Kitchen Woes

In all honesty I have never been super confident in the kitchen (the exception being baking – more on that later). Despite my comfort in other areas of domestic duties this is the one space I have always felt a little awkward. I am not a complete dud (I already have some favourite meals under my apron), but I just don’t possess the same ease and confidence with which I manage other household tasks.

I suppose this stems from the little experience I have had in the kitchen growing up. Whilst I always did my own cleaning and tidying both my parents are excellent cooks so dinner was never something I needed to worry about preparing. Therefore I lack the practise and henceforth the confidence.

Funnily enough the notion of having to cook a meal every night of the week after finishing work at 7.30pm or later was the one thing I didn’t think I would be able to handle once I was married. I panicked: how am I going to muster up the creativity to think of something yummy to make, have all the necessary ingredients waiting in the pantry and actually manage to cook the meal by a respectable time. And even though The Hubby likes to cook he also finishes work rather late (and has to travel a fair distance to work) so the notion of him making a head start on the cooking is not an option.

This was followed by another wave of panic: what if I cannot make anything good. I have been so used to having such delicious meals at home (an experience shared by The Hubby at his family home which he also lived in until we got married) that I didn’t think I could match the home cooking we have always been used to. I suppose the wifely values start creeping in more clearly now, but I really wanted to be able to make yummy and delicious meals for The Hubby. It was (and is) really important to me that he enjoy my cooking and that my skills in this area did not disappoint.

Despite all the hysteria (which I kept to myself as I didn’t want to seem insecure) I have actually been managing very well. The night we returned from our honeymoon I said I would whip up a quick dinner (my mum had been lovely enough to fill our formerly empty pantry).  I so wanted the first meal I made for The Hubby to be tasty. Not a culinary feat (I had just been travelling for 24 hours straight) but something homey and tasty. With the limited ingredients in my possession I made a very simple tuna, avocado and lemon pasta and it actually went down very well. The Hubby grabbed a second serve and my heart filled with so much warmth (I had to hide a little smile)…

Since then I have fallen into the cooking duties very easily. Luckily I had some time off work after returning from my honeymoon which gave me time to practise my skills in the kitchen and become more comfortable before returning to the office.  Over the last few weeks I have managed to make some simple and tasty meals and it seems The Hubby has been satisfied.

Now that we are both back at work full-time I prepare a very rough sketch of the meals I will make during the week, shop for all the ingredients on the weekend, freeze the proteins, defrost the required meat before I leave home each morning and then everything is ready to go for when I arrive home. It’s a good system and takes the stress out of worrying “what will I make tonight” when it is already 6pm and I’m still in the office. The only factor I doesn’t have as much control over is when I will actually make it home to cook.

While I would eventually like to make more adventurous meals, I believe home cooking is about comfort, simplicity and taste and for now that is what I am hoping to achieve on a daily basis. Wish me luck…

For all of you out there who are responsible to cook dinner for yourself or their family – how did you find the adjustment to having to cook for yourself and your family? Were you nervous like me? Or had you been cooking all your life? Does anyone have any tasty and quick recipes that could help me out? Or perhaps some more complex meals that you reserve for the weekend? Either way I would love to hear your thoughts.

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8 thoughts on “Kitchen Woes

  1. I can highly recommend the 30 Minute Meals book from Jamie Oliver – quick but interesting food, and the menus are all for a main course, side dishes and dessert so you feel like it’s a proper dinner.

    I wish I was getting paid to promote this book, I seem to be telling everyone about it!

    • Hahaha, he made to get you on the payroll.

      I used to watch his “30 Minute Meal” shows on the telly. I often wondered if it was a “Jamie Oliver 30 minute cooking time” or it is actually achievable for us everyday cooks. Glad to see you liked it and I think I will have to get myself a copy…

  2. I’ve been baking all my life and find it very easy, but actual cooking was something I didn’t start doing until a few years ago. I asked for a cookbook for Christmas one year and my mom got me this excellent Betty Crocker cookbook which had all the things a good cookbook should have for someone not totally experienced. It has a lot of colour photos, detailed guides to different kinds of food (for example, a chart of which apples are best used for what dishes and a guide to all the different kinds of cheese and a quick cooking guide for various cuts of meats, etc), simple, easy to follow instructions, and best of all, pictures of what things look like when they are too underdone, too overdone, or just right. I basically taught myself to cook just using that book.

    Lately, my husband has not wanted large meals in the evenings so we’ve been doing a lot of salads lately. I did surprise him with tacos the other night, which are VERY easy and VERY quick to make. He’d never had them before! But he liked them and asked for them again.

    I find that making sauces and such ahead of time and storing them for later use is very helpful. Like right now, I have an abundance of tomatoes, so I was going to make a huge pot of bolognese later. It freezes and refrigerates really well and then all I have to do later in the week is make a pot of pasta and warm up the sauce.

    If you have a decent amount of freezer space and plenty of glass bakeware, you can always assemble and freeze casseroles for later, too.

    I also like to cook chicken ahead of time and use it in a variety of dishes later on, like soups, salads, sandwiches, crepes, etc. It saves a lot of time!

    • Those all sound like really good ideas, especially when I have limited cooking time. That cookbook sounds really good in terms of teaching the basics. The equivalent for me is “Cooking the Australian Way”. A bit of a cooking compendium which was required for my senior school home economic classes. You are have actually reminded me what a good resource it is and I’ll make sure some time flipping through the pages this weekend.

      Mexican is a favorite in our home as well. They are quick and easy, but so tasty!

      Thanks heaps for the tips!

  3. I’m the eldest of five kids so I’ve been cooking since I could stand at the oven! I’m not living at home any more and I actually find it more challenging cooking for two than I did for seven! There’s more motivation when six other people are clamouring for dinner than one other person! A meal plan is a must for the week days anyway, I tend to make meals that I can freeze half of and reheat on the busy nights! I save the complicated stuff for weekends when I have more time!

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