Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Talk about Food, Shall We?

Guys, for the last few months, I've been without a kitchen.  That was hard.

I've never really been what you would call a "foodie," but I do love making delicious things to eat.  My culinary skills have always been much more focused on baking, though, than on actual cooking.  (I guess this relates to my taste in food?  I have an incessant sweet tooth.)

Baking has always been a stress-reliever to me.  There's something about stirring up a batch of something that will be warm and delicious that can't help but lighten your mood, you know?

In fact, if you walk into my house and find me pulling chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, you can almost be sure something has stressed me out that day.
But you can be just as assured that I'm not feeling stressed anymore.

On a different note, I've been plagued with headaches for years now and, finally, I've faced the reality that these headaches are most likely caused by an over-abundance of sugar in my diet.  You can imagine how upsetting that was to me, seeing that I love sweets in almost any form.

This summer, in order to test this theory, I decided to go completely without sweets for the entire three months.  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough self-control to go the whole summer without sugar, but I was even more reassured that sugar is in fact the culprit here.

So, that brings us to the present.  For the first time in months, I have my own kitchen.  I should be baking tons of things, right?
Wrong.  In fact, I've made the decision not to have any sweets in my house.  That doesn't mean I won't be eating dessert at all.  Let's not forget I work at a camp where chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls, and chess cake are available to me on a weekly basis.  I'm just helping myself a tad by making this resolution.  If it goes the way of my last resolution, it won't last even a month.  We'll see what happens.

All that to say now that I have a kitchen, I've decided not to bake sweet things, so it's time for me to be a big girl and actually start cooking.
Why does "cooking" sound so much more grown up and intimidating to me than "baking"?

Could it be that I claimed for years and years growing up that I would never handle raw meat?
(I was thoroughly convinced I never would.)
Could it be that, until two Thanksgivings ago, I'd never learned how to peel a potato?
(Unfortunately this is not a joke.  My Dad was shocked when he learned I didn't know what to do with the potato he handed to me.)
Could it be that I am terrified of food-bourne illnesses?
(Seriously.  I may lick the beaters every time, but I also get a phantom stomach ache every time.)

It could be any of these things, but I'm pretty sure it's just lack of constant experience in the kitchen.  I've spent so much of my life baking, that I've neglected the art of cooking.  I've read about it and followed recipes and done what my friends tell me to do in their kitchens and tasted things and made guesses like "maybe a little more pepper" or "some garlic would add a nice touch," but I've never really just branched out and cooked something for myself.

That, my friends, is what makes me so proud to announce to you today that I made lunch - not just a sandwich or a bowl of cereal - actual lunch.
Okay, so maybe it was a salad with some chicken on top, but I cooked chicken!
And you know what?
It was delicious.
So delicious, in fact, that I've decided to share my "recipe" with you.  You should all try it and tell me that I'm a genius in the realm of chicken-cooking.

First, since I'm still somewhat timid about handling raw meat and still definitely scared of undercooking it, I decided to follow the basic idea of one of my Grandmother's recipes, so I sauteed a chicken breast in 4 Tbsp of Tarragon Vinegar and 4 Tbsp Olive Oil. (Yes. I used specific amounts because I was afraid to mess it up.)  Then I put it in a glass baking dish, poured some Italian dressing over the top (That was my own idea!), and baked it for ten minutes at 375.
While it was baking, I pulled out some spinach and arugula for the greens, and sliced up a grapefruit.  Then, when the chicken was done, I cut it up and put it over the greens and grapefruit.
I'm telling you, it was soooooo good.  It didn't even need any dressing because the juice from the grapefruit was enough for the greens.

I just mixed grapefruit, Italian dressing and chicken.  That seems like a crazy idea, but I loved the way it turned out.  I am so excited about mixing up all sorts of flavors now!

This could be a really good thing or a really bad thing.  I guess we'll find out.
Maybe I'll start posting more kitchen adventures on here.
Can you tell I'm a little excited about my new skill?

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