Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I believe I have said this before, but this time, I mean it.

I am learning to cook! It's time. It's past time. I cannot live off of cheese ravioli tossed in balsamic vinegar the rest of my life.

And this is a long process. I could be biting off more than I can chew (ha! no pun intended... seriously) because in the process of learning to cook, I am buying more groceries than usual (y'all would be surprised to know how long a box of Cheerios and some Ragu and spaghetti lasts in my house). So here's how I see it. Learning to cook means planning recipes; planning recipes requires buying more groceries; buying more groceries dictates learning how to shop smartly.

So Saturday night, with the rain pouring and still in my PJs and glasses, I pulled out some index cards, all my back issues of Real Simple, poured some wine and went to town. It was quite romantic, let me tell you. But by the end of the night, I had watched about 12-15 Golden Girls episodes and had about 20-30 recipes and meals to try. That's what I call a Win-Win. Step one.

Step Two. During a slow afternoon at work, I went to one of the famous couponing sites and poked around. Now I need a coupon for Tums because those web sites stress me out!! Antacids should be its own tab on those web sites. You will need them either now or in the store. I know I am not the only one who find them hard to read, hard to navigate, hard to understand... I am going to start one called Couponing for Dummies and there will be no lingo, no cutesy terms - just the basics, spelled out in black and white. This is of course provided I ever learn how to do this in the first place. But you gotta start somewhere, right? Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A:
Coupon clipping SCARES me. It's no secret that mama can't do math - and reading receipts is hard. Kroger makes you work for it. Truly. I tried once at Target and did okay for some cereal. But that's one transaction. Look at that stack of coupons in that picture. That's more than one transaction. But, in a truly genious moment while recipe-copying, I realized if I can't learn to do this while I am shopping for one, it's only going to be harder when (if?) I ever shop for two.... or three!

So armed with my coupons and some of the recipes I especially wanted to try, I made my grocery list. Some things I had coupons for, some of them I didn't. I'm pretty sure I got a good deal on my Cheerios. Know what else I got a good deal on?

Steaks!!! Cha-ching. I. Love. Meat. I crave it. I just have never had a great confidence that I can cook it on my stovetop. But all those Real Simple recipes said to sear the darned things and be done with it - no grill required. If you say so, Real Simple. So I snatched up a pack of four petite sirloins for under $6, bought some spices and made a little rub. One ridiculously burned pan and a few minutes later, I had this: Exhibit B!
I was really frustrated because of all the burning - in fact I'm pretty sure that pan might be ruined. But, the steak was good and I learned a lesson (put something wet in the pan before beginning!) I even remembered to take it off the heat and let it sit for a moment and keep cooking itself - which resulted in a nice, pink center. I didn't bother making anything else to go with it, since I was so busy attending to the little steak, but next time I have a few side dishes in mind I want to try.

So. Moral of the story? This feels like a huge notch in my belt. I made a GOOD steak on my stovetop! If I can do that, I can do anything! Well.... we'll see.

Also, I am aware I am probably doing this backwards. Arent' you supposed to buy what's on sale and then plan your menu around that? Oh well. I'll get it right eventually. Even Julia Child had to start somewhere though, right?


  1. All you need is some butter in the pan. My best advice on steak is buy great meat, put butter in a super hot pan, put butter on the steak, put it on the pan for 3 minutes each side. Taste the meat. Sometimes I like to sear it for less time and put it on low heat on the grill for a few minutes

  2. when can i come over for din din!

  3. Back to back comments here. I won't mention the amount of time I spent this afternoon on the couponing web sites and printing out those coupons this afternoon. That stack looks VERY familiar. I'm determined to figure this out. And, I did see a coupon for Tums today.

  4. where can I sign up for Couponing for Dummies? 'cause those sites make me feel like a dummy.

    I'm proud of you! I'll try to think of some quick easy recipes to send your way. but RS is a good place to start -- the ingredient lists are short, which is nice. I just spotted their new cookbook at TJ -- you should look for it.

    also, I'm glad I'm not the only girl out there who gets a serious hankering for red meat now and then ... (or more than that, whatever)

  5. I really am going to start a dummies couponing site.

    "If you want to buy Cheerios- go right ahead. Kroger has them on sale this week for $2 off a regular box - all you have to do is buy them and use your Kroger card. BUT if you use this coupon that you can print online HERE then you can save another dollar per box. The end."

    Erin, when you blogged about this earlier this week, I could hardly contain myself.

  6. "put something wet in the pan before beginning"

    HAHA. i love it! learning to cook is fun, i'm working on it too. I still haven't mastered a good steak... you've one upped me already.


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