April 3, 2010

Cooking and Baking (but no Candlestick-making - YET)

I've just passed the 2-month mark on my new stay-at-home art venture.  In a way, the time has flown; yet in an altogether different way, it feels as though I've been in this line for years.  This was brought home to me last Thursday when I went to one of my former co-worker's retirement party.  I got to see a lot of my work friends and it was wonderful, but I'm starting to forget my day-to-day activities that were such an enormous part of my life for five years.  That's odd.

What I don't miss is the so-busy-I-can't-keep-up pace I used to endure.  But I have discovered that I do indeed enjoy having something to do all day.  And when I'm not making art, more and more this translates to being in the kitchen.

When Brian and I began this full-time art adventure (I include Brian because he's as much a part of it as I am, if only for the immense support), one of the things we agreed upon was that I also become the home economist, saving money in as many ways as we could.  I soon realized that it's far less expensive to bake from scratch - you can really stretch a box of Bisquick!  I've also discovered the joys of kitchen creativity spilling over into my artwork - chemistry is a big part of cooking and art, after all!

In the last two months I've cooked more than in the last eight years total.  I've expanded my recipe repertoire a hundredfold, and I'm having a marvelous time in the process.  Call me a geek, but I adore my Sunday night ritual of planning the week's menu and its corresponding grocery list.  Much of what I make is dictated by what's on sale and in coupons that week, thus saving us even more money and allowing me to get even more creative.  I've also been buying local when I can, shopping at places like Eden Meat Market (and soon, the weekend farmers' market!) where I know the meat and produce is the freshest possible.  Because of some creative web searches and scouring the Sunday papers, along with doing our own cooking, I am saving an average of $92/week on our grocery bill.  It's thrilling.

I've also been doing quite a bit of baking.  Now, anyone who worked with me at the Reporter may remember that when it was a "Food Day", I would NEVER bring in baked goods; I would stop by the bakery on the way into work.  Baking was never something I enjoyed, until now.  I made a batch of brownies yesterday because my sister Jen and her family were coming to pick up their doggie after their vacation, and it made my day when they all scarfed down the pan (Jen and her husband Mike are both excellent chefs in their own right). 

These days, with the Internet as your guide, you can find a recipe for nearly any dish you could dream up.  What I love is that you can type in one ingredient and work from that.  Sites like recipes.com and Epicurious are wonderful tools to have at one's disposal, and I've consulted them often.  Many of you reading already know this, I'm sure; I am certainly a latecomer to this fun way of eating!

It is my sincerest wish that I will always have this balance between my art and having enough time to make dinner every night.  Brian loves it, I love it, and even when my art projects are being stubborn I feel good knowing that I've accomplished a delicious dinner at the end of the day.


  1. I love baking precisely because it IS like chemistry... cooking, not so much. I could never be one of those "a little of this, a little of that" sort of cooks-- I draw a blank when faced with random ingredients, and no recipe in mind for them. And I WISH I could be one of those meal-planning people; unfortunately what seems to happen is whenever I plan a menu for the week, somehow the fact that it IS planned means we don't want to eat those things, and would rather have take-out pizza instead. It's all mental, I know... It's nice to read that you're settling in to your "at home" routine!

  2. Isn't that a hoot, Jennifer - I'm exactly the opposite. :D I used to get so afraid that I'm going to screw up a baking recipe that I'd very rarely make anything easier than a batch of cookies....I'm much braver now. :D
    I hear you about the meal planning - there have been days (usually Fridays!) when we look at each other and say, "Wanna go to....?" It's much more fun, that's for sure! :D