Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marinade (aka, "make SOMETHING!")

I don't like bland, meager frozen dinners. I do like greasy fast food (Arby's, Long John Silver's, McDonald's), but I always feel crappy after scarfing it down.

At 45 and single, I finally realized that the only time I'm going to get a home-cooked meal is exactly 2 times a year, at my mother's on Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Birthdays, we all go out.)

After years and years of just buying mainly frozen food from the grocery store, I've finally started sporadically planning out slightly heartier menus just for myself out of boredom and necessity: One is boneless chicken breasts and broccoli. The chicken breasts are already bought boneless -- there's no work there except the very mild "creativity" of tossing them in a marinade of some sort, usually squirts of Italian dressing, a day beforehand before throwing them in the oven. The head of broccoli, steam it in a pot. Then dip the steamed florets into a butter/lemon sauce. The result is darn satisfying. (Much moreso than the random 2-minute microwave dinner.)

Also satisfying is buying a pound of raw hamburger meat for $4 and frying it up. That cheap pound makes a lot of stuff! For me, I divide the mass of flesh into two parts: One half, I shape and spice with salt/pepper/bbq sauce and fry up into two patties -- I eat one at the time, save the other to heat up later in the week. The second half, I chop up in the skillet, adding taco powder, and use later in the week to fill either crunchy corn or soft flour tacos.

Boneless chicken and ground hamburger meat, however simplistic, are nonetheless good for my psyche when I buy and cook them because I've had some sort of hand in the cooking/flavoring myself.

Will I ever reach a delicious level of cooking similar to my mother's Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas beef roll-ups? I highly doubt it. But in the meantime, during the rest of the year, I do now, at the age of 45, feel the need to make an effort to feed myself something a little better than Michelina's $1 frozen lasagna or mac-n-cheese meals.

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