How to (not) cook like a local
A local's guide to kitchen avoidance

How to (not) cook like a local
Jennaye Derge / Local first - 09/17/2020

I don’t cook, or rather, I choose not to cook. If given the right ingredients and tools, I can-- and have--but I just don’t.

It’s a hard thing to admit, like telling someone you don’t like Betty White and it gets an equal amount of shock as telling third graders that Santa is actually dad. The truth hurts though and so does holding a heavy, hot sauté pan.


I don’t cook for many reasons and could blame it on my studio’s oven-less kitchenette or my mini-fridge that has just enough room for moldy leftovers, but my distaste for the culinary started long before my lack of kitchen space. I believe my cook-phobia stems from both, my innate hatred for clutter that keeps me from things like spice racks and pantry foods, and also from my German bloodline that runs deep with frugality. My cheapness keeps me away from things like nice knives and different sizes of pots and pans and honestly, if I have the extra cash floating around, I probably won’t be spending it on things like Le Creusets, nice blenders, or “ingredients” and “cutlery."


I understand that my aversion to pulling pies out of the oven in a poofy dress and apron doesn’t bode well with the male suitors, and I’ve probably been left out of a few potlucks but that’s perfectly fine with me because, to my knowledge, none of my childhood diaries ever read: “I want to grow up to be just like Julia Childs!” Or have I aspired to be the mom from "A Christmas Story," a woman who just oozes with domesticity.

No, that’s just not who I am.

Who I am is more of a snacker. Or a “put together whatever I have in the fridge”-er. I’m a creature of habit and I generally buy the same items at the grocery store week after week because I know the foods that I like and when the sudden hunger hits -- which it always does in a pinch--I don’t have to scratch my chin and say “hmmm, what should I have for dinner?." I already know what I’m going to have for dinner; pretty much exactly what I had
for dinner last night.

I understand that this way of eating sounds terribly boring and that I may lead a mundane existence, but trust me when I say that my non-cooking in no way reflects my everyday life which is full of flavor and spice if I do say so myself. Nor does it mean I hate food--on the contrary, I actually love food. Like, LOVE it. On the right day with the right people I will totally go out of my way for a good meal. I love complex colors and flavors on my plate; a nice glass of wine, maybe a sip of whiskey or scotch and some Billie Holiday or Bing Crosby playing in the background.

Or, just a fattie burrito from a taqueria. Yeah, I love that stuff. But that “stuff” does not happen every day so my kitchen grazing without an apron, oven, or a spice rack will have to do just fine.

How (Not) to Cook Like a Local
• First, obviously, make an alcoholic beverage. I generally like wine because it’s the drink equivalent to snacking. It’s easily accessible and you can just keep pouring it in your glass without really having to try. But, since we’re cooking here, that means we have to mix stuff and create something fancy. The last drink I mixed? Jungle Juice.
*Or, don’t try to recreate bad college party drinks and find some nice quality cocktails ideas from The Bookcase and Barber or The Office Spiritorium.

Find quality beverage mixers at River Liquors, Star Liquors, Wagon Wheel Liquors, Honey House Distillery or Fenceline Cider.


• Cooking is messy and splattery so you’ll probably need to wear that old college wolf t-shirt that you don’t mind getting stains on. It also requires pots, pans, spoons and a knife. I have a hodgepodge of various “cutlery” collected over the years at thrift stores and I think, as long as I don’t have to cut, chop or sauté anything, they do just fine.
*Or, get functioning cutlery, dishware, and an apron from Urban Market, Kreogers Ace Hardware or There’s no Place Like Home. You can also get another “cooking t-shirt” from Halfway to Heaven.

• Appetizers are always the key to the start of a good meal. They’re a lot like snacks but they are arranged on a wooden board to look fancy. I’d suggest throwing on some triscuits and a couple slices of cheese before serving. Call it “charcuterie” and watch as your guests’ faces light up.

*Or, go to James Ranch Market, Sunnyside Farms Market, Durango Artisan Foods, Jack’s Meat Market, PJ’s Gourmet Market or Best Kind Ferments for your meats, cheeses and mustards or, i.e., “fancy snacks."

• It’s time for the main course! I’m sorry, I’m at a total loss for your main course. I usually just eat “charcuterie” until I’m full.
*Or, let someone else cook for you! Order it to-go and pretend you cooked it: Primi Pasta & Wine Bar, The Kennebec, Mahogany Grille, Mutu’s Italian Kitchen, Ore House, The Yellow Carrot, Dandelion Cafe, Eolus Bar & Dining, East by Southwest, Derailed Pour House, Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen.

*Or, be the hero and get pizza, burgers and tacos. Fired Up Pizzeria, Gazpacho New Mexican Cooking Y Cantina, Carver Brewing Co., Zia Taqueria, Macho’s Fast Mexican Food & Drinks….serve with a chef’s kiss.

• Now for the finale. Dessert and maybe a little digestif. I prefer raiding my own “hidden” chocolate stash, but if you’re cooking for friends, may I suggest baking a pie? Or making a custard? I can do neither because I don’t have an oven, a blender or the desire, so I’ll personally just skip dessert and go straight to the digestif, which is actually just the rest of the wine.


*Or, end your night with desert from: Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company, Cream Bean Berry, Serious Delights Bakehouse.
 

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