extreme cooking

one of my spiritual gifts is NOT discipline. for a complete list of "not my spiritual gifts" see...a book about positive traits in highly functional people.

i do have a few spiritual gifts. my favorites are photo captioning and the ability to pick the awesomest thing off of any restaurant menu. go ahead and order that burrito, but i'm telling you, you WILL want my short rib tacos when the food arrives (you know who you are).

but i digress (oh! digression. another gift! i am putting all KINDS of positive-thinking lipstick on the pig that is my scattered brain).

so like i was saying 10 minutes ago, i am bad at discipline. particularly when it comes to food. i actually really enjoy cooking, but since i am not disciplined enough to plan ahead, buy the groceries and store them (in a manner that does NOT involve me finding unopened old yogurt in the trunk of my car 2 months after i brought it home and forgot to unload it), we often are left to scrounge.

this means that most nights jesse and i sit around in denial that we are actually hungry. we make the kids their meals as we get progressively hungrier. it's like, if we wait long enough and dont consciously address the issue, surely one of our parents will show up with a hot, well balanced dinner for us.

whatever you do, dont acknowledge the hunger. it will only lead to shame and frustration that all you have on hand is uncrustables (which i would gladly eat 5 of daily if not for that damned 1 hour thawing time), goldfish and delicious-looking hamburger helper boxes (which we cant make because WE DONT OWN HAMBURGER).

so we ignore it. and then, all of a sudden, the hunger is on my back, clawing at me like a feral lynx in heat. it usually manifests with a barely-suppressible urge to punch jesse dukes in the face for something as trivial as: wearing a flaccid-necked t-shirt, letting the bottom of his shoes touch ANY fiber of upholstery or bed linen in our home, or, god forbid, throwing an enclosed container into the sink (where it will sit for 3 days until i finally do the dishes, wherein, in a fit of domestic hubris, i will be flying through my chore and will endeavor to forcefully and ever so efficiently take the top of a sippy cup off, and will instead end up splashing curdled milk or mystery leftovers into my face, and most likely, my open mouth. cataclysm will ensue).

i deny the boiling hot punch-instinct and cast it away into its happy place: a veritable pandora's box where all of my unpunched punches, unhurled invective, and unrammed idiot drivers are kept. in a inaccessible and forgotten corner of my brain, this pulsing cube of repressed animal instinct pulses and waits; deactivated, but hungry. if science could harness the kilo-joules of potential energy contained in this nugget of pure rage-energy, we would have clean-burning fuel for all of mankind. i was a little afraid that when the castaways on LOST were poking around at the hatch that they had found the secret backdoor to this cache of destruction. dont worry, world, you are totally safe from my primal urges. as long as desmond keeps entering that code.

but we still need to eat. and it's no longer ignorable. we have now reached the event horizon where i know that, "if i dont have a zaxby's chicken finger in my mouth in 40 seconds, i am actually going to die." so this idyll of family life often concludes with a mad dash to some fast food place nearby.

case in point, this week week our dinner menu looked like this:

monday-roly poly picked up by jesse on his way home after my SOS text.
tuesday-chinese take-out, picked up by jesse after his guitar lessons went long and i was losing it at home.
wednesday- chinese take-out AGAIN because they messed up our order the night before and i wanted them to MAKE IT RIGHT. except the language barrier prevented this lesson in customer service, so we just paid them again.
thursday-mcdonald's on the way home because, shit, i NEED this.

so in an effort to NOT die of a diabetic heart-a-stroke at age 30, i decided enough was enough. so i sat down and menu planned for all of next week.

i got out my coupons, my publix flyer and my pinterest. i recently divided my food board up into several different boards for main dishes, sides, dessert and breakfast. so i just went on there and picked out some good-looking candidates and old favorites. it took all of 5 drooly minutes to select all 4 dinners for next week (friday night the kids are with my folks and its a giftcard date night!) and the leftovers will constitute many lunches for us as well since these recipes are for 4 adults.

