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Cooking shouldn’t be just for the holidays

I saw you in the grocery store during the holiday season.

You weren’t planning to yet again serve something from the nearby carryout place. No, you were in the grocery store, shopping list in hand, getting the ingredients to prepare a recipe.

I saw this scene just about every time I was in the grocery store from mid-November to Christmas. And, as someone who makes just about all her own meals, that means I am there pretty often. The point I want to make is, if you can make real food those six to eight weeks, why not continue?

For some reason, people who say they don’t have enough time or talent to cook real food the rest of the year contradict those sentiments by creating wonderful dishes at the busiest time of the year.

So, at the start of 2016, when so many of you say you want to eat better, I want you to consider cooking for yourself the rest of the year.

Forget what you see on TV when it comes to food. I think sometimes people see what the chefs are making and start thinking cooking is too complicated, requires too many exotic ingredients. It doesn’t have to be.

You can do it. Start with something uncomplicated. For example, decide you are going to make one dinner from scratch at home this week. Here’s an example of what you can do: Get a pork tenderloin, score it (cut small slits into it), then add salt and pepper before topping with some orange marmalade. Toss some sliced red potatoes with a bit of olive oil and herbs (rosemary would be nice) onto another tray. Bake it all at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. While it’s cooking, get the kids to help you make a simple green salad. Dinner’s done! (Honestly, I’d also toss in a tray with Brussels sprouts mixed with olive oil and garlic, but I know that might be too much for some of you. But if it isn’t …)

Maybe making a couple courses is more than you can handle now. Then just make one and work your way up to more. Can’t get yourself to cook during the week? Then start with breakfast or lunch on the weekend. Just do whatever you can to begin cooking. The little steps will help you form a habit.

Stop thinking of cooking as drudgery. Enjoy the aromas, the feel of the food in your hands as you prepare them. Concentrate on the cooking and it’ll take your mind off the stress of the day. I cook to relax and unwind all the time.

Give it a try.

FILE PHOTO: Alexandra Reynolds for Villard~AP