Watch out Rachel Ray, Here I Come

This pic has to be photo-shopped. Can you trust a cook this skinny?

This pic has to be photo-shopped. Can you trust a cook this skinny?

Holly Homemaker I am not. Nor have I ever aspired to be. Until last year, I even considered myself cooking-challenged, the non-Domestic Diva. My skills in the kitchen were limited to making a bowl of cereal or a turkey sandwich. That was about it.

Siig was the cook in the family, but I did all the shopping and cleaning.  He only had a few, plain recipes up his sleeve, but at least he knew how to grill chicken and broil meat. I was clueless, as well as having little desire to learn. I blame it partly on my mom, whose idea of cooking was scrambling eggs or throwing a salad together. (OK, she also knew how to make a quiche and a souffle. I think that was it.) Most of my friends who are good cooks had been raised by mothers who passed on their love and knowledge of cooking. I don’t begrudge my mother, that’s just how it was. She did pass onto me other valuable lessons, like how to heat up frozen food in the microwave and order take-out.

But last summer, I realized it was time for me to step up to the plate. I couldn’t keep asking Siig to come home from a long day of landscaping and cook us a meal. So I started by cooking him dinner on his birthday, a simple chicken dish. “Hey,” I realized, “this isn’t too bad.  All I have to do is follow directions.” Now, directions I can do. I have always been a good student. So I started looking up recipes on the Internet. Soon I had a drawer full of printed-out recipes: Chicken Marsala, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Cordon Blue (notice a pattern here?), meatloaf (never thought I’d cook that!), pasta with smoked salmon. And you know what? We were actually eating better and more of a variety since I started cooking.

This week, I have to say, I have outdone myself. Not only did I successfully attempt my first Indian dish – Aloo Mutter – but I also made orzo for the first time with grilled rosemary chicken on top. Holy cow, who am I??? I have discovered a simple rule that makes cooking more appealing to me: as few ingredients as possible. Anything more than five or six and my eyes start to glaze over. So when I was in the grocery store yesterday and spotted Cooking Light’s “5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook,” I knew I had found my Bible.

I should have taken a picture of the “Grilled Chicken with Rosemary-Mustard Cream” atop “Orzo with Pine Nuts” that I served up last night. It was beautiful. But I was too busy eating to stop and find the camera.

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