i made up my shopping list and tweeted and instagrammed the mess out of that pic. hello, world! i am getting my life together!

if you want a better life, you need to be writing with these pens all the time. and 15 bonus stars to me for lining up my post-it lines with my legal pad lines unintentionally.

i know what you're thinking, the lady who cant pull it together enough to unscrew a sippy cup without baptizing herself in the unholy fount of spoiled chocolate milk and anger-lava is going to try to cook real food nightly? without the aid of a sidearm or a bottle of vodka?

yes, i am. i realize that this isnt anything to most humans. from what i hear, most moms cook dinner most nights of the week, even if they work outside of the home. if that is you, kudos. now please put down my thunder and step away from me. we dont even have a dinner table, so let's lower the ol' bar for keighty, eh?

i also realize that going from eating out every night of the week to cooking every night might be a tad extreme. hi, have you met me? i'm keight and i live in the extremes. i am working on improving that. but until then, i'd rather live in the extreme that has me ingesting green food and having regular bowel movements than the one where the doctor tries to draw my blood and all that comes out is MSG, processed cheese food and regret. can i get an amen?

so i will do this next week. i menu planned and shopped on the same day, so all the prep is done. now it's just opening the fridge, putting up the baby gate and getting to work BEFORE the starving hunger lynx crawls up my spine to take over the world. i picked easy but really delicious recipes that either jesse or i can do and which called for a lot of ingredients that i already had on hand (because mama is NOT paying $5 for a "pinch" of saffron, ina).

i hope this goes well. our habit is to go on kicks and then fall off the wagon, but maybe somehow one or two nights a week will hang on and become routine. otherwise, i fully expect bob harper to come rappelling through my sunroof during my next routine visit to the krystal drive through.

does anyone else SUCK at this planning ahead stuff? am i like a 67 inch tall human baby for making this little thing a "goal?" is anyone else a slave to takeout? anybody want to do this with me?

i will try to post reviews and pics of each of the recipes. but i know that even the new ones are going to be good. because, hello? i picked them, and i am spiritually equipped to pick food that i will love.


  1. 1) Those pens rock.
    2) I think, instead of a rage-hunger-lynx, I have a depressed-hunger slow loris (who, per Wikipedia, have a toxic bite?!). The world ends in a creeping melancholic haze every single evening when the chicken is still frozen and I have absolutely no clue what I'm going to do with frozen chicken again (since we've eaten frozen chicken the previous three nights as well), because I haven't bought groceries other than soy milk and triscuits.
    Sigh. I'm a 65-inch-tall human baby?

    I'm excited to see your recipes! (Three nights of bacon sounds fabulous.) If the C25K is any indication, you'll be well fed.

  2. I've tried the ignoring my hunger approach many times. It's definitely not the best decision. It usually ends with me having a headache, feeling kinda shaky/lightheaded, then stuffing my face with leftover candy from whatever most recent holiday gave me an excuse to buy way too much candy, and anything else I can find that involves no prep whatsoever. But hooray for having a plan! I hate menu planning and the grocery store. If people would do those things for me, I might just cook a little more often! Good luck!

  3. Amen, girlfriend. I am the same way. I actually do sit down and meal plan, but I am a single girl and so when I find a recipe that serves four adults, I am usually pretty certain that I will have no desire to eat that meal for two consecutive dinners and lunches. Anyhow. I usually end up buying food and half of it goes bad and then I feel like a horrible human being because I've been to countries where people would love to eat the same meal four times in a row.

  4. Girl, get a crockpot!! Then hit up all your friends for all their easy, "throw it all in one pot" recipes, and voila...dinner is ready when you walk in the door. 5-10 minutes tops of prep time in the AM. I even have a recipe where you put the chicken in while still frozen...so, you don't even need to remember to defrost.

