I want to but don’t want to cook

It’s hot out. I mean really hot. I am from Arkansas, so you would think I would have some tolerance to the heat. I do not. Our temps are in the 90s, but it feels over a 100. There is an air quality warning due to the heat and pollution. This would normally be the time of year when we also hear about beach closures due to e coli, but our beaches are supposed to be closed currently due to the pandemic. I say “supposed to be” because it seems we hear reports almost daily of people going to them regardless of the official closure status. Would these people be going if we did the e coli warnings? How the hell do they think “pandemic” is a better scenario?

Anyway, I digress. It’s hot, as I said. And this pandemic thing is still happening. Our numbers are better in Chicago and Illinois as a state, but they are in no way to a point where I would feel comfortable, or even begin to feel comfortable. I feel anxious every day at the pictures and stories on the radio, or various online news sources, or my Facebook feed, showing people going about their activities as if the threat is over. I am anxious about how fast our “leaders” are trying to move people toward reopening things so that the economy “improves.” I won’t go on a tangent about how the economic argument is about helping the wealthy, not the guy making minimum wage. I’m terrified that our governor or our mayor will decide it’s okay to send kids back to school too soon because “kids don’t get as severe of symptoms,” despite the fact that many of those kids, including ours, live with and interact with close family members that are high risk. So the kid may not die, but they may be an orphan or lose a grandparent.

Right now, where I feel all of this stress the most is in my cooking. I am not excited by the prospect of making a new recipe. I am challenged daily to try to find something I can make that will excite me and that will not turn my difficult-to-cool apartment into an instant sauna. Yes, I can utilize the instant pot, and that helps, but I only have one of those, so that limits how much I can make in it, and I inevitably have to use the stove top for part of the meal. I have the grill, and I love using it, but not when it feels like 110-120 degrees on my western-facing deck until after about 7 pm. We usually need to have dinner by then, not be starting it.

I tried doing more cold dishes, like salads. I tried your basic lettuce-based salads in multiple forms. I tried a quinoa salad. I tried slaws. Each of these were shot down instantly by the ten-year-old. She has an all out aversion to word salad. I don’t know where it came from. She used to order a side salad occasionally when we went out to eat. She hasn’t done that for at least a year pre-pandemic. I don’t even think we realized it until I started trying to make salads a part of dinner. I’ve been tempted to do a cold soup but have just been too hesitant to face what is likely the inevitable rejection from the kid. I have successfully made hot soups that she liked. So there is a possibility that there is a cold soup she would not completely snub. I may just have to try.

I also have some odd ingredients I have acquired during this pandemic. Letting me online grocery shop may actually be worse that turning me loose in a grocery store. I will comb every category, and this often leads to “oh, I’ve never tried this…I should get it” kind of moments. An examples of this is the jicama I recently got. Turns out that I do not much care for jicama. I’m hoping I can find a way to use the very large amount remaining in a way we don’t hate. Other examples are the vermicelli pasta, red curry paste, wild rice, and hominy. These are not things I normally cook with, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe they’ll provide some inspiration.

The bottom line is that cooking, which is my go-to stress relief, is not currently relieving my stress. Cooking and I are going to need to work things out soon.

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