Feb 162009

Something wonderful and terrible happened all at once: Henry got a second job. He starts today, at 3 and won’t be home until 11. This is awesome because hello, we need the money; but it’s tragic because it means I have to cook dinner for Chooch and myself EVERY NIGHT NOW.

I don’t know how to cook, remember? Not only that, but I don’t LIKE to cook.

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I told Henry, “Son, you better do like all those good working mommies do and start freezing some shit.” So last night, he toiled away over a big cauldron and before I knew it, the fridge was stocked with small plastic containers of soup. “This should get you through until at least Wednesday,” he said, and I could tell by the way his voice was strained that he’s worried about this too, like he’s going to come home one night and find Chooch and I in an emaciated heap by the corner, being pissed on by cats mistaking us for rugs.

“I’ll freeze some spaghetti sauce, too,” he said on second thought, coming back from whatever faraway vision of horror he was screening.

When he came home from his first job today, he was in the kitchen stocking up the salad bowl for me. I came up behind him, gave him a desperate hug and whispered, “It’s like, the end of an era.”

“WHAT era?” he asked. The era of home-cooked meals, Henry.

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The era of not having to touch the stove, ever.

Oh my shit, I’m going to miss that fucking man.

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I can make cheese sandwiches (not grilled cheeses, though; that’s one step up from the three-year-old skill level I currently maintain), sometimes pasta but that’s pretty inconsistent, mac n cheese but Henry worries about the nutritional value when I get “creative” with it, and scrambled eggs but Henry worries that I will poison Chooch. I feel like there’s something else I can make but I can’t think.


  1. anything that can be cooked in the microwave
  2. anything that can be toasted
  3. anything that is ready to serve straight from a box
  4. anything that doesn’t require SLICING
  5. take out, though I’ve been known to fuck that up too on occasion

So, what I’m asking is for good, nutritionous and EASY (read: Erin-proof) recipes that I can confidently prepare for Chooch and myself. I don’t eat meat so I don’t know how to cook that shit. Please help.

And if anyone local feels like showing up on my doorstep with a crock pot full of vegetables, hope, and a grandmother’s love, I might be inclined to invite you in.

  27 Responses to “TIMES, THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’ (Now, Get Me a Noose)”

  1. You need a crock pot.

    You can throw whatever you want in them, pour in enough water to cover it, and then just turn it on and let it sit for a few hours. I swear they are magic because no matter what you throw in there it comes out delicious.

    We make lots of veggie chili in ours. Chris is the cook though, so I cant tell you any recipes. Im just all sorts of no help!

  2. OMG! I am so excited. I was seriously worried about you being homeless. I don’t think it would look good on you at all.

    So, I’m a pretty hopeless cook too, but there are lots of really simple things you can learn to do. I promise you can steam broccoli. You can cook spinach. You can microwave Morningstar Farms fake sausage. You can throw a Trader Joe’s spinach pizza in the oven for 12 minutes. If you want me to tell you exactly how I do any of these things I’d be happy to oblige. But I am not a cook, and I do not have recipes to share. I am even hopeless at crockpot cooking, so far. I’ll be watching this post for ideas. :)

    • Thanks, Lisa! It wa sa relief that he got this job, but I still have to try and find something fast, because it’s not fair to poor Henry (there, I admit it – I kind of care about him!).

      Everyone seems to be suggesting the mighty crockpot! We don’t have one, but now I want it.

      (I love fake sausage, btw!)

  3. Good luck dude. I’d be screwed in the same fashion. When I lived alone, I was lucky enough to have a pretty cheap pizza place across the street. Plus the hot dude that owned it gave me free food from time to time (probably moreso because he felt bad for me always ordering food for one, and not because he thought I was hot). This however did cause me to gain a few unpretty pounds, eating there basically daily.

    I’m not of much help. I can make hamburger helper, but you don’t like meats. :-/

    • So you know then! Pre-Henry, I lived off of pizza, rice and ketchup, and TGIFriday’s/ bar food. He has spoiled me for the past 8 years with homemade food and fresh produce and I’m freaking out. Recipes are scary!

  4. Totally get a crock pot and some Mrs. Dash spices. That way you can toss in some beans & rice, veggies and a little Mrs. Dash to have a ready to eat meal. No messing about with seasonings or the stove so nothing to mess up.