  5. I have a very recent experience with this. My pantry is full of food that doesn't go together, (seriously, how can I not put together a single meal with all of this?!) so drive-thrus are my go-to after work. I never could figure out why I couldn't make a stop at the grocery store for something at least slightly more nutritious than the drive-thru. I pass it on my way home and I have to drive out of my way to the nearest drive-thru.

    At the last trip to my mother-in-law's, she was talking about starting a cleanse and for some reason I shouted out, "I'll do it with you!." What?...wait! I think my subconscious knew I needed this. It wasn't a weird juice cleanse or anything... just 3 weeks of a no caffeine, no gluten, no sugar, vegan diet. After doing some research on what I could actually eat, I realized I had to cook/prepare every single meal.

    Fast forward 3 weeks and here I am. I have totally enjoyed the meal planning, shopping, and cooking process. It's actually made it a lot easier. I know what to fix every day, all the ingredients are ready in the pantry, and I just have to fix it. There's no standing in front of the pantry door trying to figure out what in the hello I'm going to eat and running to McD's out of sheer frustration/desperation. I've fixed a lot of new recipes, learned how to cook new things, and realized that I can actually cook a meal on a daily basis.

    What I've learned: Find some easy things to fix for those days when you don't really feel like it. This will help stop the fast food/take out. Leftovers are amazing... a nice meal that I only had to re-heat! Experience the joy of your crock pot. Meat, soup... set it in the morning and you come home to a cooked meal! Woah. Whether you like it or not, pre-planning makes all the difference. And give it a couple of weeks. You'll get used to the routine. It will end up being not so extreme.

    I'm done with the cleanse on Sunday, so my meal plans for next week should be much easier. Vegans have it rough. Sheesh. Somehow this quick comment ended up being a novel. :/ I know what it's like to be a drive-thru/take out/food to go kinda gal turned into a meal planning/grocery shopping/cooking woman, so it's do-able. Share any new recipes you try!

  6. um yes. like Sarah said, get a crock pot! And then promptly proceed to make this recipe: http://healthy-delicious.com/2011/11/honey-bourbon-pulled-chicken/

    it's AMAZING. as in, I made it sunday and wanted to vomit from the initial bourbon smell and thought I would end up hating this, but I loved it so much I made it again Tuesday! You just throw in all the ingredients and some chicken and cook! So so so easy and so so so yummy!

  7. I go through spurts of doing a great job cooking and then one day I realize we had a whole week of take out food every meal. If Casey is off or working late (not getting home until 10) its usually takeout. I am terrible, TERRIBLE at planning any meals when I do cook. What I mean is I wake up Monday morning, realize Casey gets home at a decent hour decide what I want to cook for dinner, then realize I have none of that stuff at home, so go to the grocery store. (b/c I now am only satisfied with that particular meal and nothing else will, I hope I can blame this on breastfeeding). I am at this point incapable of shopping for meals ahead of time, I feel like it is going to make my head explode to do so. But I also realized that I only actually have to cook about 3 meals a week (right now) b/c like you said most meals are portioned for 4 adults, so we usually have a good amount of leftovers. So I alternate new meals and leftovers, therefore only needing like 3 or 4 meals a week. I usually work in extremes as well. Like the last few weeks I have been cooking a lot and so decided that I wanted to try making some bread. It worked out great, everyone loved it. Now I will not buy store bread. We will only eat the bread I make! The last loaf I made turned out a little "rustic" looking. still very yummy, just not very sandwichable. So we have been without sandwiches in the mix for lack of bread b/c hello, when did the house turn itself inside out and take everyone's clean clothes and make them all dirty. Apparently when I was doing all that cooking is all I can figure. It's a vicious, vicious cycle! Good luck breaking yours!! (sorry for the long rant, apparently I don't get to type to adults very often!)

