This week I’m only eating food I prepare myself. This week is going to be rough.
I pretty much never cook. Because I am a French Aristocrat. My fingernails are three feet long, and I cannot touch crockware that peasants have touched. It is an impossibility. Also, I have raging syphilis and mostly drink mercury to treat it.
No, that’s – I don’t know whether to say fortunately or unfortunately – not true. But it is easy not to cook in New York. There’s a take-out place on every single corner. And not bad take-out. Really great gourmet sandwiches and organic salads take-out. Also, restaurants, everywhere. And cocktail parties with food, because in terms of networking, bars are the golf courses of Manhattan.
But for the next week, I’m going to eat nothing that I did not have some hand in preparing. It will be an experiment. In… being a person, I guess.
Because the fact that I don’t cook is different than saying “I can’t cook.” The only people who can’t cook have no limbs, are illiterate or are clinically insane. If you’re reading this article, and in that sweet spot where you don’t believe you’re a lighthouse, you can probably do it. I just never do, because it seems boring, and time consuming, and hard.
I’m pointing this out because someone asked if I was going to do a series of posts on how bad I was at cooking in some sort of funny I Love Lucy riff. No. No, partly because I don’t find female incompetence overly comical, but mostly because I will actually need to eat this food. Instead, I’m going to try to do this as well as I can. Because I still want to be Julia Sugarbaker more than I will ever want to be Lucy Ricardo.
And because I heard that eating the good you cook makes you 1) lose weight and 2) save money. I’m going to see if either of those things prove to be true.
I bought $108 worth of basic foods I like. (If you have any recipes combining one or all of these, please let me know, but especially all.) They are:
Italian white bread
whole wheat English muffins
One tomato, because I did this shopping trip with my dad, an excellent cook, who said “Jennifer, buy a tomato. Tomatoes are good. You can put one in things.”
I don’t actually like tomatoes, so I’m worried about this little guy. I’ve named him Earl. He’s already got some brown spots.
I figured the best way to approach this would be to try to duplicate some of the foods I already eat regularly. Generally, in the morning, I buy a yogurt parfait from Starbucks. I like the way it has fruit in it, mostly? Also, it’s a combination of grains and protein. It costs around $4.50.
I decided something else that would combine those those would be a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and fruit. My inclination was to make a smiley face out of blueberries on it, but since this is a grown-up project, and grown-ups contain layers, I gave it a face like it’s having a stroke. Like Walt Whitman or America itself, this muffin contains multitudes.
It was actually excellent, and I feel like the freedom to make food faces expressing a whole range of strokes and varying recovery levels is pretty much unlimited. Still, the whole thing made me think about how nice it would be to make yogurt parfaits. But I needed granola for that. I had some granola, once. It was called Crapola. It was excellent. And its name made me laugh like a small, severely maladjusted child. I heard they sold it at Trader Joe’s, BUT HOLY GOD HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TRADER JOE’S?
Someone apparently told everyone who believes in the apocalypse that it was happening tomorrow and they should prepare by buying all the organic flaxseed in the world. Fucking cult leaders. Seriously. Trader Joe’s is filled with a line that goes around the store. AROUND THE STORE. I shopped before a hurricane, that admittedly never hit, once (I bought wasabi peas, banana chips) and it wasn’t this insane. Why does the line go around the store? The line goes around the entire store because there are two elderly people at the cashier, standing there and making conversation with the customers.
Maggie Thatcher never would have let this happen.
Someone there turned to someone – not me – and said “chill out”. Since I am pretty sure that “chill out” and “relax” is what the Grim Reaper sings while he pays the panflute, I left and went to Whole Foods. They have an organized system. I bought some of this granola. I think it will be nice.
I wish there was something people could say that was the opposite of “chill out” that was socially acceptable.
There isn’t, though.
I went home to make a sandwich.
I generally associate sandwiches made at home with uncooked whitebread and slices of cold cheese which is why I never, ever eat them at home. I associate sandwiches at restaurants with being fucking delicious. Especially ‘Wichcraft’s sandwich, which is made with caramelized onions and gruyere cheese. I would like to buy one. With a cup of tomato soup. It looks like this:
Instead, I will make one.
BUT HOW WILL I CAREMELIZE THE ONIONS?
Oh. Did you know it’s not hard to caramelize onions? It’s not. You just put them in a pan with some olive oil and a pinch of salt and sugar. And you leave them there for like, 15 minutes, stirring them a bit. Not that hard! Look!
Unfortunately, making cheese melt while pan frying bread without the bread burning seems nearly impossible. What do you do about that? I ended up burning one side of the toast, but a lot of the cheese was still not melted. Use shredded cheese, maybe? Is that a thing people do?
I also made a bowl of tomato soup. It was good because it was Campbell’s tomato soup, so obviously. Andy Warhol already know this stuff.
Money saved – $12.50
The oddest part of this is that while eating I was gripped with an uncontrollable desire to watch New Girl. I did. I did even though there were good episodes of House on four different channels, and also the Joan Fontaine version of Jane Eyre. I watched it and I laughed. “I like ice skating for fun – not to save lives.” HAHAHAHA. It’s funny. That was very funny.
Basically, I think this thing might be changing my soul, and I’m pretty worried about that. Further updates tomorrow!
Oh. I made another bowl of soup in the evening. It was pretty straightforward, honestly. I mean, it was a can of soup I heated up. I probably would have gone at gotten a bowl of turkey chili otherwise, which would have cost $8.
Total money saved so far: $25.
Also, send things that are good to do with a solitary tomato other than take walks with it and treat it as a pet.