My mom loves to remind me of the time she advised me to help her with cooking, because it was something I’d have to know how to do as a grown-up. “I’ll just eat out every night,” I told her, very matter-of-factly. She probably laughed out loud, right then and there — or if she didn’t, she should have. Who can afford to eat out every night? Not non-millionaires like me, I can tell you that much.
It’s not that I was so arrogant as to believe I’d have diamonds hanging off me when I grew up — I just didn’t get it. Mom made food, and it was good, and I didn’t want to screw it up by trying to help. One of my earlier cooking memories is running outside and down into my mom’s garden, arms flailing, with the frantic message that I’d added the yolk into some recipe that only called for egg whites. The sky was falling! And skillful chef, was I not.
Needless to say, I’ve never felt comfortable in the kitchen. To this day, my lunch for the week usually consists of leftover beans, frozen veggies and seasoning I’ve thrown into a pan and proceeded to scald. The Mister kindly and in the nicest way possible alerted me to this Cracked.com article, “5 Simple Things That Every Bad Cook Does Wrong” by John Cheese. I was less than amused to find that my poor excuse for a cooking style definitively falls into at least three of the five no-no categories: I throw in way too many spices, overcook everyone and mess with ingredients, incessantly. But recognizing my weaknesses has empowered me to want to get it right. I mean, shit, I’m a wife now. It’s not that cooking is something I have to know how to do as a woman, but if I’m a self-sufficient human being who can make heady life decisions like marriage, I should know how to put ingredients in a pot and stir.
Maintaining a meat-free diet isn’t all that challenging, but I have to admit, my menu fatigue has been nudging me to give up on procrastination and get better acquainted with the kitchen. Two years of subsisting mainly on bean medleys, stir-frys and salads is all well and good…until it gets old.
Luckily, I have my handy-dandy That’s a Tasty Dish board on Pinterest. Below, I’ve shared some of the favorites I’ve collected, which look tasty, healthy, and most importantly, not terrifyingly complicated:
- MAZA’s Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Feta (top left)
- Proud Italian Cook’s Zucchini Boats (top right)
- Manifest Vegan’s Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup (bottom left)
- The Yummy Life’s Spinach Strawberry Salad (bottom right)
- For the Love of Cooking’s Vegetable Tian (top left)
- Good Life Eats’ Cucumber Feta Rolls (top right)
- Kori-Lynn’s Avocado Salad Bowls (bottom left)
- Yummy Mummy Kitchen’s Nectarine and Goat Cheese Pizza (bottom right)
- Alexandra Cook’s Eggplant Involtini (top left)
- Namely Marley’s Spinach Hummus (top center)
- Food & Wine‘s Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (top right)
- The Nourishing Gourmet’s Garlicky White Bean Soup with Dark Greens (bottom left)
- Skinny Taste’s Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries (bottom center)
- In Italy’s Insalata Caprese (bottom right) — note, recipe from Pinterest is no longer available
I’m not a huge fan of tofu, but the New York Times’ “A New View of Tofu” offers some simple tips to make tasty dipping sauces for the otherwise rather bland block of protein. Check out an older post, Vege-What?! Three Weeks of Meat-Free Goodness too, for a three weeks of simple vegetarian dishes I compiled when my husband gave the herbivore lifestyle a temporary try.