When I first moved into my house - with an actual (though still small) kitchen, at first I was thrilled with the possibilities. Homemade cakes! Roasts! Complex three course meals served to adoring friends! I'd be amazing.
But then, reality. As a grad student, I still hadn't solved that "no money" thing. But that can be worked with. The real problem, I found, is that cooking for one stinks. There are cookbooks and websites and blogs out there that will try to tell you that this isn't so. That cooking for one means creativity and freedom. Eat what YOU want! The truth is, though, most recipes don't scale down well to single size portions. Sure, a single chicken breast or a small piece of fish will work. But a stew, or a roast, or a dessert? Not so possible. My sister is one of those people who is content to make a big pot of something on Sunday, and then eat it all week. I am not that person. So I cooked here and there, but was more likely to sit down to a dinner of frozen pizza or bread with cheese and tomatoes. My forays into cooking were amateurish at best.
The feminist that lies within me hates to admit that my real desire to cook started with a man. It just seems so 1960s Betty Crocker. But there it was. He moved in, and dinner was no longer a random selection of things from the fridge eaten in front of the TV. It was a time to sit down - at an actual table - and talk to each other. So I started to cook real meals. And I made some good ones. And some flops. And a lot of mediocre fare.
Faced with an indeterminate amount of time off, I have recently decided to put myself through a sort of self directed cooking class. Not only to cull through the pile of recipes and find the good ones, but to really learn how to be a cook. How to chop an onion. How to cook a really great steak. Tackling things that I didn't have the time to do - pulled pork, braised lamb shanks - or that I was afraid to try - yeast breads, pastries, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs.
Since it brings some sense of progress and accomplishment to track these sorts of things, quest #2 will chronicle my successes and flops (hopefully with pictures) throughout the year.