Surprising Yourself In the Kitchen (Featuring a Hopeless Home Cook)
Guys, I've only started to become a "cook" at home in the last ten years or so. Before that, it was sandwiches and cereal. The Hallmark of the Lazy Person.
And then, for ages, I cooked with boxes or meal kits or whatever was easiest. Post divorce, it was back to frozen meals because... well, I just can't justify spending that much time, effort, and money cooking for one person. Especially if that one person is ME. Now if someone I know wanted a bowl of ramen, for example, I'll try to make it as tasty as possible, even if it takes me a hot minute of extra time. I'll use chicken stock to boil the water, I'll slice up some carrots and cabbage and herbs....but for me? Nah. I'm getting the packet straight out the microwave. Heck, I'm lucky if I even manage to heat it up before I eat it.
Well, I'm trying to fight back against that lately, because it's just not good for my health, you know? To be fair, it could be okay (not every frozen or easy meal is junk), but the choices I make for easy meals aren't the best. I will seriously sit and eat a bag of Boom Chicka Pop in entirety before I'll go and grill up some chicken. Sure, I'm not POISIONING myself, but... it's not great.
So here I am, trying to change. Or trying motivate myself to change with food. It's a little easier because if I'm cooking for a date, I HAVE to try a little harder. Recently I saw some duck breast on sale and got a little excited to try it. I did the whole shebang, you guys. I brined it and everything. Don't worry, I covered it. This was just for the picture.
Please to be ignoring my pajama bottoms.
And I found this stuff, which went great with said duck. Not an endorsement, cos I thought it was a tad overpriced, BUT. It was tasty. And they always tell you to put orange flavors with duck. So I gave it a shot. Don't know how I'll use the rest of it though.
Anyway, it was a success! Super simple. Just grilled up the duck and then added the stuff and cooked it a bit longer, and bam. Tastiness. NJ even said it was "fancy" and that was apparently because duck is....fancy people food? I pointed out that people hunt duck to eat it literally every year, and he was not convinced.
However, for every easy success, there is a struggle. I ordered this off of a website I frequent because I thought it would be simple and tasty. Something different to try that I'm bound to like - Cheesy pancakes with filling. Awesome.
However, what I did not realize was..... the instructions. They were.... not in English. At all. Not even an instructional manual with another language. I tried to suss it out for a bit, and well. I was, unsurprisingly, unsuccessful on my own. Your girl isn't smart with English, let alone Eastern Asian languages. I thought maybe I could figure it out if I had pictures, but the sticker on the back of the box took out that option.
I admit, I wasn't wigging out, but I was kind of frustrated with myself. Why didn't I make sure I knew how to do this before the box got here? Why did I assume this product would have Whitey Instructions for me?! Eugh. Anyway. The Google helped, and I did eventually figure it out, with tasty results.
It SAYS they're cheesy pancakes, but I don't know if I'd describe the filling as cheesy, so much as "liquid sweet". But it was tasty! Sweeter than our pancakes. But then... I do concede I might have gotten the instructions messed up. But if I did, it was a happy accident.
And speaking of happy accidents, I had a sudden EPIPHANY in the dairy aisle last week. All I saw, over and over again in the yogurts, were sweet options. Fruit flavors, cookie flavors, cake flavors, candy flavors. Well, I'm not 100% a sweets person. I get that most people are eating yogurts or Greek yogurts to replace desserts, but that's not my style. I want a simple snack that will keep me from biting people's heads off at work that isn't overloaded with sugar. And honestly, I get tired of fruit flavors in yogurts. You buy the two flavor pack, and at first your choice of Harvest Peach and Strawberry is amazing, until maybe like week three, and you're stuck with it until you finish it, or it goes bad. Or you COULD get individual yogurts, but those cost more. And they're all dessert anyway! Boston Crème Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Key Lime Pie.... Way to make a girl feel like Veruca Salt.
So then, like I said, I had an Epiphany that hit me harder than Seokjin's military photos. Why can't I flavor my OWN yogurts? I can buy a tub of plain, unflavored yogurt and just flavor it by the portion, every day. Feeling sweet? I have strawberry jam to put in it. Savory? A teaspoon of pesto or black pepper sauce works!
I especially like these little glass containers I got, they're a cup measurement so that's convenient for portion sizes.
To be honest, I felt a little stupid that it hadn't occurred to me before. So in the spirit of culinary inspiration, what have you tried recently in the kitchen that surprised you? Have you tried a new protein or a new recipe and were surprised at how well it turned out? Or did you try a new twist on an old favorite just to shake it up?