Cookbooks: can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

Before I confess my love-hate relationship with cookbooks, let me tell you that the cable guy showed up earlier and within 15 minutes he had everything ready to go. We were like small children in a very large candy store. Dave flipped from channel to channel and at one point I actually hopped around the living room in excitement.

Anyway, back to my main thought for this post: cookbooks. I have a decent amount of cookbooks – they fill one shelf of our bookshelves – yet I hardly every use them. It’s very sad, since I love to cook. I pull a different one out every now and then and peruse the recipes, imagining myself making them. And then I resurface in reality, put the book back on the shelf, and go make something else.

Here’s my situation: I leave for work at 7:30 and get home between 6:00-6:30. I’m in bed no later than 10:00 on a regular night. I want something that I can get on the table quickly since after we eat there are still dishes to be done and lunches to be made for the next day and I like to exercise in the evening. Do you think my cookbooks are helpful? No. Let me explain why.

I have scoured cookbooks for easy-to-make meals and I usually come up empty handed. Slow cookers are a wonderful invention, but most meals left in a slow cooker for almost 11 hours would be overcooked. Even if I prep the night before, most recipes in my cookbooks require a lot of prepping when you actually make the dish. If I make a casserole the night before, it still has to cook when I get home. And don’t be fooled by cookbooks advertising meals in 30 minutes. They all lie.

Don’t even get me started on the ingredients. A recipe title will catch my eye but I quickly recoil in horror at the twenty different ingredients that I’ll have to purchase. I try to keep a well-stocked pantry, but I’m always missing something.

Maybe when I’ve been cooking for years, I’ll be able to master making actual cookbook recipes. Until then, I’m going to stick with what I know. I find a lot of my recipes online from real women who have busy schedules too (Pioneer Woman anyone?). I also marinate a lot of steak and chicken which I can throw on the George Foreman or in my cast iron skillet while I fix some fresh veggies (which I prepped the night before) or just microwave frozen ones. God bless whoever invented those steamer bags.

For the next three months, however, I’m working less hours than usual since the woman I work for is on maternity leave. This allows me more time to get dinner ready, which I’m looking forward to. Tonight we had Chicken Broccoli Supreme. Dave really enjoyed it. If you ever make it, though, I suggest using only one tube of Ritz crackers (the recipe calls for two and I thought there was too much topping); I also used whole wheat Ritz.

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4 thoughts on “Cookbooks: can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

  1. I have been married for 5 years and still hate cookbooks. I never have all the ingredients and half the time there are ingredients I have never heard of.

  2. One of my most favorite cookbooks ever is “How to Cook Without a Book” by Pam Anderson. No, not THE Pamela Anderson. This Pam Anderson is a fantastic chef/cookbook author and you will love this book. IThe recipes would fit your lifestyle and make a great Christmas gift (hint, hint–Lois Ann).

  3. Rebecca, I am enjoying reading this during an insomniac moment. I am glad you are getting some time off from those long hours these days. I do not like that you do not have time to cook. Have you ever asked the lady you work for if you could cook at her house. You could always make something there, (possibly set up the dish the night before, cook it at her house and then take it home with you.) I do this at church sometimes when I know the bake time is too long to be eating at a good hour.

  4. agreed! I sometimes skim through cookbooks to get ideas of main courses and then alter the recipe to make it easier/cost effective. Even when I do have the time, I dont want to search for fleur de sel, or exotic spices that will go WAY over the grocery budget.

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