Cooking with a health nut.

It is not easy!

So significant other loves to cook with someone.  He is a terrific cook, which is great for me, but up until lately I have just let him do all the cooking.  This is for a couple of reasons.  First, I grew up cooking meat, and he has been vegetarian (though sometimes eating salmon) for years.  I buy whatever is cheapest at the store whereas he buys whatever is healthiest at the store.  There are a lot of things that I have no trouble eating which he wouldn’t dream of putting in his body.  Early attempts at baking treats for him resulted in his worry over if I used shortning or not.  No amount of denial of the use of shortning seemed to help.  Also, the white sugar he didn’t want to eat and so on.  Due to these factors, I just didn’t attempt to cook while partaking in all the wonderful foods which he would cook for me.  I am telling you,  I have never eaten better, fresh healthy foods seasoned with olive oils and fresh herbs out of his treasured garden.  Surprising how quickly really good food turns into comfort food even if you haven’t grown up with these tastes.

So his logical conclusion after my refusal to cook is that I am not a good cook or that I can’t cook.  This is not entirely true.  I do enjoy cooking, but I prefer to do it when I am not rushed or harried or harassed.  I prefer to do it alone and without a child standing on my toes.   I took much pride and got much enjoyment out of cooking when I was a stay at home mom.  Now it isn’t the same.  I come home with about 2 hours to spend with my precious child and if I spend all of it cooking and cleaning up, I feel like I have missed out.  So cooking is saved for Sundays or days where we have extra time.

But recently I have been hearing “Maybe you are going to learn to cook italian food.”  “I really like italian food.”  “Sweetie, when are you going to cook some delicious italian food?”  I was gifted an italian cookbook.  I hear that pasta is “NICE!” and Risotto is “NICE!”  I hear that he thinks he cannot cook these things at all but buying them at an italian restaurant makes him upset as he feels that we could do better at home.

So I endeavor to cook italian food.  I pick a recipe from my book, and make a list of ingredients.  Then I hear “recipes are just suggestions, maybe you want to add some of this, and some of that.”  I respond with “Now who is doing the cooking here?”  but I get what I want from the garden and decide to experiment.   Meanwhile I have someone standing over me watching what I do, which just makes me nervous!  “OUT!  OUT of the kitchen!” I say and off he goes to mow the lawn so I can cook in peace.  So I finish cooking my pasta, serve it nicely on plates, and go to call him in from his lawn.  No dice, he wants the lawn done first.  So now we are going to eat cold pasta?  No biggy.  Finally lawn is done and now I have the kitchen cleaned so we sit down to eat.  Well let me tell you, the pay off was worth the wait!  That man was SOOOO happy with his italian!  (Yeah ok it was pretty good!)  “Maybe you do know what you are doing!” is the comment I get.

Fast forward to this weekend where I endeavor to make risotto for the first time in my life.  I run into a few problems.  First off, all recipes for risotto I see call for chicken stock and wine.  Well, chicken is not going to work so I figure I will substitute vegetable stock.  Wine is out because he will never drink alcohol, even though the alcohol cooks off.  So I figure I had best have additional vegetable stock.  I figure I want to add onions, zucchini, roasted pine nuts, basil, garlic, and add fresh tomatoes and Parmesan cheese at the very end.   So we head to the store and I find vegetable stock.  It is a no go, as it has corn syrup and corn syrup is on the big bad list of “things we do not eat.”  Ok, so let’s check the organic section, maybe there is something more within the limits there.  Indeed, vegetable boullion.  This also contains corn syrup, but at a more reasonable level so I get away with it.  Back home to cook the food.  I sautee the onions and zucchini.  I add the rice to sautee.  I hear “I think you didn’t cook the zucchini enough sweetie, it is going to still be hard when the rice is done.”  To which I respond “There is at LEAST 20 minutes more cooking time to this, surely the zucchini will soften before then!”  “No no, I think I need to teach you some things about cooking vegetables.”  Well, that has earned him a big fat “get out of the kitchen” to which he responds with the lawnmower again.  I do tell him that if I say the food is done, he must stop what he is doing and come eat, as I don’t want to eat cold risotto.  So I finish up the risotto, which has turned out quite nicely in my opinion, (zucchini was perfectly soft) and got that served as well as the baba ghanoush he had made beforehand.  There was a lot of risotto as prior complaint was that I hadn’t made enough pasta.  He eats the risotto and I eat the baba ghanoush (sooo good!).  I don’t think I have ever seen him eat that much.  And even once the plate was clean, I catch him at the stove STILL eating at the risotto.  I think I made another hit!  But from now on, rule is, unless he is also cooking, he needs to stay out of the kitchen since everything I have made has turned out just fine even with him fussing over things.