There are so many new things that become a part of your life the day you say ‘I do’. My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary last Sunday and paid homage to our year of holy matrimony with a little cabin retreat, like you do when you’re from Nebraska. I’ve had some fun this week thinking about all the new things that we have ushered into our lives this year.
Some things come naturally with no conscious effort, like all your mental scripts being completely re-written to function in cooperation with your partner’s brain waves, for example. Talk about life changing! Then there are other new things to learn that don’t always come naturally.
Like cooking. You get married, and suddenly you have a kitchen! Or a place in your apartment that is at the least a very poor excuse for a kitchen. Your newlywed lovenest is outfitted with the finest toaster oven, plug-in electric range, and the smallest strip of formica countertop America has ever seen. You don’t think about the countertop much though, because it usually gets hidden by excess piles of dirty dishes because you don’t have a dishwasher. Young people are strong and able to work with their hands, so they don’t deserve dish washers. This is the way it goes.
Your quaint, romantic apartment kitchen lacks an oven as well because you’re still a young, resourceful lass who can solve problems like how to cook without an oven. Old, rich people can’t do that. That’s why they get ovens. (Long story short, don’t get your hopes up for culinary perfection this year.)
But because marriage is special, you don’t have to go without every domestic convenience. What you DO have in your mini-bar-size kitchen is an expensive Burr grinder, Chemex and Hario coffee brewing system taking up space on the aforementioned countertop. You have these expensive gifts because you registered for them and somebody actually bought them for you. Even though you don’t even have an oven, you can still make gourmet coffee anytime you want and reminisce about the years you spent slaving away as a barista to make money to pay for college.
So you spend your first year reading Gwyneth Paltrow cookbooks, tearing out recipes from the magazines you flipped through at your first dentist appointment without health insurance (the one you spent $200 on), and washing dirty dishes in the Anthropologie apron your maid of honor gifted you at your bridal shower. The height of glamour. All this time, you’re learning how to cook!
By the end of Year 1, you’re pretty much a beast at alternative cooking. You’ve checked ‘toaster oven lasagna’ and ‘artisan toast’ off your list of must-try’s, and you’re basically ready to have friends over for dinner sometime. You’ve also mastered the art of browning ground beef and not giving yourself food poisoning, so it’s time to share the news with the world.
Without further ado, I give you my Top Ten Recipes from 2014: My First Year of Wifery, or A List of the Most Delicious Things that Came Out of My Kitchen This Year. Cheers to marriage, our future, and the culinary advancements to come! Like the day I get an oven.
8. Cranberry Salad *
9. Chicken + Leeks *
10. Fettuccine Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus *
* The ones with stars on them are special, of course. They are recipes that came straight out of our kitchen, rather than stealing from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook or the Internet. So here are the basics to recreating my culinary inventions in your own modern home.
One bag of cranberries, chopped roughly
Two apples, diced
Three or four handfuls of a mixture of white and dark raisins
Two small bags of chopped walnuts
Honey and cinnamon to taste
Mix everything together
CHICKEN + LEEKS
Make some white rice
Cook two chicken breasts with some leeks (or green onion), sliced zucchini and mushrooms and lots of garlic and salt in a large skillet
Add heavy whipping cream to cooked chicken and simmer in large skillet
Serve creamy chicken and leeks over white rice
FETTUCCINE ALFREDO WITH ROASTED ASPARAGUS
Make fettuccine alfredo the way you like, then add fresh parmesan (or manchego) cheese and African Smoke spice (from Trader Joe’s)
Wash and chop ends off of two handfuls asparagus, line them up in a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Then sprinkle them with African Smoke spice and some sea salt. Broil in oven for 5-10 minutes around 450 degrees.