Since I stopped devouring books and using the computer much (because reading triggers migraines), I’ve been bored. I hate being bored.
Every hands-on craft I try causes wrist pain that I haven’t been able to conquer. Baking is fantastic, but consuming all that I make isn’t a smart dietary strategy. So I’ve decided cooking will be my new hobby.
Although deciding to do something I’ve never particularly liked for fun is a little weird, it makes a lot of sense. I’d love to have a hobby again. I like food, I need to eat, and eating better food would probably make me feel better.
By approaching cooking as a hobby instead of a chore, I hope it will be fun, not the high-pressure job of reforming my diet. Ideally cooking will become something I want to do, not have to do.
These are the guidelines I’ve established so I don’t exhaust myself. Is it contradictory to set goals for a hobby?
Use Simple Recipes
I’m currently taking Mark Bittman‘s (aka The Minimalist) no-nonsense approach: Make better food in less time with fewer ingredients. I’m starting small with his very short cookbook, How to Cook Everything: Quick Cooking. It isn’t an overwhelming tome, but a short introduction to tasty basic recipes. A perfect housewarming gift for someone in their first apartment, the book includes variations for the more experienced or adventurous cook. I’m supplementing with The Minimalist Cooks at Home for variety. (It’s out-of-print, but is available used.)
I’ve owned it for four years and have liked the few things I’ve made from his books. Now my plan is to approach it methodically. Like Julie and Julia, where blogger Julie Powell set out to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. The Minimalist’s goals are much less lofty, but the idea is the same.
Buy Ingredients for One Meal at a Time
This is to avoid wasting food and feeling like I’ve failed. I broke this “rule” one day into my plan. Because this is a new hobby, not a resolution, I’ve no need to beat myself up. Good things hobbies don’t have rules. Besides, I still think I can do it.
Learn New Techniques
This is the part that turns work into entertainment. I’ve always been reluctant to cook meat on the stove. In fact, I’m reluctant to cook meat at all. Not only do I get to produce an edible product (however bad it may be), I expand my skills and learn new recipes. This will make my hobby more fun in the future.
Tomorrow I’m taking the knife skills class I’ve wanted to take for years. It’s a morning class, so I’m confident I’ll make it this time. I’m already daydreaming about future classes.
I made my recipe plan yesterday morning, then Hart called to say he had a work dinner. I felt crappy, so it was fine, but my motivation is far weaker than 24 hours ago. I hope applying the techniques of the knife skills class will boost my overall motivation.
Clearly there’s little difference between my new hobby and a New Year’s resolution. Since resolutions usually fail, I’m relying on the power reframing. It’s an essential skill of every optimist.
I hope simple cooking will become a frequent topic on The Daily Headache. Nutrition and ease are some good topics for a headache blog.
Photo by Joe Zlomek.