New Adventures in Cooking

I used to hate cooking. I hated every aspect of it – the planning, the shopping, the prepping, and the actual cooking. I don’t know why. I guess it just felt like a chore – a lot of work without much payoff. Turns out, I was wrong. Cooking is actually pretty amazing.

I’m in a relationship with a man who relishes life. I don’t know if he was always this way, but he’s this way now. This is a man who gets into whatever it is he’s doing. He jumps a foot out of his chair at scary parts of movies. He kisses with incredible passion. He laughs with his whole body – sometimes so hard he has to reach for his inhaler. He smiles with every single face muscle, dimples deepening, eyes sparkling. And he cooks with flair!

Now again, I don’t know if he’s always cooked, but in the years I’ve known him, I’ve watched him whip up some pretty tasty dishes out of nothing. When we first started dating, we didn’t get to see each other very often, so we pulled out our respective Crockpots on many of our “date nights.” Who wants to spend time cooking when your special someone is there? He would make batches of his amazing spaghetti sauce or chicken thighs with veggies. I would make a roast or a lasagna. Because he would be so appreciative when I cooked for him, making his signature “mmmm” sound after the first bite and enjoying every bite thereafter, I began to enjoy cooking.

I will admit I have always found cooking shows incredibly relaxing – from Giada to the Barefoot Contessa to Jamie Oliver. And now I have someone with whom to watch cooking shows! J and I have watched every season of “The Great British Baking Show,” several seasons of “Hell’s Kitchen,” and all of Gordon Ramsay’s “Ultimate Cookery Course.” I even got J the accompanying cookbook for Christmas. Paul Hollywood inspired him to bake soda bread, to which he has creatively added enhancements. He makes one with lemon, Craisins, and walnuts that’s off the hook delicious – especially when toasted and slathered with butter. He has made us several of Chef Ramsay’s recipes, including a whole roasted chicken. He’s made us a frittata a couple of times now that is so delicious we’ve pretty much added it to our meal rotation and are planning to use it in our Christmas brunch menu.

As for me, I love finding recipes on Pinterest and try to make something new each week. I found a delicious Braised Chicken with Apples & Sage recipe we had on Thanksgiving, as well as an amazing muffuletta sandwich recipe we took to an outdoor concert last summer. Recently, I made a tender pork roast and some pretty decent Moroccan chicken. It’s been a pleasant and delicious surprise to realize – after all these years of thinking I hated it – to find that I actually enjoy cooking and am pretty good at it. All it took was someone to share it with.

Now that we live together, we meal plan and shop together. I can’t tell you how much this alone has improved my outlook on food prep. I have done all of that pretty much solo for years, and it was a tedious chore for a long time. Having someone to discuss the plan with and then grocery shop with has made it (dare I say?) FUN. Who knew?!

Love changes so many things…

Just by being who he is, J has enhanced my life. The cooking piece is just a small example of the fun and enjoyment we’ve gotten from spending time together. As our waistlines have expanded (unfortunately!), our cooking has improved, and our love has deepened. I look at feeding our family and friends as more of an adventure now. My daughter will often say, “Are you guys making something fancy for dinner tonight?” That makes me smile.

Food is one of life’s pleasures, and just like life, it’s sweeter when you share it.

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