“Cooker’s Block”

takeoutmenu-002Writers occasionally succumb to bouts of writer’s block.  Hopefully it is temporary, and hopefully, sooner rather than later, some event, circumstance, or person strikes like a bolt of lightening and inspires the writer back to his or her work.  Lately, I have been experiencing something of a “cooker’s block”.  Since I write about what I cook, I find myself in the interesting situation of being “double-blocked”. 

My bolt of lightening came not so much as an inspiration back into the kitchen, but more as a realization that this “cooker’s block” is something that a lot of people face every single day.  For so many people, the idea of producing some sort of meal each night for their family is a huge chore.   This task is made worse by the fact that most people work all day and by the time they get home are likely tired, and getting creative in the kitchen is just not a reality.  Even for people who enjoy cooking, or those who don’t work outside the home, making dinner is sometimes just too overwhelming a task.  This is why so many people have their favorite pizza place on speed-dial, or find themselves eating cereal for dinner. 

I have several friends who joke that they have about four or five “signature”  meals that just get rotated because they just can’t seem to think of anything else to make, or don’t have the time to try anything new.  I also know people who have take-out several times a week but really aren’t happy about it (or the expense).   “I’m sure you are making something fabulous for dinner, right?”  they say.  Well, it’s true that most nights I actually love making dinner.  It is just my thing.  I love coming up with new ideas and trying them out.  They aren’t all fabulous, believe me, but normally, it is a time of day to which I look forward.  But lately, I’ve jumped ship to their boat.  I just don’t feel like coming up with anything.  The thought of trying to put together a nutritionally balanced meal gives me a headache.  If I can make something that takes under 10 minutes and doesn’t use any pots or pans, I feel like I’ve won the lottery for the night.

So, after all this self-disclosure, of course I have no recipe for you today…how could I?  What I do have is a new understanding for what most people go through on a nightly basis.  I know I’ll come out of my food-funk soon (and by extension, my writer’s block!).  After all, my CSA has just begun and there are few things I hate more than wasting food!  That in mind, I will be sure to include a few recipes per month that are just what the doctor ordered on those “I don’t want to cook” nights. 

So, cooks and non-cooks unite—-we  all end up in the same boat sometimes.

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4 Responses to ““Cooker’s Block””

  1. Helpinahandbag Says:

    I totally have cookers block about 5 night out of the week. I am so done with trying to prepare something new for just my daughter and myself. She is picky and won’t eat a lot of things. Makes it hard to switch it up.

    I did make a new spaghetti sauce using a meat alternative and organic sauce that was AWESOME and she loved it!

  2. Rebecca Friedman Says:

    Hi Tracy!

    Great post. As a chef and caterer, I also have to deal with routine meal preparations. Those nights when there are no adoring clients to applaud (and pay for) my culinary triumphs. I have a few standards that I run to when I am just too tired or crotchety to be full of inspiration:

    1. Pita Pizza – use whole wheat miniature pitas (Trader Joe’s sells great organic ones!) and top with a really high quality marinara sauce (I love Paesana), a drizzle of EVOO, a crushed clove or two of fresh garlic, italian seasoning, and shredded mozzarella. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or so, checking frequently.

    2. Entree Salads – I use greens as a canvas for just about anything! Start with fresh, organic lettuce (I prefer romaine, baby spinach and redleaf) and then go nuts with any combination of fruits, nuts, cheese, olives, avocado, tomato, etc. I am partial to blueberries, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and pecans.

    3. Broiled Fish – Line your toaster oven tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 450. Use 4-6 ounce portions of fresh, high quality fish such as trout. Top with garlic, chopped fresh herbs, EVOO, sea salt & fresh pepper, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon. Broil for 5-10 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.

    FYI, these recipes are all kid favorites. If your kids don’t like something, just keep serving it and ignore their complaints. Eventually they will get hungry and eat! I have seen kids go from not touching a leaf of anything green to having third helpings of salad. If you serve it, they will eat!

  3. Sacredartist Says:

    Hi Tracy,
    I just wanted to mention that your picture reminded me of a friend from New Zealand that sent me a menu that she made of her favorite meals. It was so inspiring that they made me want to try making a menu of my favorites. Just seeing them as a menu makes your meal looks special…especially if it was written in flowery words that reflect the kind of ‘resturant’ you would love to be working in…rather than just your family kitchen. I would love to see what a menu you might prepare would look like.

    One thing that I like to do is to make a personal cookbook. Just writing and looking for recipes gets my juices flowing.

  4. Tracy Says:

    Wow… Thx for sharing all these fantastic ideas!! Pita pizzas and using my toaster oven for quick broiling are some of my favorite weeknight shortcuts!!
    When I entertain i love to place a little menu on the table describing the meal… It’s a nice little touch to make the meal more special!! I have also used Tastebook.com to create a collection of family recipes, which allows you to have full colored pages of your recipes in a hard covered book . Check it out!

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