Happy Veteran’s Day to you, my friends. Yet another day to be thankful to those who were generous enough to give their life so that we may live ours freely.
I feel a little guilty because I am not a Veteran and I have the day off, but my husband is working….hmm. But only a little guilty, because I will be spending the day catching up on housework and making Stuffed Pumpkin and Pumpkin Spice Bars to celebrate the day in the proper fashion….with food. Is there a holiday that we don’t celebrate with food? If there is, I don’t want any part of it.
I once thought it was terrible that our country’s holidays seemed to center around food, but then I got to know food. I realized that food isn’t the bad guy. Food is a wonderful expression of creativity that isn’t given enough attention. If we were to pay MORE attention to the quality of our food and the way it is prepared we would be happy, healthy people. When was the last time you REALLY enjoyed your food, I mean you sat, tasted, talked and went “mmmmm mmmmm ya’ll” like Paula Deen because your food tasted good and you felt good about eating it?
I wish I could say I did that all the time, but the truth is our lives are busy; I eat my breakfast at 5:30 am, I get a 20 minute lunch break, eat on the way to the gym, on the way home from the gym, and am usually too tired to finish my vegetables at dinner. Where in the course of our day is there time for “mmmm mmmm ya’ll”???? Well, ya’ll, we’ve got to make time! Maybe it’s Saturday night dinner or Sunday afternoon lunch when we have a little extra time to prepare and love on our food, pick a meal to look forward to and make it a family affair.
Fortunately, I am one of those creatures who LOVES to cook. I went through a Julia Child phase where I spent 2 or 3 hours every night following her detailed recipes (to the best of my abilities) to make a beautiful French dinner. Needless to say, we haven’t eaten French food since the 4th of July when my phase officially ended, but I had a lot of fun while it lasted. I love to spend Saturday and Sunday, all day if possible, preparing my fruits and veggies for the week and making marinara sauce or homemade applesauce, and anything else to get us through the next 5 days. I do realize, though, not everyone likes to do that. In fact, I hear there are people out there who hate to cook?!? That’s okay, we all have our quirks–I avoid laundry like it’s the Plague. 🙂
So, if you’re a hater of cooking, fear not, there are ways to make it as painless as possible. Luckily, the things that are good for you are often the most simple to prepare. If you can drizzle something with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and put it in a baking dish, then you can a Roasting Rockstar! If you have a crock pot and 10 minutes to spare in the morning, then you can be the Crock Pot Conqueror! Believe it or not, it is just as easy to roast chicken thighs or breast as it is to bake chicken nuggets. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out how chicken nuggets are made, that is a research project you need to do, ASAP). It is actually EASIER to steam vegetables than make rice….I made rice once and it was a disaster, I think I’ll stick to broccoli. And pasta? Ha! I’d have more noodles on the wall than in my pan–“Isn’t this stuff DONE already?” I’ll take the spinach, please.
You may think things like pasta, rice, and chicken nuggets are a breeze to make because that’s what you’re comfortable with. If you step outside of your comfort zone for a little bit and try some new things, you’ll become comfortable and find that they really are a breeze! After you roast your first chicken, you’ll feel like a gourmet chef and your family will never know that it was easier than Hamburger Helper!
For directions on some simple meals you can visit the “Weekly Meal Plan” section, or just try a simple oven roasting method: Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes for meats and 10-15 minutes for vegetables, at 350 degrees for meat and 400 degrees for vegetables. Try this method with chicken thighs, breasts, wings, pork chops, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, red or green peppers, zucchini, or tomatoes. Remember, it’s an OVERALL guideline, not an exact recipe, so check your meat and vegetables by seeing how crispy they are or making sure there’s no pink in your meat before you take it out of the oven.
So, all of you new cooks and seasoned chefs, go get lovin’ on your food and make sure you make time for an “mmmm mmmm ya’ll!”