One-Month Challenge: All Cooking, All the Time, Week 2

[Everyone’s got a vice, a bad habit, something they know they need to change. Unfortunately, everyone also has a million excuses why they just can’t do it. Not anymore. Every month we will be following a different CollegeCandy writer as she takes on a personal challenge. For April, Jill is going to give up restaurants. And it’s not lookin’ good.]
It’s a brand spankin new me, people.
A domesticated me.
A Martha Stewart – but with more inflection in my voice while speaking – me!
I started this week off excited! I wrote a list of things I would need and checked it twice (much like I would imagine Santa does on Christmas, but, really, what do I know? I’m Jewish) and headed off to Whole Foods. Instead of heading for the prepared foods aisle or straight for my clutch of frozen Amy’s Organics (seriously have you ever had the Mexican tamale pie? Delish. But I digress. We’re focusing on cooking here), I made my way through the produce and on to the fish and meat.
And let me tell you, those Whole Foods people, they are friendly bunch of peeps. I felt like a “real person” asking about which cut of meat was the leanest, how long I should cook my sea bass for, should I leave the skin on or off? These are things I would never even THINK about when ordering out at a restaurant, yet I suddenly became determined to make everything correctly and deliciously and full of taste that would make my grandma kvell (that’s Jewish speak for beam with pride.
Cooking during the week was easier than I thought. Save for the piece of fish I slightly undercooked and didn’t realize it until a few bites in. Oopsie.
I cooked a good amount of food on Sunday and then a second smaller batch on Wednesday to get me through the week, and at the end of the day I was proud! Seriously, I have a red mark on my back from patting myself so damn hard. I exceeded my one new recipe quota and ventured into the likes of Greek style chicken with oregano and lemon juice, grilled onions, tilapia seasoned with dill, large salads for work, brown rice pasta with broccoli and tomato sauce with eggplant in it and… I even baked my own healthy dessert! So easy! I sliced a Granny Smith Apple, sprinkled it with cinnamon and Stevia and a squeeze of a lemon and stuck it in the oven. It was scrumptious!
Not to mention, I have a new obsession. And for once in my life it doesn’t involve chocolate (or boy bands): Cooked cherry tomatoes seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper. SO easy. SO cheap and SO, SO GOOD.
But don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t always rainbows and happy times. The real challenge came over the weekend. My friends asked me to go to dinner on both Friday and Saturday night and usually I’m never one to say no to a social gathering. Especially a social gathering that involves tortilla chips. And sangria. But alas, I had to decline. And while during the week I actually really, truly enjoyed taking time for myself, sitting and eating in peace and quiet (or on some nights accompanied by the likes of Bethenny Frankel or Andy Cohen… which, by the way, I feel like I deserve the Mazel of the week for becoming a legit cooking goddess in seven days), it felt weird sitting at home in my apartment on a Friday with my (yummy) tomatoes and my DVR. I felt like I was missing out… And even though those tomatoes made me happy both for their flavor and for the fact I made them MYSELF, they don’t replace the happiness of laughing with friends at a fun dinner together. The fact is, so many social events are centered around food. Hell, I’ve already turned down three dinner and two brunch invites…and it’s only been ONE week.
Woof. It’s getting lonely in here.
I think the best way to remedy this for these next few weeks is to invite friends over to cook TOGETHER. Genius, I know. And in the real world, when this challenge is over, I think I will try a “eat in during the week and out on the weekends” balance. That is what Miley Cyrus would call the best of both worlds.
But so far, one week in and I’m loving this experience so much I’m feeling like I could be a very great replacement for Rachael Ray (only without the annoying abbrevs). Here’s hoping I don’t burn out (or burn down my kitchen) in the week to come.
[Check out the other One Month Challenges we’ve taken on. And if you’ve got a challenge you want to tackle (and be held accountable for), email us and we could feature you next month. Come on – it’s good for you!]

Candy Dish: Spring Fashion Fun
Candy Dish: Spring Fashion Fun
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