Monday, July 7, 2014

The Way to My Husband's Heart

Today's reflection on marriage is about another big thing that wasn't really a big part of my life before getting married, and now is something that goes on daily: cooking! Before getting married, I knew the basics, thanks to my wonderful mother who homeschooled me and used cooking and cleaning in the kitchen as an elective in high school. (Homeschooling is fun like that!) But there's no way I could've grasped how much bigger of a job it is to be a housewife, in charge of my own kitchen. First off, I'll just say it's given me a much greater appreciation of all the cooking my mom did for me and my siblings, along with teaching us, driving us around, cleaning,…on and on the list goes!

How did I start out? With what I know and love the most - spaghetti! Featuring my mother's homemade alfredo sauce.

It started with walking into our apartment for the first time, and after moving past the initial "we're on our own, in our own home!" excitement, I realized how much work and responsibility came with that. All we had to start with in the kitchen were about 5 different seasonings that Curtis happened to have, and an ice tray. The first thing I did was make a dozen ice cubes just so that it wouldn't be so "empty." We had to do so many grocery runs that first week because there always seemed to be something I was forgetting. I quickly figured out that thorough meal planning before shopping was completely necessary, and over time I've gotten better at that. I'm definitely not a master at it!

Once I had gone through the "basics," it was time to start learning new things. Chicken parmesan with avocado was one of my first original meals.

The food you eat isn't something you'd normally think about discussing before getting married, but after getting married it suddenly becomes a big deal. When 2 become 1, you're combining 2 people who have grown up eating foods typically made by their mother, and even the same foods can have distinctly different taste or style. Therefore, both may have completely different expectations of what meals should consist of, when and where they should be, and how often they should happen. I had been living at home where my mom made most of the meals, while Curtis had been living on his own for the past 2 years and he had been living off of canned soup and had Domino's pizza twice a week. The best thing to do in this situation is to remember that we are our own new family now, and we could define meals however we wanted!

Our favorite comfort food - corn casserole - with sweet potato fries, a favorite healthy snack

When I started cooking, my biggest struggle was knowing how much to make. Going from a family of 8 to 2 was quite a challenge! I also had an interest in healthy eating. I had done the Paleo diet before, but I thought I'd have a happier husband if I made him desserts. (I was right!) I've educated myself to know what's healthy and what to avoid, and lately I've gotten better at making more and more things from scratch. I'm thankful for Pinterest and the numerous recipes I got from my mom and grandmas that helped to get me started.

One of our favorite meals is stir fry - when I take any meat we have, leftover or otherwise, throw it in the wok with a variety of vegetables that we need to use, throw in some seasonings and tada! A simple, flavorful, well-rounded delicious meal!

The first time we went grocery shopping together, I expressed my interest in wanting to eat healthy to Curtis. He said it was a great idea and went right for the rice cakes. What? Rice cakes? My dear mother taught me to stay away from those! Since he was so excited about his rice cakes, I let him get them, but told him that what I really meant was fruits and veggies. He was much less keen on that idea, but he always ate everything I made and told me that I was doing a great job. Just 6 months after that shopping trip, we were back shopping for groceries at the beginning of April, and I told Curtis that he could pick out whatever he wanted, no matter how unhealthy, because it was his birthday month. "No, that's okay," he said, "I really like the way you cook." Awwww! Those words made my heart happy - I've finally found a way to cook that works for us!

Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner? Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day ;) We love omelets stuffed with whatever that is in the fridge that sounds good!

One of the greatest things we've found that has encouraged fresh and healthy eating is Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets is a co-op that operates by contributions. Every other week, we "contribute" $15 and get a laundry basket full of fresh fruits and veggies that are well worth the price. I never know what's coming when I contribute, so that makes it kind of a guessing game, but I really enjoy figuring out how to best utilize everything we get and make it last as long as it can, until we get our next basket. I've also gotten some veggies that I had either never heard of or had never used before, and learning how to use new things has been a fun challenge. By doing this, we have new fresh food in our home every other week, and we only have to go to the grocery store once a month to get meat and anything else we might need stocked up on.

One week's bounty from Bountiful Baskets.

Oh, and then there's dessert…. but I already wrote how we feel about that in my cheesecake post. ;)

If you're interested in seeing what else we've tried making, check out my Pinterest page - I post & repin lots of the meals we make!

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