Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Easing our way into the new year

The first few days of 2010 were such a relaxing and refreshing time for us! Both David and I had the entire week off between Christmas and New Year's, so we took advantage of the downtime and really got to enjoy just spending time together. No demands on our time, no work obligations -- just time together reading, cleaning, cooking, and whatever we wanted to do. It was so much fun!

We also finally got ourselves on a good cooking routine. Generally speaking, I love to cook. But my old M.O. was dominated by over-achieving perfectionism -- I needed to make sure I was cooking the best version of whatever recipe I was trying, all from scratch, using the best ingredients, etc. Making a beef stew? I'd get a good chuck roast and cut the beef myself. Roasted carrots with thyme? I'm plucking the thyme leaves by hand off the fresh stems. Spaghetti and meatballs? You better believe I'm mixing the ground beef (sometimes with a mix of ground veal and/or pork) into the best possible meatballs myself, then searing them, then adding them to a homemade tomato sauce.

So yeah. Cooking a meal usually meant at least an hour or two of prep time -- which meant that I only cooked for big company meals. The rest of the time, we ate takeout. The guys at Teriyaki Boy know us and have our usual orders done by the time we get to our turn to order...

But last week, we finally broke the cycle! Inspired in part by the blogs and Facebook statuses of my young mom friends, I decided it was high time to start building an arsenal of simple and fast recipes. Spaghetti and meatballs (which, incidentally, is one of David's favorite meals) using jarred tomato sauce, frozen meatballs, and pasta -- ready to eat in 25 minutes! We also discovered that using the packaged "stew beef" from the meat counter resulted in a beef stew that was just as good as the one made with the roast I painstakingly cut up myself. And frozen broccoli cuts (with the convenient microwavable steam-in-bag technology), plus the simple addition of a little grated cheddar cheese, makes for a great and healthy side dish for a frozen pizza dinner!

And I'm pleased to announce that we've continued in this cooking at home pattern! This may sound so silly, but it's a big deal for us. It's one more little step towards being proper grown-ups, in preparation for the transition to parenthood...

So we kicked off 2010 with a nice burst of domesticity. And reading for pleasure, and sleeping in -- but hopefully at least the domesticity will stick after the baby is born. :)