From as far back as I could remember I always enjoyed cooking. I learned how to cook like most girls by watching my mother and from taking Home Economics class in school. My basic baking skills also started at a very young age with my all time favorite, the easy bake oven. As I got older and gained more cooking experience from watching Julia Child and studying my Betty Crocker cookbook, it was only natural for me to expand my cooking skills to new horizons. When I got married and had kids I ventured deeper into the cooking world with more confidence and courage and at that point, I decided to make all of my entrees’ from scratch. Yes, I had the itch and I was determined to scratch it.
Now as we all know, there is great responsibility when you cross over to scratch cooking. The weekly planning, the grocery shopping, and the time it takes to prepare gourmet meals and extreme self discipline and dedication. But even with all that, scratch cooking always made me hungry for more, though I must admit that many times my scratch dinners left me with a bad taste in my mouth because of the constant whines and complaints from the kids. It never failed that if they didn’t like what they saw or what the name of the meal was they would say, “Can we just have chicken nuggets and fries instead?” This used to aggravate the hell out of me because I put my heart and soul into each meal. Many times my husband was a no show for dinner because four out of five nights he worked late. By the time he came home from work exhausted from the day his famous words to me were, “I’m not hungry.” Or, “I’m all set, I already ate.” So after many years of dealing with the constant complaints and the no shows, I decided to hang up my Julia Child apron and told everyone to go scratch my ass.
For awhile I went on strike and didn’t give a damn what I cooked and if anyone even ate at all. My days of scratch meals with fancy names that I made up to make the dinners exciting were nothing more than just fond memories that I truly missed. I’ll never forget when strike day 11 hit; I opened up a bottle of wine, flicked on the food network and prayed to Jesus that he save me from my scratch cooking blues. I was at my wits end, going through major withdrawals from not driving to the grocery store every other day and not to mention that I was literally getting sick and tired of eating Campbell’s soup, Swanson TV dinners, chicken nuggets, fries, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and frozen pizza.
As I sat back on the couch and rose my glass to the almighty, I said, “Jesus I can’t take this anymore, I’m bitchy and I’m bloated. This way of eating is not for me and my family, even though I can’t stand any of them right now. So can you please help me find a way to make a nice meal from scratch that doesn’t take hours to prepare? Now it would be greatly appreciated if you answer my prayer a.s.a.p. since I am the one that is feeding your people!” Just then I took a sip of my wine, looked at the TV and got the answer to my prayer, Rachael Ray 30 – Minute Meals. Yup, there she was; my angel and new BFF who gave me my mojo back. She taught me a new way of cooking that I called, “cook…but don’t cook.” Rachael gave me great insight to use my imagination and have fun by making up my own recipes, and that’s exactly what I did. I crossed over from my old world way of cooking everything “ala Leanne” style to my new world style, “Cook… but don’t cook.”
One afternoon while watching Rachael with my glass of wine, my son came home from work and said, “Wow it smells good in here, is dinner almost ready, I’m starving.” I said, “Quite down Sonny, I’m in cook therapy we’ll talk when my session is over.” When cook therapy was over I let Sonny have a taste. As I took the dinner out of the oven he said, “Wow, what do we have here, ‘chicken ala mother’?” I took a sip of my wine and said, “No it’s called, half-assed breaded chicken that will be served with mashed potatoes and exlax gravy.” As he cut a piece of the chicken and tasted it he said, “This half-assed chicken is delicious, this must have taken you all day.” I said, “Hell no, I don’t waste my time on you people like that anymore. Those days are long gone since I’ve started cook therapy.” Just then Sonny looked over on the counter and saw the crock pot and said, “I take it tomorrow night’s dinner is something in the crock pot.” “Yup, mystery dinner.” I said. And he said, “What’s it called?” Taking yet another sip of my wine I said, “Crock of shit.” And he said, “Well count me in, I love crock of shit.”
And so the story goes; eat well and laugh often; cook…but don’t cook. Great words to live by, Cheers!