Whenever I walk into my kitchen, I get this feeling that I’m being watched.
I live alone and I have no pets, but I do have a microwave oven that I have been steadfastly ignoring for the last few months and I think it’s starting to get pissed.
The thing sits on the counter eyeballing me, soundlessly demanding to know what’s going on.
What’s the story? It seems to say. Why haven’t you used me for so long?
What can I say? Breaking up really is hard to do. And in this case, my dear little food zapper, it’s not me; it’s most definitely you.
There was a time when my microwave was the only thing between me and starvation—or at least eating a lot of raw food.
I lived to hear the sound of the little ping telling me dinner was ready as anxiously as a hamster hoping for his next food pellet. I watched the seconds tick away on the timer like Major Tom commencing countdown, engines on.
But something happened after all those years of take-out, heat up and throw away.
I started cooking.
Yes, me, the guy who could have easily traded his oven for a hope chest is now firing that sucker up nearly every night and cooking healthy meals.
This radical change began when my sister me sent to see her nutritionist, Cindy.
I’ve had health problems for years and while I always knew on some level that my diet wasn’t the healthiest in North America, I put a lot of effort into congratulating myself for not gorging on Big Macs and KFC.
But I still wasn’t happy with my overall health. Here am I going to the gym regularly and popping vitamins, but still ignoring the most basic element of a healthy lifestyle, namely, my freaking food.
So I went to see Cindy and told her how I microwaved pre-cooked turkey meatballs, chicken sausages, and frozen vegetables. She promptly told me to cease and desist.
“I want you to cook,” she said.
Huh? You mean take raw meat, put it in the oven and…wait? Madam, you cannot be serious.
Cindy told me that these pre-cooked meals have all sorts of salts and preservatives that play merry hell with your body.
I didn’t like the idea of actually taking time to make my meals, especially after working all day, but I wanted to reduce the crap in my system.
So I introduced myself to my oven, after a three-year cold shoulder, and got to work. I began steaming kale, making something called quinoa and cooking—really cooking—fish, or fresh chicken burgers and turkey sausages—not the pre-made chemical carriers.
It felt so strange. For years I told myself that I couldn't cook, that it takes too much time. The truth is I really can cook and yes, while it takes a little more time and costs a little bit more money, I'm actually having fun.
In addition to improved health, Cindy told me that I would feel a sense of pride when I started cooking for myself, a feeling of accomplishment.
I scoffed at this idea, but it turned out that she was right. I do feel proud. I feel good about doing something that not only helps me, but also blows apart one of my self-imposed barriers.
I’ve got a lot to learn about cooking and I don’t plan on opening a restaurant any time soon, but my dinners have been quite tasty, if I say so myself.
And my diet still needs work. I have yet to shake my desire for diet ice tea, but I am drinking more water.
I’ve been keeping the microwave unplugged, lest it come to life and try to kill me like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. My oven is my new best friend and the nuke machine will just have to sit quietly and watch.