But my friends, thanks in large part to Jillian Michaels' book called Master Your Metabolism, I have a new aversion: Food that is chemically bastardized beyond all nurtitional recognition. It's been interesting to learn about hormonal functions and the metabolic process—and even more unsettling to learn what we put our bodies through when they try and make sense of all the processed junk we eat, stuff that our bodies are not at all designed to process.
[MID-POST DISCLAIMER: Relax... I'm not going to lecture anyone about their Cheetos and Diet Coke. And I still fantasize about eating a giant bowl of Cocoa Puffs while I'm watching Project Runway; therefore, I have no high horse to ride, nor am I in a position to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't eat. I'm simply sharing this little epiphany I've had... so by all means, have another Twinkie and continue reading.]
When it comes to food, Jillian's general rule is: If it didn't grow from the ground or if it doesn't have a mother, don't eat it. These days I'm pretty much following that rule and eating "clean" food—meaning whole, real food minus the preservatives and chemical yuckiness. But, because I love food too much and couldn't have it any other way, my clean food has to be tasty, too.
All of this to say that... hope my parents and siblings are sitting down... I've started cooking. Real food. FROM SCRATCH. Not every single day... but at this point, more days than not.
In the past few weeks I have purchased new mixing and prep bowls, a few other pieces of cookware and a couple new knives, along with two kinds of cooking wine and at least 10 bottles of spices I'd never heard of before. (So is Cumin pronounced KOO'-min, or Q-min?? Somebody please give me a ruling on this.)
I've also been holding nightly seances to channel Betty Crocker. I made a Ouiga board out of a cookie sheet, using a tiny spatula as a pointer... and I sit in front of it chanting recipes out loud, wearing an apron and oven mitts. And let me tell ya, Bets has been... uh, rising... to the ocassion.
Don't believe me? Here's proof: Wednesday night I made the most amazing Chicken Parmigiana, recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. (She's wonderful... for the love of all that is good and holy, you MUST check her out.)
Here I am sprinkling fresh parsley onto my masterpiece. (Candie, I didn't see fresh thyme in the produce section... so, alas, I still can't find the thyme.)
Look at that succulent piece of chicken, simmering in scrumptious marinara sauce and blanketed with freshly shaved parmesan cheese...
does it get better than that? No, I'm afraid not.
I wish I had prettier plates because, holy cannoli, that's a fine-looking meal!
How are the guys responding to my culinary awakening?
They are absolutely beside themselves with joy.
(Dave looks ready to come at me with that knife if I don't stop taking pictures and let him eat.)
Come to mama!
Even Dingo slurped up a little bit of sauce!
(And then proceeded to emit clouds of noxious gas all night long... so that turned out to be a bad idea.)
This recipe was five-star FABULOUS! We all fought over the leftovers the next day. The guys want me to make it again for Valentine's Day... and frankly, I'm wondering why we have to wait that long...
So as it turns out, after all these years I'm actually capable of following a recipe that involves more than "microwave on high for 3-6 minutes." A shout out goes to The Pioneer Woman for the great recipe, and to my always-willing taste testers at home... now affectionately known as The Dishwashing Staff. (Dude, cooking is MESSY!)
And thanks to Betty, my homegirl from the beyond, who comes to my kitchen when summoned and makes sure that I never overdo it with the KOO'-min.