Learning to Cook After 52+ Years

#100Days (Day 5/100)

The extent of my cooking ability is making breakfast. Your basic eggs, bacon (or sausage), and toast. In a pinch, I can even make a pretty decent omelet. In, fact, when I was in the Navy and had to do my 8-week "kitchen duty" on the ship, I got promoted up to the officers mess, and would run the skillet most mornings. It was fun cooking breakfast for all the officers.

But whipping up some eggs & bacon is a far cry from actually cooking.

In late 2020, several months into the COVID19 pandemic, our daughter suggested we try one of those meal kit food delivery services. We'd seen one on Shark Tank before (I think it was Plated), but never really considered trying one. She was using Home Chef and raved about it. She helped my wife setup an account, ordered our first box of meals, enrolled in auto-ship, and then we waited.

Several days later, a small nice looking box arrived on our front porch. We were pleasantly surprised to find everything neatly packaged and labeled, along with easy instructions and recipe cards for each meal. Any meat that was needed for the recipes was individually packaged at the bottom of the box under some insulated packing material. Everything was surround by ice packs. So far, we were impressed and ready to try out the meals.

I don't recall the first recipe my wife decided to make. Most of them take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to prepare. Everything is pre-portioned, sometimes pre-cut, and there is a simple recipe card to follow. When you order your meals, they give you the overall prep time so you can decide how much work you're willing to put in. 😋

Anyway, back to that first recipe... It was amazing! Hands down better than most meals we would get in a restaurant! We were both a bit surprised, in a good way! This could work, and it would definitely help lower our restaurant budget category which was out of control!

So, fast forward a few months and we've been using Home Chef for approximately four dinner meals per week, give or take. Honestly, we've not had a single bad meal yet. Each recipe is different so there is a lot of variety, and they are all delicious! I'm not exaggerating either, the meals are really really good!

One day when my son & his family were over visiting, they mentioned a meal kit service they were using called Hello Fresh. They had a referral code that would give us $70 off our first order, so we decided to give that one a try too! I setup the account and ordered our first box of 8 meals (4 meals per week for 2 people). When the order arrived, my wife made one of the recipes for dinner that night. Again, AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!

Up until this point, my wife had been making all the recipes herself. I would just sit in the living room watching TV or playing on my laptop like a useless lump of goo, while she worked in the kitchen making our dinner.

Then Valentine's Day rolled around... I suggested I could make our next meal all by myself as a Valentine's Day gift for her. She loved the idea! I wasn't so sure yet.

Dinner time was approaching. I checked the refrigerator and looked through the recipe cards. Thai Coconut Chicken Curry looked like a winner. She was in agreement. Game on!

I'm not going to lie, it felt like a lot of work. Even with a well written recipe, giving me step-by-step instructions, it was a lot to coordinate since there were several things all going on at once. I would be cutting/slicing/dicing some ingredients, while cooking meat in a frying pan, and making some sort of sauce in another pan. I know, I know... Those of you who cook a lot are probably laughing at me right now. My wife was definitely laughing at me!

The more I got into it though, and as things progressed along toward the final dish, I realized I was actually having a lot of fun. Cooking felt good to me. I especially loved that I knew every ingredient going into the meal we were about to enjoy. There weren't any chemicals I couldn't pronounce either. Just good wholesome real food. Hey, look honey, I'm actually cooking! 😁

Well, I'm happy to report, that meal was a huge hit! I knocked it out of the park. We both savored every bite. I'm sure my wife enjoyed it even more than I did since she didn't have to prepare it that night.

Since that meal, we have prepared every subsequent recipe together. We've worked side-by-side as a team in the kitchen. I mainly prep (cut/peel/chop/dice/etc) and I make the sauces. It's really been a lot of fun for both of us, and I feel like it's actually bringing us closer together. Is that even possible after 32 years of marriage?? I think it is!

And after 52 years on this earth (turning 53 in June), I'm finally learning how to cook. Sure, everything is pre-selected, portioned and packaged for each meal, I get it. But I'm learning what goes into a recipe and how to put it all together in the correct order. Also, the recipes can be used again and again if you simply buy the same ingredients at the grocery store.

I'm learning how simple it is to combine a lot of the same basic ingredients in different ways to make very different things. Take sauces for instance. I've been amazed at how easy it is to whip up some really delicious sauces with a few very basic ingredients. Who knew?!?

Needless to say, I've been having having a lot of fun doing it, and I'm really enjoying this new quality time with my wife.

After trying a few more meals from Hello Fresh, my wife decided she likes Home Chef better. It's not about the quality of the food or recipes, they are both top-notch. But we don't need two meal kit services, and she just prefers the recipe choices from Home Chef. They have more selections that are almost "oven ready" and don't require as much prep time as the ones from Hello Fresh. So, I cancelled Hello Fresh after two boxes (8 meals) and we are continuing with Home Chef.

If you're interested in trying it out, we have a Home Chef referral link that will get you $35 off your first box. It also gives us $35 off our next order, so that's a pretty nice bonus they give all their customers.

Let me know what you think, and happy cooking!

Dinner Time Update: Michele fell asleep watching the evening news, so I decided to surprise her and make another meal by myself. Firecracker Meatballs over a bed of jasmine rise with a side of roasted carrots. Damn, it was good!

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