Monday, July 01, 2013
So I wrote my last entry, "Back in the Kitchen", optimistically, looking forward to hours in the kitchen with a sunny outlook.
Well, yesterday I learned a lesson.
At this stage in my journey, it's not a great idea to plan to spend hours and hours in a kitchen that has junk food in it.
I cubed and roasted the eggplant for dinner tonight and prepared the lentils just fine. I assembled the salad and threw it in the fridge to let the flavors mingle overnight. So far, so good. I was feeling great, hadn't eaten anything off plan, and that is when I should have walked away. I should have told Matt to bring home something ready to heat for dinner.
Instead, I dove into the recipe for that night--cabbage rolls. I knew that this recipe was going to take a lot of time. It's not that any one component takes that much effort, it's just that all together it takes about 90 minutes just to get the rolls assembled and ready to cook. Then I planned to make Saffron Garlic rice on top of that. Again--this is not a hard recipe, but at that point the thought of chopping up another onion and skinning and chopping ten cloves of garlic was just not at the top of my list. I was really tired. I was in a bad mood because the cabbage I picked out was too flimsy after I blanched it, the olives were really hard to pit, and the almond milk appeared to slightly separate when I added it to the tomato sauce. Plus, the lentil filling was sooo good... so I just kept tasting it.
I had to keep opening the fridge to take out ingredients (because our kitchen is too tiny to take everything out ahead of time) and I kept noticing grandma's leftover jelly munchkins from her doctor's appointment the day before. Ninety minutes beforehand, I was feeling great and ignored them. Now, slightly depressed that the meal was turning out so much less perfectly than I'd remembered from last time I'd made the recipe (and with no less effort than I'd remembered), I figured one munchkin couldn't hurt. But I couldn't stop thinking about them, so just to make myself stop thinking about them, I finished all six.
By the time the cabbage rolls were in the oven, I gave up on the idea of making the rice from scratch at that point. I was tired, I was hot, I had planned to go for a walk with a friend at 7:00pm but I felt like I was getting a migraine, and I just wanted to get out of the kitchen.
So I plopped down on the chair in front of the air conditioner with what was left of grandma's pain au chocolate from earlier that day and watched Modern Family until the buzzer went off for dinner.
I tracked everything I ate and I went for a short, relaxed walk around the neighborhood later that evening, but I fell off the wagon. I missed a bigger walk, I missed spending time with family, I didn't eat healthfully, and I felt depressed and exhausted on what was supposed to be a restful day.
To put a more pleasant spin on the recent unpleasantness, I'd like to sum up my "learnings".
1) Don't bite off more than I can chew in the kitchen. For now, just focus on recipes that are healthy and easy to make. Only focus on making one part of the meal from scratch. If there is a meal that calls for two recipes that each start with sauteeing onions, rethink the meal. Right now, I'm cooking for subsistence, not to improve my cooking skills. That will come later when I'm further along in the process--and when the house is more organized. Juggling all of the pots and pans and baking trays in that crowded kitchen turns simple meals into unpleasant tasks.
2) Try to minimize the junk food that we bring into the house for grandma. This is tricky because, honestly, she needs to eat and gain weight, and the doctor has made it clear that if all she wants to eat is junk, then that's OK. And she really enjoys junk. But we can limit her to one kind of junk. There was no need to have jelly munchkins and a chocolate croissant and ice cream sandwiches in the house all at once. I know that she enjoys each of these, but she wouldn't have missed the munchkins and the croissant. Evidently. Because I ate them. And she didn't miss them.
3) Don't put my cooking before my exercise. I should have started backing away right after I roasted the eggplant, because I knew I was going for a long walk with Matt's sister that evening and I should have really conserved my energy for that. That was important. I could have eaten a meal that was plenty healthy but way simpler--Matt could have brought home a can of soup and we could have had that with toast. The cabbage rolls weren't worth missing the walk and the socializing.
Anyway. These were important lessons, and I'm glad that I've taken the time to specifically articulate what happened because I think I can take steps to prevent this from happening in the future.
Meanwhile, I'm back on the wagon.