Jenny the Broke Foodie and I go waaaayyyyyy back. I think we were in our teens when we met. We were certainly in college. She did not cook in those days. Or maybe she did but I was too drunk to notice. Hard to say. College was like that. Also, she and I were usually in spaces with no kitchens such as rehearsal spaces and dressing rooms of our theatre department, which means that Jenny is officially my first guest poster who can say she’s seen me in my underwear.
If the image of me in my skivvies hasn’t totally ruined your appetite, you should start getting ready to drool a little when you read this post. Jenny has become all about food in recent years and is channeling her passion for cooking into one of the coolest food blogs I’ve ever seen. Broke Foodie is the site you need to be reading if you, like Jenny, have champagne tastes and a beer budget. Or even if you have champagne tastes and a champagne budget because her recipes will save you money on food and allow you to buy more champagne. And who doesn’t want more champagne?
I can’t say I’ve tried all the recipes listed below but I did make that peanut butter fudge this week. And while I can usually safely say that no bloggers have been harmed in the writing of this blog, that is not the case this time. Though the recipe appears to be foolproof, this fool decided to melt the peanut butter to make it easier to mix. And decided to see if it was melted by sticking her finger in molten peanut butter. Yeah, I know. Please don’t mock me. And I’m looking at you Peggey since I know you’re reading this. And Jenny. And you too Pockets. I mean it! Stop laughing! Don’t forget I’ve seen all of you in your skivvies too! Oh forget it. Just read Jenny’s post and head to your kitchen to start cooking!
Here are some of my favorite things, in no particular order:
- New York
- Jimmy Choos
- Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses
- Buenos Aires
- Foie gras
- Any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants
- Jamon iberico
- Molecular gastronomy
11. Audis and BMWs, especially those over 300 hp
12. Soft, runny French cheeses that smell like dead people’s feet
Sensing a theme?
These are all very lovely, and very expensive, things.
Here is the balance in my checking account:
After bills, here’s how much will be left of my next paycheck:
So what’s a gal with expensive tastes and no money to do?
Learn to cook.
This is not as counterintuitive as it sounds. While I can’t manufacture my own Jimmy Choos or Aston Martin DBS, I can create obscenely delicious food in my own kitchen, using a bare minimum of expenditures, to rival the food in the best restaurants. I know this is true because the more restaurants I go to, the more times I come home saying, “Why did I just pay for that? I could have made that at home. And it would have tasted better. And I wouldn’t have had to pay for parking. And I could have worn my pajamas while doing it.” And the more I cook, the easier it gets.
I know what you’re going to say: “But I have a full-time job, an hour-long commute, and three kids! I barely have time to shower, much less cook.” Or maybe, “My kids will only eat Annie’s mac and cheese and McDonald’s chicken nuggets. It’s all I can do to make them choke down apple slices.” Or even, “I’m perfectly happy with frozen Lean Cuisine, Miss Snotty Pants. Get off my back.”
Ah, but: I spend an average of $160 per month on food. For two people. For every meal and every snack, every day. That includes eating out, which, granted, we don’t do a lot of these days.
(Full disclosure: I’m still trying desperately to get my stepson to choke down something, anything, that doesn’t come from a fast-food restaurant. He’d rather go 48 hours without food than eat a vegetable. I’ve seen him do it. If you know a solution, email me pronto.)
I will admit cooking has a learning curve, and I will also admit that it took several years of trial and error and concentrated effort to shape me into the home cook extraordinaire I am today. But you know what? Cooking is one of the best skills you can acquire. It’s like being able to drive stick, or spell, or stay calm in an emergency, or pick out a quality handbag. Even if you don’t use it every day, that skill will never do you wrong. You’ll always be a more versatile, more self-reliant person because of it. And there are the other obvious reasons: home-cooked food is healthier. It tastes better. It creates less waste. It’s cheaper. It’s not a hotbed of preservatives, hormones, chemicals, salmonella and high-fructose corn syrup. Most importantly, it tastes better.
But you know all that. To learn how to cook, you just gotta start. At base, cooking is just following directions. Anyone can follow directions. To wit, here are some of my quickest, easiest, beginner-friendly recipes.
Thaw the puff pastry, cut it into strips, dust with cheese. Cook. Done.
Pop the popcorn in leftover bacon grease. Really. For extra win, sprinkle some truffle salt on top.
The recipe is in the title. Best. Sandwich. Ever.
Five ingredients, no cooking. You could be eating homemade fudge two minutes from now.
Buy a pork shoulder. Put it in the oven for ten hours. Eat it. So easy.
And a little something to wash all that down:
If you have an oven and aren’t afraid of it, here’s a compilation of pizza recipes that will make you want to dry-hump your pizza stone. I make my own pizza crust (total cost: about 25 cents) but you could use the pre-made kind too, I guess. If you had to.
And if you’re feeling really adventurous:
Mac and Cheese for Grown-Ups (this involves stinky cheese, spinach and truffle oil)
One day I will be rich and famous, and my nubile Argentinean pool boy will bring me 60-year-old bottles of Burgundy while I lounge gracefully in the hot tub. Then my husband, who now magically resembles Brad Pitt circa 1991, will massage my feet and compliment my size-4 ass and remind me that Manolo Blahnik is stopping by before the dinner party later to get my opinion on his new line before I jet off to Australia.
And hey, you can always order some bacon chocolate, drink it with a bottle of wine, and call it dinner. I won’t judge.