Wherein I embody the old adage: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen

My apartment is tiny. Really tiny. How many steps do you think it takes for me to get from the couch in my living room to the bed in my bedroom? It’s a trick question: the “living room” and the “bedroom” are the same room. (And the answer is: about a half a step.) If I stood in the middle of my apartment and spread my arms out, there would be very little space between my fingers and the walls on either side. I had to have my parents bring my small, circular hightop table back home because it took up too much space.

But it’s my apartment. I pay the rent. I pay the bills. I love it.

I love its hardwood floors. I love that it’s 10 blocks from work. I love the neighborhood. I love the sounds of people going in and out of the laundromat below my window. I even love the hissing of the radiator, as it reminds me of waking up on winter mornings in my childhood home.

The one part of my apartment that I’m in more of a love/hate relationship with is the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely little area, with new countertops, nice cabinets – even a dishwasher. But I have to walk by it pretty much anywhere I go in my apartment. And it mocks me.

It mocks me because when I first saw the apartment, I was sooo excited about the kitchen. It was brand new! It was clean! I was going to cook for myself every night!

In my excitement, one rather important thing escaped me: I can’t cook.

But it’s not only that. I don’t like to cook. Which is probably why I can’t; I’ve never wanted to learn. And I’ve never really needed to learn.

But that has changed. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: New York City is expensive! Oh, yes it is. Why didn’t anyone tell me that before I moved here?

And while I am working and making a living, I do have to pay rent. And bills. (See above). And I have absolutely no right spending as much as I do on food each week.

Coffee on the way to work? Sure! Have to start the day off right.

Food delivered at lunch? Why not!? Too rushed every morning to pack my own.

Take-out for dinner? Yup! Exhausted after a long workday and besides, who has time to go food shopping?

No. It’s time to give myself some tough love: You are not a baller. You do have time. The money you spend on eating out is absurd and unacceptable – and it has to stop.

But, oh yeah, I can’t cook.

You see, I have a few issues with cooking:

1)    Recipes are notorious for requiring ingredients I don’t have. Ingredients I have to make a special trip to the grocery store to buy. And then when I buy them for that one recipe, they just sit in my cabinet or refrigerator, not to be used again, until they go bad and I have to throw them away.
2)    Recipes are also notorious for calling for ingredients I’ve never heard of. That’s basically just asking for a recipe to hit the proverbial cutting room floor of my kitchen.
3)    I like quick and easy, and many recipes are neither. Heating up a can of soup? That I can do. That is quick and easy. That is not, however, “cooking.”

I become a total idiot in the kitchen. And it’s frustrating how cooking seems to come easy to so many people, including Brian. I love when he cooks for me. It’s one of the reasons I fell for him (more on that in another post). It’s cute how he thinks I’m learning as I watch him. “See? You just throw ingredients together! It’s easy!” he tells me.

It’s not easy. I’ve tried throwing ingredients together. It’s rancid.

But I’m not a quitter. I’m also not going to make it much longer if I continue to drop money like what on eating out. So I’m on the lookout for recipes that are the following:

1)    Simple (read: contains ingredients found in any ol’ market)
2)    Yummy (read: will not turn out rancid)
3)    Idiot-proof (read: I can handle it)

And then maybe I’ll be one of those people who can brag descriptively on Facebook about the delicious meal I just created (rather than being the person who hisses at them).

Because I have to walk by my kitchen no matter where I go in my apartment. In fact, it’s the first thing I see when I walk through the door to my tiny apartment. We may as well try to get along.

Help? Where can I find some simple/yummy/idiot-proof recipes for one? Do you have any to share?

Wherein I embody the old adage: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen was last modified: March 16th, 2010 by Jane Couto Govednik
SHOWHIDE Comments (12)
  1. As a single, NYC girl myself, I have a TON of these! Baked Ziti is an easy start, as is roasted veggies, quesadillas, salsa chicken….sending you an email NOW with ideas!!

  2. One that is a never fail that I got from a friend: Boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded thin (use anything you have to pound it) and then spread a TBsp or so of your fave flavor of cream cheese (chive & onion is a fave here). Place a small pat of butter and sprinkle with salt and roll up. Wrap a slice of bacon around and bake at 400 for 35 min. or so. You can even place it close to the broiler to crisp up the bacon if you have time. The big bags of frozen chicken breasts are great for you because you can take out as many or as few as you need at a time and they thaw in a bowl of water in just a few minutes!

  3. Do you know what hoisin sauce is? It’s what goes into moo shu sauce at Chinese restaurants, and it’s in a jar in the Asian section of the grocery store. Iron Chef even produces a brand!

    If you can find that you can make mahogany beef stew… and Brian will LOVE it. If you don’t eat beef then you could sub in chicken and it would be more cacciatore-like.

    Here’s the link to the recipe:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mahogany-Beef-Stew-with-Red-Wine-and-Hoisin-Sauce-106212

  4. Whole roasted chicken! Just buy a whole chicken, smother with some olive oil and pop in the oven at 375 till done (usually 1 1/2 hr) I usually make one on Sundays since it takes a while and have dinner for sunday and Monday and then make chicken salad with the rest.

  5. Do you own a crockpot? They are great – put frozen piece(s) chicken in the crock in the morning, cover with chicken soup straight out of the can – throw a little basil or oregano on top with a slice of swiss cheese – let it cook as you work – come home to a wonderful aroma – do up a potatoe or veggies and dinner is ready!

  6. Oh my goodness, Jane! Your apartment sounds exactly like the one I had when I was teaching in Japan!!!! I also didn’t cook for the same reasons as the ones you listed!

    Now that I’m married to a farmer and Mom to a 14 month old, cooking has become one of my passions. I’m not one for labor-intensive dishes, so all the recipes you’ll find on my blog (in the recipe archives) are EASY…and IDIOT-PROOF…and usually take less that 30 mins!

    I agree with some of your readers. A crockpot is essential for no-fuss dishes! You can make chili, soup, stew, ribs, chicken, roasts, cabbage rolls, etc…and not even really have to do anything! I put my ingredients in the crockpot in the morning, and by supper time, supper is ready!

  7. Okay, let me say I empathize as I 2 suck as a cook. So here are a couple of super easy recipes I love…..
    Russian Chicken (boneless skinless chicken), boil in a bag brown rice, russian dressing (2) and apricot preserves (large jar)…put chick, dressing and preserves (mixed over chicken) in casserole dish @400degrees for 30-40min and serve over rice…YUMMY

    Boneless, skinless chicken, kraft italian dressing, chicken broth, brown rice, fresh green beans….cook chik in 1/4cup italian dressing in a skillet until brown both sides (cooked all the way thru)….then toss in broth (1cup) and 2cups chopped green beans and 1 cup rice (cover, simmer on med-hi until done). Delish.

    Good luck and welcome back. U were missed. 🙂

Wherein I embody the old adage: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen was last modified: March 16th, 2010 by Jane Couto Govednik