Starting to experiment in the kitchen more
by Mallary Tenore Tarpley
When I lived alone, I rarely felt motivated to cook. I was content eating veggie burgers and salads, and really didn’t like to cook for myself. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and eating more when I’m cooking for someone or eating with someone.
Since my meat-loving boyfriend and I started living together, I’ve been cooking a lot more. I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t mind cooking him meat dishes. I just wince a little when I pull apart shreds of chicken or dig my hands into raw beef. But I do it because I like cooking for Troy and seeing him enjoy the meals I make. I never sample his meat dishes, so I rely on him to tell me how they taste.
“Hmmm, this is SO good!” he always says. “I love your cooking.” (He promises he’s not flattering me and that he’s telling the truth. …)
Cooking has helped me add more variety to my diet, and it’s been a good way for me to build a healthier relationship with food. Lately, I’ve been trying to make meals that Troy and I can both eat. I’ve made a couple of vegetarian pasta dishes that I’ve added chicken to for Troy. I know never to add mushrooms or tofu (two foods that I love and he despises) to his portion. And he knows never to sneak pieces of meat into mine.
Sometimes my tofu dishes taste bland. Other times, I forget to add garlic to a stir-fry, or I measure out a 1/3 cup of cilantro instead of a 1/4 cup. But that’s OK. Part of the fun of cooking is learning as you go, improvising recipes and eventually making them your own. I’ve learned that cooking isn’t always as glamorous or as beautiful as food blogs make it out to be. One of my favorite food bloggers, Joy Wilson, recently wrote about this:
“The truth is, I only show you a small part of what goes on in my home kitchen. That usually looks like clean, overhead shots of neatly organized ingredients, piles of chocolate chunks, and stacks of cookies. We seem to have an understanding. I try to make things extra pretty and wonderfully delicious, and you (hopefully) run to your kitchen and bust out the butter.
I love making things pretty for you, but I sometimes worry that all of this sets up an unrealistic standard in your mind. Maybe that’s why I’m always over-sharing that my thighs rub together, I used to have frizzy bangs, and I’m unnaturally afraid of spiders.”
We’re not perfect.
These photos I took of the recent meals I’ve made are far from perfect, but they at least capture the variety of recipes I’ve been trying out. I’ll post more in the future (after I start using Instagram and my old Canon Rebel more!) I hope to keep cooking, and to keep getting better at it.