  8. I HAVE GOT TO DO THIS! I keep "dreaming" of the day I will actually plan a menu, buy everything I need, cook {somewhat} ahead of schedule. I get home at 5:15 {hubs is already home}, we work out for 45 minutes, then I don't want to cook for longer than 20-25 minutes, if that. So, in a perfect world, I'd get a crockpot meal ready, brown ground beef, and pre-cook enough chicken for 2 meals all on Sunday, then the rest of the week I'd only need about 20 minutes in the kitchen before a {well-balanced, healthy} meal was on the table. UGH! Will I ever be able to do this???? Kudos to you - I'm in the same boat!

  9. This one's going in the book...every woman can relate at some point in her life. And add the spiritual gift of creating outlandish words that say exactly what you meant them to say, and making me laugh every day you blog. BTW-YOU are my cooking inspiration. When I don't know what to cook I just look at your pins...they're much better than sorting through Cooks or Southern Living. Hey, I believe in you...but, if nothing else, I'll get some new recipes outa this.

  10. maybe i just know the wrong people (us scatterbrains have to stick together, right?) but i am lucky to have a list with me when i go to the grocery store. we do not eat out during the week, but luckily, as a stay-at-home-slave, i can make a daily trip to the grocery store and put a feather in my hat for providing sibby another "outing" where she gets to wave at beings other than her mom and her dogs. that being said, i was just informed by my husband that he does not consider my cooking "real", because it is usually a casserole, one pot crock pot deal, or pasta. you know nothing benson ward! good luck with the planning ahead thing. share your wisdom, so maybe the kroger cashiers will stop looking at me with pitying eyes! (there's that lady in here again, the one with the one year old strapped to her chest!)

  11. I love that three of the four have bacon in them. They are bound to be delicious. I look forward to the reviews!!!

  12. 1) going to have to try those pens!

    2) going to have to have chicken kabobs this week - my husband is campaigning and I will not resist that meat-on-meat action!

    3) it's true - food choosing is very much one of your spiritual gifts

    4) funny: you always link me to some funny, mystery site that only exists in your heart. or on blogger, where I am no longer.

    5) proud of you! you're going to have a delicious and healthy week - and you will feel awesome mentally and physically because of it.

    6) I love it when you write things.

  13. I've been meal planning since my girls started on solids. Plus, we eat as a family every night so there's no option of late night cereal. What I've found is that it's way too hard for me to cook a big meal every night. I shoot for big meals Monday and Tuesday, that way I have leftovers for lunch. Wednesday is easy - tacos, quesadilla, something on the grill, grilled cheese, etc. Thursday is breakfast for dinner, and for Friday we go out or I grab a meal I froze.

    Good luck!

  14. My crockpot saves me 3 out of 7 nights!!!! The plug-me-in-and-dump-in-food-and-come-back-approx-8-hrs-later-to-yummy-goodness ROCKS!!!!!!!

  15. hi. I'm Meghan. I just found your blog today. I am a 5'7" version of the avoidance of hunger acknowledgement at least 3 days a week.. including the day that I called popcorn, string cheese, grapes a "balanced meal" for my 3.5 & 1.5 year old. I also consider the fact that your meals involve such healthy items that have never graced the grocery store in my tiny town, much less my home, a great sign of a higher calling to restoring the family meal than my planned attack of semi-homemade until they are old enough to be culinary victors on their own!

  16. Amen to the crockpot. Sometimes I'm awesome at planning and sometimes I really stink. When I'm pregnant I plan crockpot meals for every night of the week. Awesome. (Highly recommend Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea) I also put all my favorites on my blog so I can do quick meal planning from time to time.

    FYI, I found your blog through the braided scarf that was on pinterest. I don't know if it's just me or you are extremely funny but you actually make me laugh outloud. Love your blog!

  17. Karla Aukerman2/10/12, 10:11 PM

    All I can say is....I totally relate to you!!!! I LOVED reading this and laughed so hard the entire time! I'm proud of you...and now I need to get it in gear too! I have two little ones the same ages as yours....and I think we have a right to just make excuses! I still dream though, that one day I'll be one of those moms whose all organized and planned out, and makes delicious meals my family brags about. Probably won't happen, but I can dream, right!?