I've entered the stage of my life where my children aren't children anymore. They're growing up and taking on more responsibilities. For the first time ever, they are living in their own apartments this Fall and they're cooking all of their own meals. Ryan has been cooking for himself for about 4 years now but this will be the first time that Courtney will be responsible for feeding herself.
I overheard a conversation the other day in the car when Ryan was giving his best cooking advice to his beloved sister and much to my surprise, he had some really sound advice for his younger sibling. He warned her that she should NOT throw a frozen steak onto a hot skillet. It IS possible to burn butter. Measuring cups can double as cereal bowls when you don't want to wash dishes. All the important stuff.
Those warnings that Ryan gave to his sister - all first hand experiences. It took some time for him to get into the groove of planning, shopping for, preparing and cleaning up all of his meals. Let's face it - we all struggle with some of these from time to time.
I distinctly remember a phone call to Ryan one evening, early in his sophomore year of college when he first started to do his own cooking He told me that he was going to make tacos for dinner and as I started to ask the specifics of the meal, it became unmistakably clear that his idea of a taco dinner was ground beef in a crunchy taco shell. No seasoning, no salsa, no lettuce, no cheese, no fuss. Beef and taco shells. Dinner - Ryan style.
I should not have been surprised really. Ryan IS responsible for creating what the entire family now refers to as "BOOM Chicken." I'll give you the recipe: Place 1 boneless chicken breast on a George Foreman grill, wait 10 minutes and BOOM - grilled chicken. Again, no seasoning, no sauce - no frills. I'll bet you'll never guess how he makes goat cheese chicken. ;)
Don't let Ryan's simple cooking techniques fool you though. He makes a killer venison stew and venison bolognese. He doesn't really like to follow a recipe when he cooks and in most cases that method works really well for him. He recently made a batch of homemade granola bars that didn't turn out quite like he had envisioned though. He threw some oats, nuts, fruit and honey in a pan, baked it for a few minutes and ended up with a crunchy, candy bar-like confection. A little too sweet for his taste. So this recipe is for you Ryan. Start with the basic measurements and swap out ingredients with your favorites. Can't wait to see what you'll create.
Fruity Granola Bars
1 1/2 cups walnuts
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups Rice Crispies Cereal
1 cup dried cranberries
Ryan really learned a lot from his experience in the dorm kitchen where he smoked out the entire hall. He's actually a very good cook now. He prepares really healthy food and he does a lot of his cooking on the weekends so that he has prepared meals for the whole week. The mom in me thinks that he could probably stand to eat a few more vegetables here and there BUT in general - he's a really healthy cook.
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