Food: Adventures in Cooking
Lately, the novelty of being able to eat out all the time has been wearing thin. There's nothing like downing some greasy avian protein from the Colonel and then feeling sick for the rest of the day to inspire you to unpack the old pots and pans at home. I'm a fairly inexperienced cook, mostly because I seldom helped out Mom in the kitchen when I was a kid.
So, I went out and bought a cookbook - Rachel Ray Express Lane Meals, part of the now-famous "30-Minute Meals" brand. Ray herself has become a pop culture magnate like Martha or Oprah, but thankfully, her cooking advice remains as down-to-earth as ever. And while the recipes in the book do feature some shortcuts (using canned tomatoes and chicken broth instead of making it from scratch), by and large, this is real cooking, not dressed-up premade food.
The only real way to evaluate a cookbook is to try out the recipes, and I tried making chicken with apple and mushroom sauce, along with boiled asparagus. I overcooked the chicken (better safe than sorry) and the asparagus (pencil-thin asparagus cooks fast), but the sauce came out great and I'd definitely try cooking the recipe again. It's a tasty way to dress up some chicken breasts if you happen to have a spare apple and some mushrooms lying around the fridge.
How long did it take, and how much did it cost? Surprisingly enough, even with my inept kitchen skills, I whipped the whole thing up in about 50 minutes (in order to get to 30 minutes, you have to multitask like a madman). All told, I spent maybe $12 on the ingredients, and it was enough for 4 servings (assuming you serve it with some carbs, like crusty bread or steamed rice). All in all, it was fun, and I hope to cook more often in the future.