Tonight we're having a rare treat. We have tickets to a comedy show (Friends of the Bob & Tom Show), and that should be a lot of fun. Five or six comedians (all funny) in one show. We're looking forward to it!
But that's not our rare treat. Before the show, we're going out to eat. This probably sounds bizarre to many people. Why is that a rare treat? Well...it's a rarity that we go out to eat, so that makes it a treat! Simple enough. I'm not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the line, I started to like to cook. Believe me, in my younger days, I didn't have much interest in it. Who wants to spend time in the kitchen? But then I started to make some things, and realized that I really enjoyed creating in the kitchen. (I think I come by it naturally--my Mom is a wonderful cook, all her sisters are great cooks, HER Mom was a great cook, and on and on. I'm certainly not on their level, but I enjoy trying.) I have to give Emeril some credit, too, because he has so much fun in the kitchen, and made me want to have fun. How much fun is it to add spices to your dish and yell, "BAM!" I still love to do that!
When Ken and I got married, we found it was much easier on our budget to eat at home. Not to mention that it allowed us to save money to take vacations and eat out in some really great food cities, like New Orleans and San Francisco. I've read somewhere that if you eat out one less time per week, you can save a few hundred a year. I'm not sure how often families are eating out, but I would guess 3 or 4 times a week. That is an almost alien concept to me, but then I grew up in a family that looked at eating out as a treat, and it's carried over to me. People wonder how we can afford to take as many vacations as we do. This is part of it.
It helps having a pantry, because you can stock up on things (on sale, of course) to use as you need them. I'm almost obsessive about it, and I think we could eat for six months off what we have in our freezer and pantry. It also helps having a garden, because I'm tellin' ya, there's nothing quite like picking stuff that you've grown (and we don't use pesticides) and using it to make dinner. But it takes a bit of a commitment, too, because you have to think ahead, have a recipe in mind and make sure you have what you need. And then you have to take the time to make it. I understand it's not for everyone, but I know I really enjoy it. In fact, on the days I don't need to make anything--like if we're having leftovers--I feel a little disappointed. I do most of the cooking, because Ken works longer hours than I do, but he usually cooks for me on the weekends I work, and he enjoys it, too. (He made a killer beef stew a few weekends ago, including making beef stock from scratch. He rocks!) When we cook together, it's fun, too.
There are so many different spices (Ken's Mom introduced me to cumin a few years ago, and I would have a hard time giving that one up!) and combinations, and so many different things to try! I love being adventurous and trying something new. Ken doesn't always love that so much--ha! But he's a good sport and willing to try things, and I know better than to load up a recipe with things like green peppers or eggplant (I love them, but he doesn't--Eggplant Parmigiana is what I make when he goes on a business trip). I wish I could encourage everyone to make the time to make things. It's surprisingly rewarding and fun, and sitting down as a family is something that we seem to have lost. I think that's a shame.
That being said, I will thoroughly enjoy my dinner out tonight. The best part? No dishes to clean!