How I learned to enjoy cooking

chocolateFour years ago, I moved from California to D.C. to pursue my Big Life Dream at the time. I rented a spacious, reasonably priced northern Virginia apartment with an acquaintance from a previous summer program, and things seemed to be going pretty well. Then one night, she took a phone call while we were watching a movie in the living room. She made the egregious mistake of putting the caller on speaker before first announcing there was an audience.

“So I got your text and wanted to talk to you about your roommate,” her sister said.

“I’m right here,” I said before she could go on and make the situation even more awkward than it already was.

“Yup,” my roommate replied sheepishly.

“Oh, just wanted to say she’s awesome!” the sister said.

Yeah yeah yeah. Later on, I asked my roommate why her sister felt the need to have a discussion about me. She’d meant for it to be a private conversation, but I didn’t want her harboring any bad thoughts about me.

“Well, it’s just about you not liking cooking or trying new things,” my roommate said.

A southern belle, my roommate lived to cook. She was great at it too. But I didn’t love the fact that she and her sister viewed my disdain for the kitchen as a major character flaw, let alone one for them to have such intense opinions about. It’s common to complain about roommates, but really? You’re going to trash talk me to your family because I don’t appreciate all the same things you do? Some people like to cook, some people like to eat, and some people merely eat to live. For the longest time, I ate to live, and it really bothered me that others felt they could pass judgment simply because I didn’t subscribe to an outdated notion that women should embrace cooking.

I was obviously pretty worked up about this, as I dedicated an entire blog post to my hatred of cooking at the time:

I cursed the kitchen all night long. If I have to get hurt somehow, I’d rather be in pain as a result of a rock climbing accident or something else I enjoy doing. But really, if I had to go to the hospital in the aftermath of cooking, which I loathe infinitely, I’d be livid for months on end and probably assume that karma was punishing me for despising the Betty Crocker lifestyle.

If I ever make lots of money, my first big purchase will be a cook because I absolutely cannot stand spending any time preparing food. I respect those who love doing this, but I find it rather dangerous, boring, and tedious. I’d rather be writing an article, talking to friends, doing yoga, practicing French, or interviewing a story source.

So, pots and pans of boiling water, you can all go to Hell.

Buzz off!
Buzz off!

OK, crazy!

Up until recently, I’ve only done the bare minimum in the kitchen. I lived off mac n’ cheese, both organic and Kraft, had Campbells’ soup at least twice a week, and occasionally made pasta. My excuse was that I needed to save money, but truthfully, I was too lazy to make an effort. I also disliked the reality that good cooking results from trial and error. I didn’t want to waste my time, money, and calories on something that might not work out. It was much better to go for what I knew: mac n’ cheese, soup, and spaghetti.

Life is different now. Given my chronic gastritis (which was likely provoked by excessive consumption of processed foods), I have to follow a healthy diet, and that means cooking must play a more significant role in my life. Aside from my health demands, I actually like cooking now, as it’s another opportunity for my boyfriend and I to try new stuff together.

For a while, we were so exhausted after long workdays that we only wanted to bake chicken patties and fake burgers for dinner, but we’ve had a lot of fun cooking over the past week or so. It keeps us busy, engaged, and attentive, and the finished product is always satisfying.

On Friday, we made steak and spinach, both of which I absolutely loved:

steak and spinach

The steak was perfect, but as we learned with the spinach, adding salt to the garlic and vinegar mix makes all the difference. The following night, we had leftovers and remembered to sprinkle salt onto the spinach, which was way tastier the second time around. That kind of trial and error I can handle. I guess it’s the disasters that intimidate me, but those come up in all areas of life. I just have to be ready to learn on the fly.

