Sunday, November 1, 2009

Introduction Post (And All That Fancy Stuff)

Welcome to my Blog!

My name's Serenity and I'll be your narrator *AND* tour person throughout this Blogging adventure. It's a new year for me - which may confuse you, dear reader, because it's not yet January 01, 2010. My spiritual New Year is October 31st, known as Samhain (pronounced Sow wihn) amongst the Pagans and Wiccans. From the cards I read, it appears that this following year will be full of adventure, emotional stuff, and good times.

I know the HTML link states "Girl" in the title, but I got to thinking and, well, it occurred to me that even though some males profess being allergic to the kitchen, some males actually do cook. So, for all the males out there, it's okay to read this blog - go ahead, I won't tell!

So, why am I starting this blog? Well, there's blogs about living single and a few Web sites on cooking for one. However, unless you have a family of four to ten, there's not much out there, especially if you're like me and have a fairly strict diet. I eat gluten-free, minimal processed foods (re: low in sodium, no corn syrup, no high fructose corn syrup), and I sort of shop the outside of the store as opposed to the middle section. I also try to stay away from high caloried foods because I'm trying not to gain any weight while on insulin. I believe in eating whole foods - foods that enhance my health, if you will, because living with diabetes AND mitral valve prolapse is pretty challenging within itself, not counting all the other goodies (health conditions) I got for free!

However, gluten free isn't cheap and neither are whole foods. Even using the skills my mom taught me while she was raising my brother and I on even tighter means, I'm stumped. Coupons? Bulk? Sale prices? Comparison shopping? Check, check, check, and check. Coupons are mostly good for processed foods and household cleaning products, so I use them when I can, when appropriate. I love those "buy one get one free" sales because it means I can stock up on things I do eat. Whole Foods offers 10% discounts when you order cases, so that comes in handy ... if you have a car and don't take the bus (like I do). I keep a running tally in my head of which store has the best price for which foods (Target, Walmart, Giant's, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's). It can get fairly exhaustive if your only means of transportation is public transportation, bike, or foot. I could create a plan, but that would require too much for planning for my attention-issue-riddled mind - most of my energy goes towards surviving the work week. I create meals around what is cheap, in the bulk bins at Whole Foods, or what's on sale. But, after the second week in a row, even most excellent foods, like taco soup, can start to look a little, well, gross.

I even reuse plastic take-out containers that I come across and check-out books at the local public library to save on costs (because, with my latest addiction to reading the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series, my book-buying habits would be seriously high). I don't subscribe to cable, make the most of my Internet connection with Netflix and other network TV shows online, and even multi-task my furniture (the ironing board makes a great clothes folding table and the floor is great for reading, eating, sleeping, etc.). I'm doing everything right and saving where I can, but, still, money is tight. What's a single girl to do to survive these days!?

That's when it hit me ...


No, not tag. Speed it up 10 or 20 years from when you were 10 and you get "Freezer". Ah ha! From experience, I know that three things don't freeze well: spaghetti squash, mushrooms, and lettuce. So, I pulled some staples out from my cupboards and fridge (cheese, canned beans, canned tomatoes, gluten-free pastas and the ground turkey I got on sale) and started thinking. Within four hours, I had enough meals to freeze for two weeks. I was so proud of my attention-issue riddled mind, that I almost took it out of it's handy skull-case and patted it. I had created spaghetti sauce, sauce for the gluten-free spinach lasagna, turkey meatloaf, turkey meatballs, and turkey casserole. I made a few of each and made sure there was enough to last for two weeks. While the spaghetti sauce simmered on high in the crockpot, I boiled potatoes, baked meatloaf, added frozen veggies, and - voila! - made homemade "TV dinners" for less than $80!

So, for the next year, I will be blogging about my experiences as I attempt to shake up my culinary life while creating homemade "TV dinners", so that when I finally have dragged my bike up three stories, I will no longer be tempted to snack while musing "What's for dinner?" or worry about cleaning up pots and pans as I'm trying to get ready for the next day and bed. Instead, I will do some major cooking one day out of every two weeks, and hopefully coming up with some creative ideas in the process. Even more importantly, I will try to avoid having the same thing every night, like I have before with my "Whatever is in the crockpot is dinner for the whole week" deal. My goal is to bring some zest (lemon or orange, it doesn't matter!) to my life through reviving my cooking! Because, trust me, it was either that or try and get a life and it's just easier to revamp my cooking life than the former!

Yes, I do live in a tiny apartment with a walk-through kitchen. To make it even more challenging, I still need to add the "daily lunch salad" and "guinea breakfast" prep to my "cook one day for two weeks" marathon. Like me, you might want to at least posses a small rice cooker, food processor, crock pot (LOVE!), plastic containers (I use whatever I have on hand in case something comes sliding out of the freezer and smashes into a thousand bits) and salad spinner (ok, that's for the lunch part - you, however, may not eat salads every day for lunch, like myself). Guinea pig breakfast prep, or guinea under foot, is optional. At the very minimal, you will need to know how to boil water, how to chop, and how to cook with a stove. If you don't know how to do any of these things, follow those links, Google it, ask your mom or friend, or whatever works. But, if you're tired of eating out all the time (which I can't do, for budget and diet reasons) or eating weird things out of cans, then I suggest it's a good year for learning to cook. If you can make toast and use a microwave without zapping yourself, then there's hope!

So, since I'm still in the process of eating the results of last weekend's cooking marathon, I will use the next coming weeks to describe how I break down my recipe ideas, to convert ordinary recipes to your taste (word to the wise: I love garlic!), and to may be - just may be - remember to bring your shopping list so that you can save some dough while living single ... and surviving!

And for disclaimer reasons because I don't like the idea of being sued, please follow up with your doctor if you want to change your diet. I sort of went gluten-free on my own because, at the time, I had no job, no health insurance, and figured "What the heck?" because I was tired of coughing up white-colored mucus and having cramps so bad I could have swore my uterus was trying to come out of my body. I do what I need to do for my body but, from what I hear through the grape vine, everyone's body is different and what works for me, may not work for you. Which is why, within the next week, I'll be blogging about how to change recipes to your taste, diet, and whatever. And no, I'm not responsible if you burn anything. So, you might want to add "Kitchen timer" to your Christmas wish list, too.

Until the next time, may your guinea pigs let you sleep through the night!

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