My Cooking Mantra

Nothing, I mean nothing, tastes more delicious, more addictive than homemade, from-scratch food.

As I've gotten older, I've noticed that so many people don't cook at home and, those who do, don't cook from scratch. The semi-homemade meal has taken over and, while I understand the necessity for a quicker, easier meal after a full-day of work, I think it's quite sad that from-scratch has been put far beyond the back-burner.

Though many dishes can be difficult and time-consuming, most of what people are serving, semi-homemade, are easy to replicate from scratch. Not everything takes as much skill as a soufflé

In all truthfulness, home cooking not only tastes worlds better than shelf-ready, processed foods, but it's healthier and much cheaper. It also opens up a world of options because you have every base ingredient at your fingertips to play with, rather than settling on a few options from a handful of different brands. Yes, you may end up having to clean an extra pan or two, actually using a knife from the expensive set that just sits in a block on the counter, but it pays off. Once you've established a routine, cooking becomes second-nature and you'll wonder why you ever allowed yourself to eat stir-fry from a bag in the freezer.

It seems to me that we put too much emphasis on fast and easy, too much of our time on laziness and "relaxation." People will come home from work, make a quick meal out of a bag or a box, and then spend hours in front of the television or computer until it's time for bed. It's actually quite pathetic!

What happened to everything in moderation? Spend a bit of time watching tv, a bit of time surfing the web, and a bit of time cooking and eating with the family. When I get home from work, I rest for maybe an hour, to recuperate, then I spend the next half hour or so in the kitchen, preparing dinner, and the remaining three or four hours are spent enjoying my boyfriend's company whether at the dinner table or in front of the television. Do I really need the one extra hour of tv? Sacrifice an incredible meal of fresh ingredients for a container of preservatives? 

I say, leave the weekends for your laziness; that's what they're there for! In my parents' home, we had a home-cooked meal just about every night. It wasn't until the weekend that we indulged ourselves with high-fat, high-calorie processed foods from outside the house--Saturday night Little Caesar's pizza (back when the Hot-N-Ready didn't exist and "pizza pizza!" was on everybody's lips) and Sunday morning breakfast at Big Boy. Fast food we saved mostly for road trips up north to our cottage or heading south to Virginia to visit my father's family.

Yet, both of my parents worked full time jobs; my mom went into work early while my dad stayed behind to take us to school; then, my mom got home early to start cooking dinner. And when she cooked dinner, it wasn't just one meal for the four of us; she cooked up to three or four different meals! Sure, the sides would often overlap, but she was cooking one main dish for her and my father, and two different ones for my brother and myself, who were both very, very picky eaters. After nine hours at the office, she could have easily given into bags and boxes or forced us to all eat the same thing, but she made the food herself, threefold. And, somehow, she still had plenty of time to relax on the couch with two hour-long soap operas and a set of prime-time dramas

The point is, cooking from-scratch doesn't have to be torture and it doesn't have to consume your entire morning or evening. With a lot of pre-prepared foods, you have to go through most of the same steps for cooking; you simply save yourself a few measuring spoons, a pan, or a whisk. 

You can break this bad habit, though, with your body (and taste buds) thanking you. Just make it fun; create meals you've never tried before that you can't find in any restaurant or on any shelf. And work as a team! Cooking together, you get to enjoy each other's company, spending quality time together while the task before you just flies by. Simply start your own traditions and take solace in the fact that you're doing something good for yourself and the people who love you. 

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