curse words later, I gave in, assembled the rest of the casserole and stashed it in the fridge. Today will be the third trip to the store for these four (counting pies which I’m not even going to eat) recipes. And it means driving on two days I’d designated no-drive days.

Either I need to cook more often or throw everything in the cupboards away once a year. When was the last time I made tortillas, anyway? It was a while ago… Good god, I was with “Z” at the time. That was years ago. Wonderful, I mark time by the man I was with. Lord, keep me single, please! Even if I have to do all my own cooking.

Food. What a bother.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] 10, 2008 at 8:51 pm · Filed under food ·Tagged casserole, recipe, vegetarian In a recent post, I mentioned two recipes from Vanessipes: a vegetable pot pie and Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black […]

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