>Hold Fast, Cooks!

>It can be overwhelming [as a home cook] to discover that after one makes dinner, the kitchen is left in a state of glorious unrest. It’s healthy to understand that cooking your own meals involves dirty dishes, stovetops and caked flour between the cracks of your countertop. (Well, we have tiles for our countertop — obviously not the best for cleanup. Thank you, brilliant kitchen designer of the 1960’s.)

But I must say unto you, Hold Fast! Do not let it discourage you. Most importantly, you are not alone. It is always a battle when you’re at that point of the day, and like many of us, have been on your feet all day working and taking care of kiddies and babies, to decide upon take out, going out or buying frozen. And let me be the first to say that there isn’t anything wrong with that. Some days, we want take out, so we get it. I’m not trying to come off as though I cook every single day and feel energized at the end. I do, though, find home cooking to be an exciting part of the day…when I do have the energy.

There are a few ways I’ve found to overcome those daily battles of cooking in and ordering out. First, there’s the hassle of having ingredients to cook with. Think about what you have in your pantry and refrigerator to determine if you can even make anything without going to the store. I generally only have to cook for two people, so it’s somewhat easy to throw together a few bits and respectively, chow down.

As a Southerner, I’m almost trained to start thinking about food before it’s time to eat. In general, we are known to talk about lunch after breakfast and dinner after lunch. This is nothing new, but it does help you get motivated to cook. If you have what you want to eat in mind, and you have the means to acquire those ingredients, I’ve found it much easier to ‘want’ to cook.

So let’s say you’ve decided upon cooking – sweet! You will now know everything that goes into your food [generally speaking]. You can feel it with your hands and find comfort in a full belly because of you or the person who cooked it worked really hard at making it taste good!

Clean as you cook. This has been one of the biggest things I’ve learned. If you can clean your utensils, pots and containers as your food is cooking, you have already beaten that dirty monster that comes out to frighten you at night. There’s nothing like eating dinner and knowing that overwhelming kitchen won’t be there to haunt you in the morning.

Think about one-pan/pot dinners. Casseroles are great for this reason. Also, roasting a chicken on top of root veggies or brussel sprouts is generally easy to do. It also allows the fat from the chicken to cook the veggies, which certainly does not suck.

Take pride in your work. Because in the end, it is work that you’re not getting paid to do. In fact, you’re paying to do it. And this is so important – to find value in this way of life. Most cultures don’t have the option of not cooking. After you cook, you clean and you start cooking again. It is time we get over our fear of dirty dishes and frozen pizza and discover the joy that is cooking for ourselves and the people we love.

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