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Cooking, My New Hobby

Since I stopped devouring books and using the computer much (because reading triggers migraines), I’ve been bored. I hate being bored.

Every hands-on craft I try causes wrist pain that I haven’t been able to conquer. Baking is fantastic, but consuming all that I make isn’t a smart dietary strategy. So I’ve decided cooking will be my new hobby.

Although deciding to do something I’ve never particularly liked for fun is a little weird, it makes a lot of sense. I’d love to have a hobby again. I like food, I need to eat, and eating better food would probably make me feel better.

By approaching cooking as a hobby instead of a chore, I hope it will be fun, not the high-pressure job of reforming my diet. Ideally cooking will become something I want to do, not have to do.

These are the guidelines I’ve established so I don’t exhaust myself. Is it contradictory to set goals for a hobby?

Use Simple Recipes
I’m currently taking Mark Bittman‘s (aka The Minimalist) no-nonsense approach: Make better food in less time with fewer ingredients. I’m starting small with his very short cookbook, How to Cook Everything: Quick Cooking. It isn’t an overwhelming tome, but a short introduction to tasty basic recipes. A perfect housewarming gift for someone in their first apartment, the book includes variations for the more experienced or adventurous cook. I’m supplementing with The Minimalist Cooks at Home for variety. (It’s out-of-print, but is available used.)

I’ve owned it for four years and have liked the few things I’ve made from his books. Now my plan is to approach it methodically. Like Julie and Julia, where blogger Julie Powell set out to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. The Minimalist’s goals are much less lofty, but the idea is the same.

Buy Ingredients for One Meal at a Time
This is to avoid wasting food and feeling like I’ve failed. I broke this “rule” one day into my plan. Because this is a new hobby, not a resolution, I’ve no need to beat myself up. Good things hobbies don’t have rules. Besides, I still think I can do it.

Learn New Techniques
This is the part that turns work into entertainment. I’ve always been reluctant to cook meat on the stove. In fact, I’m reluctant to cook meat at all. Not only do I get to produce an edible product (however bad it may be), I expand my skills and learn new recipes. This will make my hobby more fun in the future.

Tomorrow I’m taking the knife skills class I’ve wanted to take for years. It’s a morning class, so I’m confident I’ll make it this time. I’m already daydreaming about future classes.

Do It
I made my recipe plan yesterday morning, then Hart called to say he had a work dinner. I felt crappy, so it was fine, but my motivation is far weaker than 24 hours ago. I hope applying the techniques of the knife skills class will boost my overall motivation.

Clearly there’s little difference between my new hobby and a New Year’s resolution. Since resolutions usually fail, I’m relying on the power reframing. It’s an essential skill of every optimist.

I hope simple cooking will become a frequent topic on The Daily Headache. Nutrition and ease are some good topics for a headache blog.

Photo by Joe Zlomek.

6 Responses to Cooking, My New Hobby

  1. Karen says:

    Hi Kerrie,

    I think your new hobby is terrific. Even though you are not doing it as a headache help, I think you will find that it will help you. Taking the knife skills course is the perfect way to start. I took one several years ago as a birthday present to myself and it really made a difference in how I cook and shortened my prep time significantly.

    Personally, I love to cook and am totally self made. You will have failures at first, but I think your approach is good. Start simple, follow recipes and then later you can start tweaking recipes and finally you will be able to make up things on the fly.

    I too used to fear cooking meat. It took me years, but I finally learned how to make a perfect steak, a perfect pork tenderloin, etc. You can do it. Get a good cast iron skillet, a good roasting pan or two. Good tools are essential. Then keep it simple, good oils, fresh herbs and spices. Roasting meats is the easiest.

    Check out my recipes on herselfgluten-free.blogspot.com. They are all pretty simple and healthy. Good luck and good eating!

    Karen

  2. MaxJerz says:

    Kerrie, I think you’re taking a great approach to your new hobby! I had to completely reform my diet last year to cut down on Migraine and IBS triggers. Of course, DBF does 98% of our cooking, but we do many of the same things you’re trying – simple recipes, simple ingredients, and buy for only a meal or two at a time. We also cook double-batches of everything and freeze half into single-serving containers. That way, we have a stockpile of food I can eat on a day we don’t want to cook.

    Best of luck to you!

    Be well,
    MJ
    rhymeswithmigraine.blogspot.com

  3. Julie says:

    Kerrie,
    Great to see you posting! I used to be a great cook but am now too run down by the end of the day to do much. My husband is learning to cook now. I may get him a “Minimalist” cookbook as a gift.

    I’m sure you’ll learn to be a great cook!

  4. Dmitri says:

    Hello Kerrie,

    Cooking is one of the best hobbies in my opinion. And it is my hobby as well. It helps me take the stress of after a day at work and also good for the stomach. I think you would be interested to have a look on http://www.hobbything.com/ – hobby social network. You can create your photo albums about your cooking, post your recipes, tips, post videos, whatever interests you really, plus you can meet other like-minded people as well. You can have a look on my profile here:
    http://www.hobbything.com/hobbies_people/dmitri-kartashov/1.aspx

    All the best,

    Dmitri

  5. Bryony J says:

    I find soups a really great food to do; nutritionally they are fantastic, and they are simple. I also suffer nausea and vomitting alot and without being wierd it’s not so bad chucking up soup!
    Simple base, onion roughly chopped, cook slowly using a knob of butter or a little oil until almost transparent. Add 1 small/medium potato diced (this acts as a thickener) and then whatever veg or meat you want roughly chopped, add enough stock to easily cover your veg/meat (stock cube and water will do), cook until tender adding more water if required. Place into blender and blend until smooth (if you want some chunks put some of the veg to one side whilst you complete this process) then return to pan and season to taste, you can add some milk or cream at this stage for a “cream of” soup, if you do don’t allow it to boil again. This is only a basic recipe and is real fun to play with! I do all sorts from tomato, mushroom, broccoli, carrot and celery, or creamy parsnip to chicken and veg, all the same potato and onion base. You can make smaller portions by using less onion and potato but you can also freeze individual portions, just defrost in the fridge overnight.

  6. Megan Oltman says:

    Hi Kerrie –

    You make me smile with your goal-oriented-hobby-resolution! Nothing wrong with making a plan and going to it! I used to love to cook, but find I am too tired to think about it at the end of the day, and I’m also spoiled by having a husband who loves it more than I do. What I find is fun is to look through cooking magazines and cookbooks with pictures – usually my mouth will start watering and I’ll get inspired that way. Good luck. I hope to hear about some yummy meals to come!

    – Megan

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