24 April 2009

Cooking for my family

I've never been the cook in my family. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mother who cooked family dinners pretty regularly. I often sat on the opposite side of the kitchen counter watching her, but my older sister Lindsay was always the one to jump in and help. Lindsay developed all the essential cooking skills early on: how to best chop various vegetables, how long to cook different dishes, and what spices accompany different ingredients.

The more her skills grew, and mine remained amateurish at best, our roles became clearly defined. Lindsay and my mom would handle dinner, and I would be in charge of setting the table. Sometimes I would be trusted to prepare a salad, heat up rolls, or even make dessert, but preparing main dishes was pretty much off limits to me. *cue tear jerking music*
I've always envied Lindsay's ability to not only cook but enjoy doing so and experimenting with her dishes. She has made homemade Italian pasta, French crepes and various Thai and Indian cuisines. There is no dish that she is too intimidated to attempt. Also, she has been documenting her dishes for years, and there are probably enough photos of Lindsay's masterpieces to fill an entire album.

Last weekend I decided to follow suit and prepare dinner for my whole family: my mom, stepdad, sister, brother-in-law, and boyfriend. I chose to make enchiladas because they are tasty, and I could make them with meat or without for my vegetarian brother-in-law Phil. I documented the process to show how easy it was -- even a novice like me could whip them up easily. I didn't use a recipe, instead going by intuition. I documented the whole process.

With some pretty tasty ingredients before me, I felt excited but nervous to embark on this adventure: cooking a whole meal from scratch for my family.

I started by chopping and sauteing some fresh garlic. If there's one thing I know about cooking it's that fresh sauteed garlic can enhance almost any dish.

Next I browned the ground beef, tossing in some garlic for flavor. I also sprinkled on some cumin.

Now, time to prepare the cheesy spinachy filling. I microwaved two boxes of frozen spinach and drained the water very well.

I incorporated the spinach into a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese, sprinkling in some grated cheddar and jack cheese as well.

Now the fun begins! Assembling the enchiladas:

Step 1: Coat the baking pan with some canned enchilada sauce.

Step 2: Top a medium corn tortilla with desired fillings. In this case, spinach/cheese blend, enchilada sauce, and ground beef.

Step 3: Fold both ends of tortilla over and place in saucey baking dish.
Step 4: When dish is full'o'enchiladas, top with more sauce and sprinkle on some cheese.

Ta da! I baked for about 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Taking them out of the oven, they looked saucy, cheesy and gooey.

I heated up some black beans with more garlic and cumin and threw together a salad with tomato and avocado to accompany the enchiladas.

Alas! the final product:

I'm so glad to have made this delicious dish. I finally gained some confidence in my cooking skills. Sharing the meal that I prepared with my family made me feel like I was able to give back to the people I love. Also, my ability to cook a meal (main course, side dish and salad!) from start to finish was finally recognized... Victory!


Nancy Tracy said...

I read this trepidatiously and was grateful at the end that you opted to exclude any "Mommy Dearest" innuendos. Now I can't decide if it was more fun to read this blog post or share in that incredible dinner you prepared for us last weekend.

Drew said...

I really appreciated your blog on cooking for the fanily. It was very well done, sweetheart. It was so well documented (with photos) that literally anyone could follow it. That was one fabulous meal. You have many talents and will develope many more because you're smart, capable and open to new experiences. I can't tell you how proud I am of you. Love, Drew

Lindsay said...

You did a great job on the tutorial, and you can make that meal for us again anytime! :) I have my share of failed or so-so cooking experiences to go along with the good ones. I guess the important thing is to enjoy what you're doing and challenge yourself to new things.