Ever since returning from vacation my evenings are looking steadily different. Before vacation I would come home at 6:30 or 7, toast two pieces of tomato basil bread, smash up an avocado and quickly eat them before spending some time on the phone, take a shower, then bed. Since returning I get home around 6ish as I’m actually leaving work at 6 these days (!!!!!!), do dishes from the day, and start cooking. Dinners lately have been simple pasta dishes (carbonara, garlic/butter, marinara ricotta sauce), but I’m still taking the time to cook. The rest of my night looks similar – phone calls, shower, etc., but simply taking the time to prepare a simple meal has made such a difference.
I feel full and healthy. You can probably already guess how two pieces of toast a night makes someone feel, right? There’s not only a physical effect, but a mental effect as well. I (obviously) love food, and grew up with a home-cooked family dinner most nights (bless my wonderful mother), so not having real meals made me feel less whole in a way. It was almost like having TV dinner or something of the sort. I knew I should be doing better.
I’m actually cooking something other than pasta with marinara, which means I’m learning slowly but surely. I have yet to cook meat for regular meals, or go outside the pasta + sauce box. Most of these are taking just twenty-thirty minutes to prepare. But it’s a start. And it has been relatively simple to shop. Honestly, I started with this XO Jane article and have kept going with it. It’s a great idea for anyone who is new to cooking. I’m a baker, so I know what staple ingredients I need from the grocery store. However, when it comes to meals I feel lost when writing a grocery list, or I end up with ingredients and no idea how to put them together. Starting with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and pasta is such an easy and less intimidating way to get my feet wet.
My kitchen is clean! You would think that just having toast every night would keep it more clean, no? Well just using knives and plates for all my meals meant that space on the drying rack was plentiful. Plus, it’s so easy to clean a plate that I would procrastinate and let them build up. However, if I need the same two pots and maybe this saucepan every evening and the next day (re-heating leftovers) then I have to clean the dishes. Usually I wash a (small) sink full of dishes right before cooking at night and again before going to bed. I love having a clean kitchen, and the same cleanliness has spilled into the rest of my apartment (for the most part). I still have too much clutter and am challenged when it comes to put my clothes back where they need to be.
Lunch is extremely simple. I cook enough for two at night, and reheat the pasta in my small saucepan the next day. Easy easy easy.
Overall, I just feel better. I am doing something for myself outside of work. I have something to look forward to when the day gets tough. I am writing here again. I have good beer and fresh ingredients in my refrigerator.
It’s the little things that count.