Next on our list is spaghetti and meatballs. I can’t totally abandon my love for pasta, but I can put some iron in the picture and hopefully rebuild my strength following last month’s health scare. When I get confident enough, I’ll attempt the pizza + egg combination, although tomatoes aren’t so good on my weakened esophagus. Just this once, all will be well:

pizza with egg

Video post: How I totally butchered Alfredo sauce

For the longest time, I wanted to avoid including video posts in my blog, as I sometimes feel news outlets and websites get  slack on writing and decide to just throw up video clips they didn’t even make to avoid doing any work. Readers, of course, have no interest in reading — they want it all fed to them. It’s tough for those of us who don’t think videos tell the full story.

But now that I’m finally transitioning into screenwriting (attending a workshop tonight, just finished applying to this, and am also going to start writing for a web series soon!), I need to be more open-minded about the types of things I put on my blog. Dan suggested I start a screenwriting/entertainment blog, and that’s definitely in the cards. Before I do that, I want to diversify my content, so I am going to start publishing YouTube videos to this blog.

I made my first video this afternoon as I waited for my soup to heat up. Sorry about all the hair flipping, clearly I have some nervous tics that need to go, but aside from that, I enjoyed making this video, which is all about my failed attempt at cooking Alfredo sauce. It was supposed to taste like Alfredo, but instead came out like gravy:

Ew
Ew

It could even pass for mashed potatoes — gross. I’m not nor will I ever be a cook, and if you want to listen to me rant about it for three minutes rather than read a long-winded, wordy case against the kitchen, watch my video below. Again, sorry if it disappoints — I’m not a YouTube expert like some of you folks.

What should I “vlog” about next? I’m thinking of sharing details on my screenwriting workshop, but if there’s anything else you’d like me to talk about, I’m taking suggestions. You guys are the video blog experts, NOT ME. Maybe someday I will be. I gotta say, it was liberating and energizing to complain about cooking for almost four minutes. This YouTube experiment might actually be cathartic — wish me luck.

My life, explained in an article

I’ve been a picky eater my entire life, much to the chagrin of my friends and family members, so I was nearly brought to tears when I stumbled upon a Fox News piece on the science of picky eating. As it turns out, there might be an actual disorder behind the “bad habit” of eating like a bird.

I couldn’t help but immediately identify with Bob Krause as I read this passage:

Krause likes peanut butter, crackers, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate milk and little else. More adventurous meals look like “a plate of barf,” he told LiveScience.

“If I could snap my fingers and change, I would,” he said, explaining his pickiness helped ruin two marriages, limited his career options and makes most social occasions sources of stress.

And this is exactly how I feel. Lots of foods smell or look like vomit, so my diet is highly limited. As the article states, picky eating can put a damper on social and professional lives, and there’s almost no way of getting around this.

“People who are picky aren’t doing this just to be stubborn,” said eating researcher Nancy Zucker of Duke University.

If only the rest of the world would understand this reality. None of us choose to live this way, we merely cannot physically stomach some of the food that’s put in front of us. It could be psychological, and I’m sure I’d scarf down some of the repulsive meals if I absolutely had no other food source, but I’d definitely get sick. It’s truly unfortunate that food has to play such a major role in our culture. I must say, I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only person with such an aversion to adventurous foods.

At war with the kitchen, in love with words

I’m sorry for the long hiatus, but you can rest assured knowing that all is well in my world.

On Wednesday, I began interning at an exciting 24-hour news website. I absolutely love the newsroom and staff members, and this gives me something to do while I job search. Who knows, this may even turn into a job (that’s what I’m hoping for). After all, some of the current reporters started off as summer interns, but let’s not get too excited yet.

Anyway, I’m the happiest I’ve been in four months. I realized this when I met up with my co-interns/co-workers on Friday night. It’s so nice to be around people again. Ever since I left Tucson in July, I’ve been kind of lonely, being that the majority of my college friends have either moved to other parts of the country or stayed in Arizona. I kind of got used to just doing my own thing, but it wasn’t very fun. As much as I adore my roommate Anna, I missed having group interaction. Whether or not this is a good thing, I thrive off social consistency and large groups.

