My name is Joy,
and I am addicted to eating out.
Can I please just blame this one on my mom…? Or my dad…? Of course not. Growing up we didn’t eat out that much as a family. But in my defense, while I was forced to practice piano 15 minutes every day AND dust and vacuum every Saturday for my allowance, I was never forced to participate in the kitchen. I’m not sure I was ever even invited. If I was invited it was with great speed and teenage angst that I declined.
I imagine that, at the end of her long, on her feet for 8+ hours, OR nursing day, my mother was more than happy to be free of distracting hands, a multitude of annoying questions and invariably occurring messes and spills as she was attempting to create a meal that no one would complain about.
Sometime in my 16th year, my dad took over the cooking (and everything else). It was 1979, four years before Michael Keaton would make Mr. Moming cool, and my dad rallied with homemade (not from a box) brownies after school, fresh baked (not from a machine) bread and cooked breakfasts.
When both my parents worked we ate at McDonald’s maybe once a week – as a treat. As a single income family, we ate out on the occasional birthday but mostly we celebrated with home cooked favorites: chow mein, lime broiled chicken, lasagna, beef tips, and made from “scratch” Chef Boyardee pizza.
I made some forays into the culinary arts while living at home. I did pretty well with the lasagna I adored. Baking came easy to me and I made chocolate chip cookies as often as I had time and we had ingredients. But if I ever had to feed myself on the fly, it was usually a sandwich or cereal.
In high school I took COE (Cooperative Office Education) instead of Home Ec.
My dad cooked almost all of my meals through my junior year in college, when I finally moved away.
First year away from home I lived on campus and had that fabulous Dining Card. Talk about college fast food heaven! Yep, I gained 25 pounds and never saw a pot or pan the whole year.
Moving off campus was the beginning of my culinary edification: mostly pasta with butter and steamed or boiled broccoli with Parmesan cheese (from that plastic shaker can). If there was extra money, I would eat out. And I was blessed to have a good friend who was a great cook and he invited me over fairly often.
All the men I ever dated could cook, seemed to enjoy it and never made any noise about me cooking for them. Probably because I had served them all one of my home cooked meals and they realized the problem…
Once I began working full time, nearly every mid day meal was out with colleagues or lunch meetings where food was brought in. Breakfast was cereal and dinner was from the lunch doggie bag, or crap snacks, or often skipped altogether.
When I moved into my current home I made a conscious resolution to learn to cook. I now had a place of my own I could entertain in. I asked friends who were great cooks if they would come to my house and let me watch and help them create a meal for us. They told me the menu and gave me an ingredients list. I bought the groceries, provided the kitchen and then cleaned up after. It was great fun, I learned a few things and we split the leftovers.
Still, I didn’t cook.
That was eight years ago.
I still don’t cook.
Cooking isn’t my zone of genius, plus the end result, while edible, isn’t usually very palatable. I have inadvertently created occasional meals that taste yumtastic to me so I believe there is hope for me yet.
I think there is a journey of healing in store for me if I can begin to honor myself by feeding myself with my own hands, my own service to me.
I’m creating and DOING my own personal restaurant junkie rehab program. For 30 days I plan to eat at least three meals per day, nearly every one of them prepared by me in my kitchen. Ideally they will include something cooked in at least two of the meals each day… not just smoothies and salads with canned beans. I am willing to make exceptions if other people would like to cook for me <hint hint>. And I’m willing to revive the “please come cook at my house” lessons.
FYI – I expect to fail a few times, especially since I am surrounded by dear ones who LOVE to eat out. However I am unwilling to quit or give up. Here’s why: In May of 2014 I had an awesome experience visiting a friend of mine out of state. Part of my desire to visit was based on all these recipes she shared (and actually cooked herself) on Facebook. I wanted to hang out while she cooked and eat like she ate – vegetarian. She let me know before I arrived that we would be having lunch with several different friends of hers during the course of my stay. To me, lunch with friends means restaurants. When I got there though, we ate every meal at her house or one of her friend’s homes. For 8 days I ate every single meal from pots and pans I could see and touch, ovens I could peer into and lids I could lift. It was fantastic… beyond nourishing for both my body and my soul. THAT’s what I’m interested in creating.
I could really use your support, especially in the form of veggie friendly, plant strong recipes that are light on oil, creatively yummy on seasonings, uncomplicated, quick and tasty. Hmmm… is that too much to ask? Be sure and post (or link) in the comments so everyone can share the home cookin’ love. 🙂
Also, let me know if you’d like to play along… I’m creating a FB page, Restaurant Junkie Rehab, where I’ll post every day on my progress and you can too (on your own progress or mine, lol). First update Thursday, Feb 19.
I am giving myself a few days to plan and prepare – especially since the only “real” food I currently have in my house is left over white rice from a local Thai restaurant, two apples, a bag of frozen seasoned potatoes, seven cans of beans and five overripe bananas.
big love and immensely nourishing hugs,