During our recent school break, I decided to take time off from work too. I asked my Facebook friends for hobby ideas. Most of them laughed at me, knowing I had little time to take up anything, but I needed to do something with my time. I’m not one who can sit for hours in front of a TV watching movies. And I don’t have the budget to travel like I wish (Travel is indeed one of my passions).
I actually rested and enjoyed free time with my husband the first few days, but then cabin fever set in. We decided to take a couple of days just to loaf around town, and that’s when I discovered a new hobby.
I’ve tried crocheting – but it bores me easily. I thought about painting – but I have less artistic ability than a flea.
In our outings, we gravitated to farmer’s markets and grocery stores and there I discovered (admitted) I’m passionate about cooking. I miss cooking for my husband because my busy schedule usually reduces us to homemade burgers, or quick 30-minute throw together meals. And it had gotten boring.
After our first trip out, I came home and made individual beef wellingtons – the budget variety (I used a cheap cut of meat from Aldi’s). I’d never had beef wellington before, and had always wanted to make them after seeing a recipe in a Southern Living cookbook years ago. For a side dish, I made a potato recipe I’d recently heard about – pomme fondant. The beef wellington turned out okay – I think a better quality meat would make a HUGE difference, as would a little more time and effort spent on the mushroom coating. But the pomme fondant? Oh my word, were they delicious! We’ll definitely be making those again soon.
Tonight, I made apricot chicken in the crockpot. The list of ingredients sounded questionable, but I was in a hurry and decided to give it a whirl. It was delicious, and we’ll be making it again, too! I’ll add the recipe below.
My next attempt at a new dish will be this weekend – I’m going to try to make mushroom risotto. And after that, a roasted corn tagliatelle. See, I even had to learn how to spell that one, so my education continues outside the classroom!
I realize cooking isn’t for everyone. And I may not be able to do it as often as I like, but at least now I’ve found a “purpose” for my free time. It’s exciting to create new dishes, sample different flavors, stretch my cooking skills.
Does it help me with work? Probably not. Does it fill our bank account? Definitely not. Does it make me a better person? Perhaps it does, because it helps me relax and focus on something besides work. It pulls me away from the computer screen, and it takes me to new places in search of ingredients. When a meal is completed, my mind is refreshed, relaxed, and recharged to start a new week.
What about you? Do you have any hobbies?
Crockpot Apricot Chicken
(For Two or a Crowd – just adjust recipe accordingly)
Chicken Tenders (we use three tenders per person, so adjust to fit your family)
Apricot preserves (3/4 cup for 6 tenders – serves 2)
Dried Onion Soup (1/2 envelope per 2 servings)
Mayonnaise (1/8 cup per 2 servings)
Place chicken tenders (I used frozen) in crock pot. In small mixing bowl, combine other ingredients and stir well. Spoon over chicken, set crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. If it’s full, you’ll need to increase the time and/or the temp.
Serve over rice.