Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooking Adventures

When I was first married, I was foolish enough to believe that I knew everything there was to know about everything. Things were going along, "ok," until we started having children. It is amazing how much you really don't know when you have children. One of my biggest problems was the lack of money and learning how to cook with nothing. I was suppose to feed my family of 4 on less than $150 every two weeks, and some pay periods were easier than others.

It was at this time I turned to my cook books especially my Betty Crocker red checkered cook book that I had purchased two years before. My mom worked full time and when she was home we would get special treats of her amazing cooking. I was a bratty kid and paid very little attention. So here I am starting on my own and having to cook from scratch.

Now there are many recipes from that cook book that I have never tried, but for me it started with pastries. Stephen isn't much a cake eater, but he loves pies. Now if you ask my mom she hates making home made pie crust, so I never really learned. Here I am the day of my husband's birthday and I haven't made him a pie. There was no money to go out and purchase a pie crust, and I was in a panic. I decide to pull out my cook book and see if it could possibly have a pie crust recipe.

So there I sit at my kitchen table with Blue's Clues playing in the back ground, pouring over a never opened before cook book. I do think I took the wrapper off though. Here I find a pie crust recipe. There were two, single and double. Since I was making a pecan pie I did know to make only a single crust. I pull out the ingredients and begin.

The first crust I made didn't work. I didn't let it rest after making it, and it tore apart while I rolled it out. My second crust I let it sit on the table but it still tore apart. I rolled it back up and put in the fridge to try later. After sitting on my couch cuddling with my babies and crying for about an hour, I got up and decided that I should try again to make this crust. As it turned out, that is exactly what the crust needed time to chill out. I rolled it out, put it in the pan and it worked.

Since then I have never purchased a pie crust, I think Stephen would have a fit if I did. This carried on to making my own biscuits, cakes and other expensive pastries. Did you know that pancakes don't have to come from a box? We learned that the hard way as well and haven't gone back since.

This leads me to today. Since the new year we have become a gluten free and processed sugar free family. For several months I was in a panic. I had trouble finding recipes. I spent way to much time online searching. I spent way to much money trying to make it work and wasted way to many tears. Not to mention how much tension it created in my house because of how much money was being spent and I had no idea what was for dinner each night still.

Now I have cookbooks, actually a full shelf of them, but none of them was giving me what I need. You see over time I have become addicted to a menu mailer. First it was from then I turned to because she was free. Once she started charging I stopped using her website. We were saving money, but we weren't eating a gluten free, sugar free diet with her. I had found a few gluten free menus mailers, but they were still expensive and none of them went so far as to be sugar free as well.

In my search to make my house run more smoothly and spending less money, I went back to Low and behold, Leanne had added gluten free to her menu. The menu wasn't gluten free, but she told you how to change it to make it gluten free. Also, Leanne is a great supporter of removing processed sugar from our diets. This was exactly what we needed. Yes it was going to cost me some money, but if it would bring peace to my family, continue to help my William recover from his autism, then the cost was worth it.

Here's the catch, Leanne makes me cook things and put things together that I never would have before. Last week we had Cuban Flank Steak with Mango Rice. We were suppose to steam asparagus, but instead we wrapped it in turkey bacon and cooked it on the griddle (This comes from a dear friend of mine who started my addiction to this at a potluck. Thanks Lori B).

It was a huge leap of faith from this traditional southern girl, but it has so been worth it. Stephen is so busy eating and enjoying not only the food but the left overs the next day for work. William is continuing on his recovery, completing his math assignments alone and even reading and spelling three letter words.

This has also reminded me of something else. When I first started trying to cook from scratch, I would look at a recipe and just know if it was something my family would like. Over time I lost this and just made what was easy and convenient. With the menu mailer I'm still doing this, but I'm given a variety of healthy recipes.

This has also brought back the tradition of using visitor as guinea pigs. It was a tradition of mine to try new recipes when people come over. We had two new recipes on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time I had ever made a Dulce de Leche cake, and it certainly won't be the last now.

I guess if you get anything from my ramblings it is this. Don't be afraid to try a new recipe as it may become the new family favorite. Don't be afraid to stick with traditions, because if you don't they will be lost and that would be a tragedy. Always trust your instincts when it comes to food. You know what your family likes. Lastly if you are in a cooking rut, do some research. There are some amazing cooks out there, who really don't mind sharing.

What is on your menu tonight?