I just remembered another reason why I never cooked in The States before: 1. It’s expensive.In China, I attempted to cook most of my meals when I thought the bad, often reused oil in the dingy restaurants was a cause for the acne breaking out all over my face (read about that here). Cooking at home also turned out to be very economical; I could buy a week’s worth of vegetables, meats and fruits for less than $20. Unlike Thailand, it was cheaper than eating out.
Fast forward to the now, I just spent about $70 at the grocery store, and that’s probably not the only time I’ll have to go this week. Partly, it’s due to my not having any of the basics for this cooking homework I’ve so
stupidly brilliantly assigned myself (why didn’t I choose sewing, orfantasy football, or even animated films with clay figures, like some of my classmates?), so I have to buy all the scratch materials, including sugar, salt, oyster sauce, flour, etc. It all adds up quickly.
This week, I decided to make Chinese Spring Rolls (also called Egg Rolls), which meant not only did I have to go to the regular grocery store, but I had to find an Asian market to buy authentic rice wrappers. I was, however, pleased to find at least four exist in Fort Collins and one is dedicated solely to Indian food. Score!
2. Not only did I have to go to two markets, but I also had to go to a liquor store. This recipe called for 1tbsp of white wine and, guess what fellow Oregonians? You cannot buy wine in Colorado grocery stores, nor can you buy beer over a certain alcohol limit.
Colorado loses big points for this massive inconvenience. Luckily, it makes up for it elsewhere.
At the liquor store, I stood in the aisle and wondered which kind of white wine I was supposed to use, and if the recipe would even notice if that tiny tablespoon of liquid was missing. If it had been any other substance, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered. I love wine, and any excuse to drink it is fine by me. The problem? I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a bottle of white before. I’m a red girl, through and through. I navigate those aisles easily – from Malbecs, Cabs, Merlots, Pinot Noirs; I like them all – but the whites? They are foreign to me.
I chose the only one I remember liking, a Pinot Grigio from Cupcake Winery, and an Argentian Malbec, just for good measure.
I followed this detailed (with photos and tips!) recipe from Jaden at Steamy Kitchen,and the process went rather smoothly, if a three-hour process for anything can be considered smooth. Which brings me to my next reason to hate cooking – 3. It’s way too timeconsuming. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but damn. Three hours and two glasses of wine later (hey, I had to try the white stuff, and there’s a lot left after that tiny, required tablespoon), I finally had a rack of fried ovals filled with ground turkey (the store was out of chicken…) and vegetables.
Then I ate too many, dipping each savory bite in sweet chili sauce (it takes me back to Thailand every time). 4. I always eat too much. When I felt sick, I left them on the counter with a note that said, “Help Yourself!”
What I meant by that was, “Please, dear roomies. Eat these before I do.”
And then, because this whole cooking thing took up the majority of my Sunday afternoon, I moved from kitchen to desk for some overdue study time. The
glass bottle of white wine came too.
When I emerged, all but one of the spring rolls were gone. I devoured it and then patted myself on the back for a job well done. I’d say these Chinese spring rolls were a hit, but that might just be the wine talking.
I’m feeling more confident in veering from the recipe, if only slightly. Not to say I did that, exactly, because I’m pretty sure choosing a wine and using ground turkey instead of chicken don’t exactly qualify as straying too far from the book, but they’re a start. And I do feel as though I will eventually be able to use it as a guide, not a rule.
Also, despite the negativity of this essay, it’s not all hate. I am beginning to enjoy the process. It does take my mind off things, gives me a goal to work toward and a reward at the finish. I’m even starting to cook breakfast more regularly, and dinners too, though not as elaborate as the Asian dishes I attempt here. Over time, and when this class assignment is over, I’ll be curious to see if I continue to spend a few hours of my nights/weekends cooking up something I’ve never tried before, or if I’ll simply revert back to the excuses I’ve used before: too expensive, too inconvenient, too time consuming, and I don’t want to cook it because I don’t want to eat it.
Only time will tell.