I’m glad to be working around people who love new ideas and opinions, and the interns are all really smart. Some of the interns are recent grads like me and the others are college seniors. Everyone is nice and excited about their work.

It’s too bad I can’t bring the same kind of enthusiasm to the kitchen. As I’ve said before, I really, really, really hate cooking, mostly because it’s time consuming and I’d rather be doing something else. I can cook, I just resent it like crazy.

So, you can imagine the fury I experienced when I nearly got scalded the other night.

I got home from a night out with my co-workers and decided I wanted some pasta. Unfortunately, this ended up being a dangerous endeavor on my part.

Somehow, I dropped the pot of boiling noodles into my sink, sending a few droplets of water onto my face.

I wasn’t in pain, but I immediately ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water onto my cheeks and eyes.

Thankfully, my face wasn’t red and my vision was perfectly fine. I looked just like I did before, and I had no red marks or scratches of any kind. I was merely shaken up.

I’m lucky that my eye was fine and that I didn’t get any marks at all whatsoever on my face. The water wasn’t all that hot, I guess.

Even so, I cursed the kitchen all night long. If I have to get hurt somehow, I’d rather be in pain as a result of a rock climbing accident or something else I enjoy doing. But really, if I had to go to the hospital in the aftermath of cooking, which I loathe infinitely, I’d be livid for months on end and probably assume that karma was punishing me for despising the Betty Crocker lifestyle.

If I ever make lots of money, my first big purchase will be a cook because I absolutely cannot stand spending any time preparing food. I respect those who love doing this, but I find it rather dangerous, boring, and tedious. I’d rather be writing an article, talking to friends, doing yoga, practicing French, or interviewing a story source.

So, pots and pans of boiling water, you can all go to Hell.

Buzz off!

In two weeks, I’m going to a wedding. In 3.5 weeks, I’ll be at the UofA Homecoming, which I can’t stop thinking about. Except when I’m interning. Thank you, news site, for giving me something other than my former life to focus on. I finally feel like I’m moving on from college. Good riddance.

Me<we

There’s definite irony in simultaneously blogging, watching Julie and Julia, and allowing someone to cook for you.

That’s right. As I typed up my blog post on the 22 things I’ve learned by age 22, I occasionally glanced up at the TV screen and called out to my roommate, who was preparing chicken tacos in the kitchen.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the title, Julie and Julia is a film about Julie Powell’s former food blog and experiences trying to perfect all Julia Child’s French cooking masterpieces. The movie tells the story of a writer/cook. If you combine our talents, my roommate and I embody Julie Powell.

My roommate and I typically make dinner together, but I was far too engrossed in my blog to set down my laptop and make any meal contributions. Also, cooking isn’t exactly my forte, nor does it bring me the kind of pleasure that I find in writing.

Thankfully, she let me off the hook tonight, and I was still rewarded with delicious food:

As we continue searching for full-time work, we come to each other for moral support. I’ve found myself using the word “we” about 100 times a day, and it’s actually rather endearing to feel like I have a steady stone here in D.C.

When my roommate and I went to the Chi Omega networking event last week, everyone assumed I was married.

“How long have you and your husband been together?” asked one woman.

“Oh, I’m single,” I said, laughing.

“It just sounded like you were married because you keep saying ‘we moved here, we like living in northern Virginia.'”

With that, I explained that I was referring to my awesome roommate. I guess this is how married people talk!

As much as we love having endless conversations on politics, relationships, the world, college, and general news, we both agreed that it’s important to make more friends in the area. She encouraged me to talk to people in my yoga studio, although I’m still a bit too timid for that, and she plans on making friends in her dance class.

In time, new connections will develop. I’m not as worried about establishing friendships as I was at the start of freshman year at college. My former concern is pretty funny considering the fact that I had such a large pool of classmates to choose from back then. In the adult world, you have to make the extra effort to acquire new friends. Just picture Paul Rudd’s man dates in I Love You, Man, and you have me.