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  5. like couscous? it is incredibly easy to make (and good for you!) and if you have a kettle you dont need to touch the stove!
    you can make it in the bowls you serve it in so theres less mess

    here is what you do:

    -get you some couscous and vegetable bouillon cubes (henry will know if you already dont)
    -use leftover vegetables or steam/cook some in the microwave
    -serving wise, couscous is easier to figure out than rice or even pasta. Measure out 1/2cup couscous (1/2 bouillon cube) for a full bowl of it, or 1/4cup (1/4 cube) for half bowl (so basically 1/2cup for full meal, 1/4 cup as a side or for chooch)

    1. chop your cooked vegetables into tiny pieces – broccoli, mushrooms, and carrots go great with couscous but every vegetable works, really. except for potatoes and leafy ones like spinach.
    2. put your couscous and bouillon cube in a bowl
    3. boil water
    4. pour boiling water over it, covering it completely (with a liiiittle extra water – the couscous should be covered but the water should cover it by a few millimeters)
    5. stir couscous with a fork until its well mixed and the bouillon has dissolved a bit
    6. cover the bowl with a plate or potlid or something so the steam doesnt escape
    7. wait 5 min
    8. uncover the bowls and your couscous is cooked. stir it again with the fork so it breaks up
    9. add your chopped veggies and stir again

    woo! done!
    its a lot easier when you actually do it.

    i’ll try and think of a few more

    • I DO like me some couscous. And that sounds like I could handle it.

      THANK YOU!

      Also, your Valentinr thingie made my fucking day. <3!!

      • lol can you copy and paste it or something? I totally forgot what I wrote

        also, I forgot to mention that you should crumble the bouillon into the couscous before you add water.

        I also remembered that hummus is fairly easy to make. As well as veggies and dip.

        If you and chooch like tomatoes, you can always do it up southern-italy style and make some tomato salad

        there is also pasta salad which you can make the night before (and use a cheese grater to cut the vegetables)

        can I ask why you’re scared of cooking?


          My favorite was that Ryan’s last name is DOYOULIKEPINKFLAMINGOS. Seriously made me LOL!

          So the cooking thing, it’s not that I’m scared of it, though I have had quite a few close calls. It’s just that I genuinely don’t enjoy it. It’s a chore. I admire people who can follow a recipe. But for me, it’s like a word problem: numbers and words in the same sentence???

          However for Chooch’s (and my waistline’s) sake, I am going to try super hard to do this shit right, whether I enjoy it or not. So thank you for the tips!

  6. I’m a fan of those frozen pasta thingies… Bertolli? You put it in a dish and microwave it for five minutes an stir. Should be enough for you and Chooch for dinner. I’m pretty hopeless to feeding myself too- I resort too quickly to fast food and frozen stuff.

  7. I’m taking crepes are out? Because they’re easy as hell to make and you can fill them with just about anything in the world, both savoury and sweet. You could have Henry whip up a batch (they freeze nicely) and then you can fill them with things like cheese, veggies, etc.

    I second the crockpot, it’s out of this world for easy meals. I do know only meat recipes for it, though. Oh, and cous cous is easy as hell to make. Invest in a crockpot and invest in a rice steamer. Best thing I ever got; I can’t make even Boil in a Bag rice well.

    Stock up on taco shells. You can buy lettuce/salad/veggies precut and shredded cheese. Add beans and you have a great dish.

    The crepes and tacos are fun for Chooch, too, because it makes him feel like a big guy to help assemble them, or “make” his own.

    Go easy on the prepared/processed foods; there’s hella salt in them and some still have MSG. Not good for you or the kid.

    • Crepes! That’s a good idea. In fact, all your ideas are good ones.

      I’m totally not a fan of frozen stuff. Especially not after I’m so used to Henry making actual meals using produce, which is something that I would have never dreamt of bringing in this house pre-Henry.

      I really, really like the crepe idea, actually.

  8. No recipes, sorry, but I can imagine your pain. I can barely survive the one or two nights a week when Tery goes to the bar instead of cooking for me. The crockpot suggestion sounds good, though, really hard to screw those meals up. Good luck!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you understand this horror. It’s like, “Hello, not all women can/like to cook!”

      I was afraid that when I posted this, people would think I was kidding, so I’m glad I got actual advice. I’m anxious to get a crock pot now!

  9. last night, before i had even read this post, i dreamed about you and your fam, and that emily (haha, remember when you called him that all the time? in my dream that’s all you’d call him) had gotten a second job and for some reason i had to babysit your kid. there was a lot more to the dream but i don’t recall it. my brain’s been a bit off lately.

