Fancy vs Lazy Cooking: An Introduction


Clip art by Belthsazar_Liem,

I’ve never taken a cooking class, unless you count my year of home ec in middle school, where we did a semester of cooking and a semester of sewing. That was actually a lot of fun.


I’d learned the basics of cooking (and sewing) already from my parents, since when I was a kid we cooked at home every night, only going out to eat when we were on road trips. My parents were not what you would call foodies, however; they preferred home-cooked meals mostly because they were cheaper. We ate good, basic meals with plenty of vegetables and protein and not a lot of fancy prep. I always enjoyed them—eating has always been one of my favorite activities.


Then, when I was in college, I started cooking with my roommate Abbey in our dorm kitchen. Abbey and her mom were foodies, and Abbey had grown up cooking and baking all sorts of interesting things that I had only barely heard of. For a couple years, I served a sort of apprenticeship as Abbey’s sous-chef: she would buy cookbooks (this was before the internet) and pick out new recipes to try, and we would cook them together.


My parents had both been scarred as children by the southern style of cooking vegetables, which was basically boiling them until they were unidentifiable lumps of mush. It left them with an understandable distrust of turnip greens and Brussels sprouts. So, when we cooked together as a family, they tended to stick to a few tried-and-true favorites, like broccoli and green beans. With Abbey, I learned to cook and enjoy asparagus, spinach, stuffed green peppers, and all sorts of other veggies. It was like opening up a whole new, leafy green world.


Not that I was an instant convert to fancy cooking. Far from it! I discovered that I liked most vegetables if cooked properly, which was great. However, I was still, at base, a lazy person, and a lot of fancy cooking requires a ton of effort, including washing dishes, which I HATE. It wasn’t hard at all when I was cooking with someone else, especially someone who loved cooking, but it was a lot harder when I graduated college and was living on my own.


So my life as an adult has been a constant struggle between two opposing forces:


On the one hand, my desire to eat food that is not only tasty but healthy.


On the other hand, my complete hatred of anything resembling hard work.


I realized recently that there were other people like me out there, people who want to eat better and learn to love vegetables and balanced meals, but who hate labor-intensive recipes and, moreover, just don’t know where to start.


So I decided to post some of the recipes I use on my blog.


I think one of the things that turn people off from cooking is the fancy recipes that they print in newspapers and on cooking sites. A lot of those recipes are designed for people who love the intricate, involved crafting of a new medley of flavors and textures—people who are like artists where food is concerned, and who don’t mind hard work if it gets good results.


If you are one of those people, whom I will call Real Chefs, I just want to say I have nothing but the utmost respect for you. I love going to restaurants or your houses and tasting the amazing creations you put together. I love that YOU love the art you create in your kitchen. I wish I was more like you.


Unfortunately, I am a Lazy Chef, and I am perfectly willing to compromise (somewhat) on flavor, texture, and authenticity if it means that I can cook my whole meal in one pot in twenty minutes.


If that philosophy bothers you, then you probably shouldn’t read my posts.


If, on the other hand, you are a lazy person like me who is looking for ways to eat better while not spending all of your free time chained to the stove, read on!


Some of the recipes will stand alone, with just one recipe in the post.


Others will feature two versions of the recipe in a “Fancy vs Lazy” face-off, so that you can see how I convert the labor-intensive recipes of Real Chefs into better meals for Lazy Chefs. And I might poke fun at how seriously some people talk about cooking. Just a little.