Finding Joy Through Cooking

I didn’t always love cooking. It can be exhausting and messy but at the end of the day there is something very satisfying about cooking. I will say cooking is something I struggled with so I didn’t really like it. I was one of those people that thought it was easier to order takeout than it was to cook.  But, let’s face it, cooking is cheaper and it creates less waste. 

So, when the pandemic hit and I was home full-time, I started to embrace the joy of cooking. A bit out of necessity but mostly because it was something I could spend my time on between work and the Peloton. 

It wasn’t easy at first. I definitely made a lot of mistakes. My kitchen was always so messy. I also noticed I was spending a bunch on groceries. So, I started to think maybe takeout is better, LOL.

After all the lessons learned and through practice, I love to cook and here is why I think you will too. 

Sense of Accomplishment

Once I got past all the early trials and tribulations, there is something so gratifying about creating a meal with just a pound of ground turkey. I also love how wonderful it feels when I am cleaning out my fridge but instead of putting everything into compost, I make a pizza instead.  My mom is the master of doing that, she could take a bunch of random things and create a meal. So, I learned how to do that from her. 

Confidence Booster

One of the things I have learned is that cooking makes me feel good. When I am feeling down about myself because of my weight or struggling at work, I find cooking gives me a boost of confidence. I love when I make something so tasty I can’t wait to share it with others. Hearing the compliments or the request for seconds just makes me feel so good. I love having people over just so I can cook. 

Some Things I’ve Learned

Lesson 1: Plan Ahead… The key to making cooking easier is to plan what you are going to make. I do this by inventorying my kitchen. Surveying all the items I have in my fridge and pantry then determine what I can make. For example, I had sausage defrosted in the fridge, a bunch of shredded cheese, leftover red onion and a jalapeno. I thought the easiest thing to do is make a pizza. I used the butter, milk and parmesan cheese I had in the fridge to make a white sauce. Then I made homemade pizza dough from pantry staples of flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil and vinegar. Another example is to take the ground turkey I have in the freezer to make my mama’s meatballs (recipe below). Easily two meals without going to the grocery store. Another reason to plan ahead is to determine what ingredients you might be missing then grab at the grocery store. The worst thing is when you start cooking and realize you don’t have a critical ingredient… Insert facepalm. 

Lesson 2: Prep Ahead… On my gosh, prepping my food in advance has saved my life. It has made cooking so much easier for me. By taking the time to prep, it has made cooking a lot faster and CLEANER. I have made less of a mess just by prepping my food. How is that you ask? Well, I have found that by chopping the vegetables, measuring the seasonings and putting them in bowls before I even start cooking it allows me to clean as I go. In addition, cooking is about timing so by prepping my ingredients I’m not moving so fast to get the ingredients in the pan that I am spilling everything. In addition, with blogging and learning how to make videos, prepping helps me to film easier (that’s just a side bonus, LOL). 

Lesson 3: Invest in Tools… Oh my gosh, I totally understand the appeal of shopping for kitchen supplies. Guaranteed most of my Christmas and Birthday Wish Lists have kitchen supplies on them. Here are a few items I would recommend investing in:

  • Kitchenaid Mixer – Makes baking so much easier. The kneading attachment is awesome for my pizza dough.
  • Meater Thermometer – Best gift I ever received. Cooking meats were a struggle before I got this gadget. I love that I can put this in the oven. It is also a smart gadget. I’ll share a review of this amazing gadget in a future post. 
  • Food Processor – It is amazing for making sauces, shredding vegetables and cheeses. I also use it for making scones. 
  • Le Creuset Pots & Pans – These can be pricey but so worth it. 
  • Wusthof Knife Set – Cooking is torture with cheap dull knives, so it is very important to have high quality sharp knives. 

Lesson 4: Watch Videos… There is a reason why cooking reels and Food Network is so popular. They make cooking look so easy. Since I am a visual learner, I find videos to be so helpful as I build on my cooking skills. For example, I want to make a whole turkey so I have been watching videos on Food Network to learn how to do it so it is not scary or complicated. 

Mama’s Meatballs Recipe

This weekend is my mama’s 75th birthday. So in honor of her I’m making my favorite recipe she makes, her Danish meatballs. They are a lot like Swedish meatballs but since my mama is Danish, I call them Danish meatballs, LOL. I haven’t made them before but I’m excited to try it and bring her leftovers and hope she enjoys them too. You can find the super easy recipe below. 

Ingredients

1 lb Ground Beef (or Turkey or Chicken)

1 Onion Grated

1 Egg

1 Slice of White Bread

1¼ C Milk

¼ t Cardamom

¼ t Nutmeg

¼ t All Spice

½ t Salt

¼ t Black Pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a slice of bread in a bowl. Pour milk over bread. Combine all ingredients together. Heat a large ovenproof pan with butter. Create ice cream scoop size meatballs and brown in a pan on each side. Remove meatballs from the pan and put on a plate. Add a bit more butter in the pan, sprinkle flour over butter to create a roux. Pour in more milk to make the gravy. Add the meatballs back in the pan and bake for 40 mins. If the gravy is too thick, transfer the meatballs to a plate and whisk in a bit more milk until the gravy is the consistency you like. Serve over rice or pasta.

Now, I know cooking isn’t for everyone, but I hope I was able to encourage you to try and find the joy in cooking, even if it is once and awhile. Although, if you are like me and cooking already brings you joy, what are some of your favorite recipes? Please share in the comments below. I’d also love to hear if you made my mama’s meatballs. 

Until next time, have a joy filled day

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