One of us had to develop some more culinary skills or we were going to starve to death.
It would be convenient for me to stop at one of Jasper’s many fast food restaurants after leaving the office. However, Zac and I have agreed that we aren’t going to live on a diet of burgers, fries, tacos and $5 footlongs.
Like many couples, we ate out a lot when we were dating. It really hasn’t been that difficult to forgo fast food, though.
We order pizza every now and then. I usually ask to eat at Milo’s when we go to Birmingham, and sometimes Zac takes me to lunch on Fridays.
Other than that, we prepare our own meals. Our waistlines are trimmer, and we save money too.
Not eating fast food has also forced both of us to learn our way around the kitchen. Of course, we’ve had our share of cooking disasters.
I made my own donuts once. They were edible, but my stake in the Krispy Kreme franchise is secure.
I also ruined a pot of mashed potatoes when I got distracted and drained the potatoes before they had softened. Here’s a tip for new cooks — it’s impossible to make mashed potatoes if the potatoes don’t mash.
Zac recently used baking powder to make some dark chocolate chip cookies because we didn’t have baking soda. They tasted okay, but the dough cooked in a little clump. Apparently, baking soda has something to do with cookies rising.
In spite of our mistakes, I think Zac and I have surprised ourselves and each other with how good we’ve gotten at cooking.
We have our own specialties. Zac makes awesome quesadillas, steaks and gravy biscuits.
He raves about my chicken and dressing (a poor imitation of my grandmother’s) and my jalapeno cheese corn muffins (a superior imitation of Rachael Ray’s jalapeno cheddar waffle sticks).
We’ve also made use of the Crock-Pot that one of Zac’s family members gave us as a wedding gift.
Contrary to my previous belief, slow cookers are not just good for soup and stew. Our “Fix-It and Forget-It” cookbook has recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts.
Scalloped potatoes and chicken is our favorite meal. We’ve also had pork chops, cider and barbecue cocktail smokies.
We haven’t begun to unleash the true power of our Crock-Pot, but it is always there for us when we don’t want to put a lot of thought or effort into dinner.
An unexpected consequence of learning to cook is that it has brought Zac and I closer as a couple.
Every Saturday, we discuss our dinner menu for the next week.
We almost always go grocery shopping together, and we have shared the responsibility for several meals, including our first Thanksgiving dinner and a lot of Sunday breakfasts.
I’m sure that some husbands and wives can’t be in the same kitchen together. I can just see someone throwing a little extra salt in a pot when the other spouse isn’t looking and the next thing they know they’re slapping each other with spatulas.
But Zac and I have always enjoyed cooking as a team. Cleaning up usually requires a joint effort too now that Wyatt is crawling around.
I had no interest in cooking when I married Zac. He volunteered to handle our dinners because he gets home at least two hours before I do every night. So I thought I would never have to learn where we keep the pots and pans.
Now, to my amazement, I find myself browsing through one of our cookbooks and trying to set aside time to fix something special.
I’ve realized that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore and the first bite of a dish that turned out right is better than anything you could order in a restaurant.
There’s no sense in going crazy and making everything from scratch, though.
Patricia Heaton summed up my motto on a recent episode of “The Middle” — “If you heat it at home, it’s homemade.”