Venting strangers, cooking, sorority events

As I stepped out of the metro train at about 3:15 yesterday afternoon, I found myself walking alongside an older woman, who wore a ponytail and brown pantsuit.

After knocking on one of the train windows, she turned to me and said, “That lady in there made my day.”

“Really? How so?”

“Because my boss is a Satan incarnate.”

Instead of asking her to expand on “how” and “why” her manager was impossible to be around, I simply listened and offered my apologies. There’s nothing more frustrating than being told to “man up” when you just need someone to listen and say, “I’m sorry, that’s horrible.” Problem solving can wait.

“I watch the clock all day, and as soon as it hits 2:30, I get out. And now, I’m off to my other job, which I love.”

And then she was gone. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, it’s hard to have these sorts of discussions on the metro. For the most part, riders are too exhausted to engage in conversation. While I’m not a fan of small talk (i.e. “why did you decide to move to D.C? Why did you go to college in Arizona?), I always enjoy talking about the anxieties that keep other people awake at night.
This woman may despise her supervisor, but she still maintains a better attitude than the majority of unsatisfied employees. I admire anyone brave enough to vocalize and open up about their concerns. Ranting can be cathartic.

It’s unfortunate that so many people hate their bosses. Gradually, they’ll resent their job, and work will become a chore. I’m going to go ahead and make the same naïve vow as millions of other fresh-out-of-college job seekers, “I’m never going to be that way.” I’ll do whatever I can to avoid this fate, however. Why spend the majority of your life doing something that gives you stress-induced stomach pains?

That evening, my roommate and I went to a sorority networking gathering. She was a Chi Omega at an eastern school, so my roommate was hoping to meet some fellow Greeks in the D.C. area.

As soon as we arrived at the restaurant and began meeting the other women, I felt like a complete fraud. I could never be a con man or CIA agent because I can never lie about anything. I can’t even omit a lie.

I showed up to the sorority meeting because I didn’t want my roommate to attend the event all alone. Either way, she would have been fine by herself. She was on cloud nine the entire time. I think she really misses her sorority sisters, just as I miss my UA and Wildcat friends.

As it turned out, no one cared when I announced that I was not, in fact, a Chi Omega. I had some great conversations and made good work contacts. All of us really loved our college experiences, so we had that in common. More than anything, it’s nice to meet with a group again. I miss all the social opportunities of university life.

My roommate has taught me to cook, something I’ve never particularly cared for. It takes too much time, and who wants to be a slave to cuisine? There’s nothing more depressing to me than the thought of someone who only finds pleasure in food. But, I’ve recently learned that good eating habits make me much happier and more energized.

Last night, we had whole wheat pasta, marinara sauce, and hamburger meat for dinner.

I’m not crazy about whole wheat pasta, which is slightly more flavorful than sandpaper. For the health benefits, I’ll continue eating it under the condition that I drown it in salt and meat sauce.

So far, we’ve (yes, we) made salmon, chicken Alfredo, hamburgers, chicken, French toast, and macaroni for dinner. I never dine out, as the food is much tastier and more economical at our humble abode. As much as I miss my college days, when I spent a total of two evenings at home a week, it’s nice to wind down my day with a close friend and hearty meal.

The University of Arizona 2010-2011 school year commences in three days. I miss all my friends that have more classes to take, and I’m jealous of the new freshmen that have four years of pure adventure to look forward to. College is not a time to take for granted. While I’m relieved to be away from some of the shallower aspects of the university environment, I wish I could frequent all my favorite campus stores, hotspots, bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. I miss driving to campus at 8:15 to make my 9 a.m. class, stopping off at Canyon Café some mornings, and picking up the Wildcat and seeing my name on pages one and four. Those were the days!

Here’s to being thankful for blissful memories and somehow managing to surpass them with even better times.