Why I Don’t Cook

When I returned from my recent adventure in Vermont, I was feeling motivated to eat as healthy as possible.  I also triggered an addiction to lobster, having stopped in Boston on both the way there and the way back, indulging in lobster rolls in both directions.

As such, I got out my favorite cookbook, “The Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook” and found myself drooling over the Lobster Fra Diavalo recipe.

By luck, my noon meeting cancelled and I managed to spend lunch at the grocery store.  I bought the provisions necessary for a 3-course meal–salad, entree, and dessert.

When my day had mostly wrapped up (I did have one evening conference call with some folks in Australia, but it didn’t last long), I started cooking.

Now, this is a rather rare phenomenon.  Finding me in the kitchen usually means I’m making coffee, eating yogurt straight out of the carton, or perhaps doing something as creative as making a smoothie.  But on this night, I was undertaking making 3 courses all for the same meal.

I started thawing the lobster tails for the Lobster Fra Diavalo.  I made pomegranate salad dressing and prepped the salad.  I put on wild rice to cook without fully reading the instructions (quite the risk taker).  I served the salad around 8PM, right after my conference call was over.  Not bad if you ignore the fact I’d started prepping around 5:30PM.

I thought I’d started the rice too late, but then I realized the sauce for the lobster had to cook down, so then my rice was going to be done too early.  I turned up the heat on the diavalo sauce in the hope of reducing it faster.  While it cooked, I made up some chocolate sauce from a New Life Hiking Spa recipe available on their website.  I was going to serve banana “ice cream” and chocolate sauce for dessert.

Note the time in the photo of the lobster cooking on the stove.  At 9:17, I was still trying to reduce the sauce.  We ate our lobster at 9:30.  It was actually quite good, if I do say so myself.  But, can lobster ever really taste bad?

Next, I took frozen bananas out of the freezer only to discover they weren’t really frozen all the way.  I decided to try to make the dessert anyway.  I put them in the blender and tried to puree them into an ice cream consistency.  Between their unfrozen state and my crappy blender, they came out more of a pudding consistency.  I enjoyed it anyway.  My husband wasn’t so keen on the dessert.  The chocolate sauce was tasty, but sweetened with maple syrup (not from Vermont), it was a little too mapley for him.

All in all, I invested about 5 hours of my time between planning, shopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning up for this one healthy meal.  I texted my friend that I now understand why I have time to workout–I don’t cook.

You Are What You Eat

One of my new year’s resolutions was to eat 3 fruits or vegetables a day on average. It’s not a very ambitious goal, but I find I am an over achiever and there are certain goals where it is quite painful to overachieve. Going from eating an occasional fruit or vegetable to eating, say, 10 a day happens to be one of those cases where more is not better. Since my real goal is to find a sustainable balance, I figure there’s nothing to gain by making myself miserable.

It’s January 3rd today and I’ve managed to eat 5 fruits or vegetables for two days straight. Now, we are headed out for breakfast and it feels like the last meal of a vacation, which I guess technically, it is. I am hard pressed to muster the strength to order oatmeal and eat a banana. Instead, I order “scattered ‘taters” with cheese, bacon, and an egg over medium.

When it comes, I slide the egg off its plate and make a stack. The puddle of grease the egg leaves behind is only slightly less disconcerting than the pool of grease under the hash browns. I try sliding the whole stack uphill while tilting the plate, allowing the grease to run to the far side of the plate in the hope of minimizing the damage to my arteries. After eating every last bite, we head out the door stuffed and decide we have enough time to run over to the grocery store.

We are unprepared with no bags or a list. We go inside and start grabbing the supplies we need, trying not to overfill the cart as we load up, cognizant that we’re going to be carrying our groceries home in paper bags. As we work our way around the store, a steady rumbling starts, building to the unmistakeable sound of pouring rain on a metal roof. We decide Pat will run home and get both reusable grocery bags and a car. While Pat returns to get the car, I start piling on the groceries.

I pick up watercress, celery, radishes, pears, and pine nuts for my favorite salad. I throw in a nice loaf of bread, creamy tomato soup, soy milk, and avocados. The cart is overflowing at this point. Fortunately, Pat returns before I add more. Of course, by the time we leave the store, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. We laugh when we walk outside.

My watercress salad doesn’t fully make up for my grease-pool breakfast, but the flavor combined with the feeling of eating health makes me think I could eat healthy all the time. As I scoop up the last bite of salad and the sweetness of the pear mixes perfectly with the spice of the watercress, I remember the quote from Meryl Streep above the produce section, “It is strange that the produce manager has more to do with my children’s health than their pediatrician” and smile.