The first time I ever saw or heard of a quesadilla was when my younger brother decided to make some. In our kitchen. At home. It’s hard to express just how mind-boggling this was. YOU’RE cooking? But you’re in grade school! What are you making? What IS that? Where did you learn how to do that? I just couldn’t get my head around it. Another kid taught him. Suddenly my kid brother could cook something even our parents had never made.
Dang, it smelled good, too.
I spent the next nearly twenty years continuing to be a bad cook. Both of my brothers went on to spend at least a little while working in restaurants, where they learned to do things like fold cloth napkins in fancy ways.
The only culinary skills one learns in an office environment are how to use a plastic knife to cut chunks off a muffin or donut (apparently - but who is doing that??) and, if you’re lucky, how to slice a sheet cake.
I was in my early thirties before I decided it was time to learn how to cook. I didn’t start with quesadillas, though. I went through my cookbook collection and started with something fancy. It didn’t occur to me to work my way up from simple recipes first.
Thus I messed up a lot of perfectly nice groceries. It would have been discouraging, but I was hungry and I lived alone. I’m also extremely stubborn. I wasn’t going to quit just because I had to eat a few gallons of watery soup for lunch.
Something seems to have happened, where a lot of perfectly good adults out there have no idea how to cook. Everyone is ordering food delivery and not tipping. It turns out the delivery drivers are eating people’s fries, too. This is an all-around sorry state of affairs!
I don’t like delivery food for several reasons.
One, it takes freaking forever. Minimum half an hour even for the lowest quality.
Two, it’s lukewarm at best. Even if a delivery driver actually heated everything on a passenger-side griddle, by the time I got out to the curb to get it, it would no longer be piping hot. That’s assuming I eat it standing on the sidewalk.
Three, the trash. If I’m feeling too tired and sorry for myself to cook, it’s not like I’m magically going to want to haul out five times as much trash as usual.
There are two things I would do before I ordered delivery food, even though one of my favorite fast-casual places is two miles up the street. I would either make a sandwich or microwave a can of soup. I can say this with confidence because I do it every now and then.
How hungry does someone have to be before waiting for lukewarm delivery food for forty minutes actually seems easier than opening a can of soup?
Or making toast even?
My husband makes quesadillas sometimes. This is always funny to me because neither of us eats dairy. The plant-based cheese is finally stretchy enough to melt. It’s also funny because I never ate one until I was nearly forty! We usually have them for lunch on the weekend, though, because we take our roles seriously when we cook dinner.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, though. When either an adult or a child is building basic cooking skills, it just has to be easy and good enough to be its own reward. That’s motivation.
Sometimes, when I was learning to cook, I would just get out a cookie sheet and make veggie nuggets and tater tots. All I had to do was set a timer and flip them with a spatula. A nine-year-old could probably handle that.
When I was actually that age, nine? I could make a grilled cheese sandwich, scrambled eggs, canned soup, and cookies. I was also totally confident about making instant oatmeal, toast, and vast bowls of breakfast cereal. I wish I’d realized there were so many more simple and easy foods a child could cook, because I relied on these simple staples well into adulthood.
I still occasionally ate breakfast cereal for dinner into my thirties.
I could do that today, if I wanted, but it doesn’t even sound remotely appealing anymore. I guess I ate my quota. I cook “real food” now because it’s what I want to eat. It tastes good enough that it feels worth the effort.
We always eat a side vegetable (unless it’s a major part of the main course), and the secret is that hardcore power vegetables only take a few minutes to prep and cook. You can wash a head of broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage in seconds. You can chop it up in a minute or two. Broccoli microwaves for 4 minutes, cauliflower is 7, and you can stir fry half a cabbage in under 5 minutes as well. Kale, chard, collard greens, etc. Ten minutes from crisper to table.
The big secret there is that they cook faster than tater tots. They’re faster than waiting in line at the drive-thru, too.
Here’s another secret. You can pour out a bag of pre-made salad in seconds and throw anything you want on top. Quesadillas, grilled cheese, a donut. If half your plate is vegetables, it doesn’t matter what else you’re eating; suddenly it’s “part of a nutritious breakfast.”
There are several reasons why people “hate cooking,” and the second of these is not knowing how to make anything good. The first is having a perpetually dirty kitchen, and the third is living with selfish ingrates who do nothing but whine, complain, insult the food, and demand more. Those can be solved by making sure everyone in the household is “empowered” to DO THEIR FAIR SHARE. Roommates or whoever.
Start with quesadillas. Basically anyone over eight years old can learn to make a pretty good quesadilla, and after that, there are at least fifty easy meals within reach of a beginning cook. The faster and better we are at cooking simple meals, the more likely we are to think of eating at home first. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and you know the driver never touched your fries.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies