Notice the title did not say “Issues” this time. That means this time my cooking adventure went very well. If you recall, several posts back I wrote about the difficulties I had making hamburger helper, burning the label off the bottom of the skillet, not having milk, and learning that thawing meat should be kept in some container, rather than allowing it to swim freely in the crisper drawer of the fridge, especially when the fridge door doesn’t open wide enough to allow the drawer to be removed for cleaning. Still kinda gory in there.
Last weekend I cooked several meals, at once. I realize that for anyone who has seen me in the kitchen, the mere idea of me cooking anything beyond a spam sandwich is difficult to comprehend. If it wasn’t cooked on a grill or in the microwave, you could be pretty sure I didn’t prepare it. Well now, wouldn’t you be proud of me if you were hiding in my apartment (kind of difficult since there are not many cubbies to hide in) and saw me prepare no fewer than four meals? Yes, that’s right. Four. Quatro. Between 3 and 5.
I did and the most amazing thing was that they were good. Yes, really.
I first fixed Chicken Helper Alfredo. Now, before you start ridiculing me for cooking out of a box, please realize this is HUGE for me. I actually had milk to use this time and it really made quite a difference. I fixed it just like it said and wouldn’t you know that it was edible?
The complexity increases. I then decided I would try to make pasta. No not from scratch. I opened a box of noodles, dumped them into a pot of boiling water, and let them cook till they were perfect. Again, for an experienced cook, no big deal, but for me, this was another milestone. Once or twice the water wanted to boil over, but i stopped it in time and i didn’t burn the water or the pasta. I eventually added some tomato vodka sauce and it is still serving me well this week, a little each day.
To make the scenario that much more impressive, I was doing this simultaneously. But wait, there’s more! I then decided I would cook some Bertolli’s pasta, which requires the oven. Duh Duh DUh! I have seen this done but had never ventured into the world of oven cooking before by myself. I successfully preheated and set the oven to the correct temperature. This was a bit of a challenge at first since it was the first time I tried the oven in this apartment and the controls were a little different than the oven I walked by for several years before moving. I put the frozen pasta into a casserole dish and put in the oven, as the directions said, set the timer so I wouldn’t burn it, and went to work on the final dish. By the way, when the timer went off I added the cheese as I was supposed to and then added more time. Recipes on boxes and packages are really awesome to be so detailed.
The last bit of cooking was actually a bit of heating. Part of the food that came with me when I moved was a frozen chicken stuffed with dressing and other goodies. Luckily, the plastic bag it came in told me what the cooking temp and duration should be. I actually put it in before the Bertoli since it took longer to cook. So, believe it or not, I managed four dishes cooking simultaneously!!!! I was so pumped!!!! What is even more amazing is that they all tasted good. I know because I had some of each when I was done. I also have been snacking on them all week and none have made me ill yet.
So, I stand before you humbled but proud that I was able to tackle not 1 but 4 meals at one time. I realize its not like “real cooking” where I have to skin the bird and stuff it with homemade dressing, make the pasta and the filling, and create a wonderful dish completely from scratch. However, for me it was quite a triumph. I have a little A D D, so to watch the clock, monitor the temperature, check two pots on the stove and two dishes in the oven, while balancing two stirring spoons in hand and attempting to keep the sweat from my forehead from dropping into the dishes for seasoning, was really quite a feat.
There I was, dancing a rhythmic set of moves to keep the meals coming along. Turning knobs, stirring pasta, adding water to keep sauces it from thickening, and checking the stuffed chicken to make sure no botulism or salmonella bugs were readying for an attack. Sure that there were none, I proceeded to cook away and I must say, I was pleased. “Amazed” is probably the term better suited for the reactions I received from my friends when they heard the story.
You know what? Let them stand amazed, for I am Bagman, novice chef and recipe reader. Hopefully to soon become “The Amazing Bagman”, able to create without recipes and modify at will, based on a whim and a hunch. For now, however, I need to keep Hamburger Helper and Betty Crocker’s cookbook within arm’s length. Thanksgiving is coming up but rest assured that the Butterball Hotline will receive no calls from yours truly. I hope to be eating some home cooked goodness from someone who knows how to cook without recipes and makes meals to remember. In case you missed it, that would NOT be me.