  10. I used to be the same way. Couldn’t cook, didn’t want to learn how. Then I joined a dining coop at college and basically had the choice to either do dishes all the time or try being an assistant cook on a meal. And it had to be KOSHER (something I never kept growing up). Having to get a meal ready once a week for 40 people with a lot of yelling and plates and pots and pans that couldn’t touch eachother and a blind rabbi getting cranky (food was VERY important to him) will teach you FAST.

    BUT! Short of throwing you into the fire, I can tell you a few tricks for easy and delicious sustenance :
    1) Turn oven on to around 400 degrees. 350 is ok, too, but it goes faster at 400. It’s hard to screw this up too badly, since people never agree what makes the “best” potato and you’re just looking for non-poison.
    2) Take potato, sweet potato, yam, or beet (yes, beets are delicious this way) and wash it. If it has a stem (ie beet) or anything growing out of it, cut that off. Then (VERY IMPORTANT) stab it like 4 times with a fork. It’s very cathartic and makes sure the thing doesn’t explode. Repeat for as many things as you want to bake.
    3) ::OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED:: Rub a little oil or butter on potatoes and/or beets. Olive oil tastes best. Vegetable/canola oil is fine. If you get the PAM olive oil spray, that might be easier for you, since you just have to spray them. Otherwise, put the potato on a square of aluminum foil, pour a tiny bit of the oil on top of the potato, and just use your fingers to rub it around. There are daintier ways of doing it, but that’s the easiest and if you don’t mind getting your fingers dirty and don’t want to deal with brushes or extra dishes or any of that, I like the finger squish. Same idea with a pat of butter. Butter may taste better on a sweet potato, especially if you’re going to brown sugar the hell out of it later.
    4) ::STILL OPTIONAL:: Sprinkle with salt.
    5) ::STILL OPTIONAL, UNLESS YOU GREASED THE THING UP, THEN YOU KIND OF NEED TO DO THIS:: Wrap (sweet) potato or beet in aluminum foil. single layer. doesn’t have to be perfect.
    6) stick potato(es) and/or beets in oven. About 45 minutes.
    7) Check on it. Take a fork. Stab potato/beet. For (sweet) potatoes, they should feel soft, like a baked potato. For the beets, you should be able to stick the fork in and they will probably look like they’re bleeding. Very satisfying. If they (beets or potatoes) are still too hard, back in the oven. Try again about every 10 minutes or so. Beets aren’t bad underdone. Potatoes are.
    8) Beets can be eaten plain, with salt, and/or a little butter. I like them and I’m not a vegetable person. Beware: they stain, but they’re such a pretty color! Potatoes should be slathered in as much butter as you can justify eating, plus all the other things you like to stick on a potato like sour cream and cheese and bacon bits and such. Unless you want to be “healthy,” in which case I recommend buying Emeril’s Original Essence and low fat sour cream. Sweet potatoes also deserve to be slathered in butter, but brown sugar is key to making these beyond delicious.

    Don’t forget to turn the oven off when you’re done, don’t eat the aluminum foil, and you will feel like such a friggin’ chef. They’re cheap, delicious, nutritious, filling, and hard to mess up more than once.

    Best of luck, and let me know if you want more recipes like this, since I can think of a few.

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    • Dude, thank you! Especially thank you for labeling the important steps, because when you’re dealing with me, that is definitely necessary!

      I love baked potatoes but the few times I tried making them on my own, they turned out dry. I will definitely follow these instructions and try it again. Plus, I’ve never had a baked beet and now I’m intrigued.

      Thank you so much, Jill!

  11. I’m still learning how to cook myself, so I’m of no help. But yeah, I hundredth the crock pot. My sister didn’t even like to cook either but she uses her crock pot more than anything!

    P.S. If you ever want Liz and I to come over and show you how to cook, let us know. =)

  12. Vodka, cheese, and ketchup.

  13. I reiterate the Crockpot idea. If you’re okay with opening up cans, you can make chili and have it simmer all day. (I put ground beef in mine, but you can easily omit that).

    I like mine with red kidney beans, black beans, corn, pinto beans (but you can use most any other beans you like), some tomato paste (with the cans of water) and some chili powder or the packets of “chili mix” from the supermarket. Also, canned diced tomatoes. If you want it spicy, put some Rotel tomatoes that have the jalapeno pieces in there. Stick all that stuff in together in the afternoon and let it simmer on low for a few hours and you’re good to go. Eat with tortilla chips or oyster crackers. :)

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