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Wednesday, Sep 03, 2014

Hill: Cooking? Vacuuming? Yeah, I’ll pass

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Cooking no longer appeals.

It used to, but hasn’t for about five years.

So almost automatically the food cart heads to the frozen food aisle at my Publix the minute those automatic doors open, which is usually several times a week.

There, the basket quickly fills with Lean Cuisines, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice, Stouffer’s, Atkins, Evols, Kashis and an eclectic selection of other only moderately healthy/and or unhealthy frozen entrees that have pretty pictures on the box that look absolutely nothing like the stuff that’s inside.

Buy one/get one free can even prompt me to toss stuff in the cart that I know going in will certainly not be reminiscent of meals at Harvey’s or Bella Brava. Even Taco Bell, as in those frozen breakfast quesadillas.

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I know. I know. I should cook. I should do a lot of things. Vacuum. Mop the floors. Buy fewer shoes.

But those things have less appeal than cooking.

I do fix an egg in the morning in the microwave. I even bought another George Foreman grill and bought a couple of steaks a few weeks back.

The first steak was tasty. But not that tasty. The second ended up in the freezer, where it remains.

You think I can cook a frozen steak on the George Foreman?

Even crockpot recipes are failures. If — IF — the ingredients end up in my fridge, they languish long past the sell-by date or I forget what I was going to do with it.

Yes, there are plastic pot protectors that line the crockpot so it doesn’t have to be washed. But there doesn’t seem to be a way to create a home-cooked meal without some dirty dishes.

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Call me lazy. Or burned out (no pun intended). I’d prefer the latter. But I’d rather do almost anything else than clean up dirty dishes.

After all, I did it for hmmfph years. Even cooked special meals for one kid who only liked his chicken breasts boneless. He grew, by the way, into an extremely wonderful man who now has to deal with a daughter who is a picky eater. Ah, payback.

Anyway, his special orders only added to what was my growing distaste for my own home cooking.

For years after the kids married and had kids of their own, I’d fix Sunday dinners. I finally stopped when there were more kids and grands than chairs, plates and silverware.

Plus, I’d have to vacuum before they came so they wouldn’t whisper to each other, “Is she losing it? Doesn’t she realize there’s a blanket of cat and dog hair on the carpet?”

Yes, I realized it. But I grew to hate vacuuming almost more than I detested cooking. That’s about when I stopped cooking. And vacuuming.

Obviously, I’m not alone in my disdain for turning on the stove.

Many families with kids are so busy and stressed out that they end up getting takeout or eating out all the time.

In an unofficial survey that I’ve been conducting recently in the grocery store, I’ve noticed many folks my age and older who appear to be shopping for meals for one or two gather in the frozen-food aisle. Many of them stand as if dumbstruck at the astonishing array of dinners in front of them, all with delicious-sounding names: Mediterranean Balsamic Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Peach Barbecue Chicken and so forth.

Almost all of the dinners taste only remotely like their names imply and have too much salt and added sugar to be called even somewhat healthy.

Those of us viewing the inventory through the glass doors often strike up conversations.

“Have you tried this?” an older gentleman asked me the other day while holding out an item I had tried but didn’t care for. I wrinkled my nose. He sighed and put it back in the freezer case.

I’ve sampled several “all you have to do is cook it” services. But that’s the problem. You have to cook it. If it isn’t pre-cooked so all I have to do is warm it in the microwave I don’t want it.

Eating out three meals a day isn’t much healthier — on the body or the pocketbook.

Publix, Sweetbay, Fresh Market and Rolling Oats have “grab and go” items, but no large selection.

So help me out here. If you have any ideas about quick and easy meals that don’t require cooking, let me know. I’ll share the good ones.

Not salad, though. I love salad. Crispy lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, croutons and dressing.

I love it. But salad definitely doesn’t love me.

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