It’s time for me to come clean.
Before I moved to New York, I was highly judgmental of our friends who lived in the city and ate out almost every night. “Not only is that a waste of money,” I thought, “they are missing out on one of life’s simple pleasures, cooking and sitting down with family to a home-cooked meal.” When apartment-hunting, our broker asked us what room was most important to us. “The kitchen,” we replied without hesitation. In fact we turned down an apartment that had a closed-off kitchen. We wanted something big, open and airy. “So you like to cook?” the broker asked. “Yes,” I said smugly, “we love to cook and will be making dinner most every night.” Six months later and I am loathe to admit that I probably cook dinner once or twice a week. Now it’s my turn to justify why my oven is collecting cobwebs.
1) It’s partly seasonal. Whether at the Anderson family reunion, a friend’s lake house, visiting Mom and Dad in Pennsylvania, or attending weddings, we’ve been gone nearly every weekend this summer. That’s two or three days a week we’re not home.
2) I also work with Mom testing recipes for her new book. I’m gone two days and one night. We cook together and I bring home leftovers which Andy and I have for dinner that evening. So that’s two more nights we don’t cook dinner.
3) Groceries are very expensive and nine times out of ten it’s truly cheaper to get take-out than to buy groceries and not even I can resist that temptation.
4) In New York, take-out is not just pizza and Chinese food, you can get everything from Peruvian roast chicken and avocado salad to sushi and curry delivered to your door. We wouldn’t eat out half as often if there weren’t so many healthy and delicious options.
5) We meet up with friends at least one or two nights a week, so we either skip dinner, opting for nibbles at the bar or have dinner out.
6) There are thousands of amazing restaurants in New York!
It’s not easy for me to admit this. Not only because I am a food blogger who truly loves cooking, but also because I was so sure I wouldn’t be like everyone else. But now I understand that life is just a little different in the Big Apple than in small-town Farnborough, England when I was whipping up delicious dinners six or seven nights of the week. And loving it.
In the hope of re-igniting my passion for weeknight cooking, I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of making dinner (even if it means spending more money than it would to get take-out) starting with simple recipes and relatively inexpensive ingredients. I’ve been cooking a lot from Mom’s new book and also from her old books. Her Asian Lettuce Cups from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over are to die for. Simple, delicious and healthy. And dinner was on the table in less than 30 minutes.