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Do you cook too much?

Cooking is therapeutic for me- when I'm my most stressed, all I want to do is spend the day cooking. Sometimes it's meatballs, sometimes its cookies, sometimes its 4x pound cakes... but nothing makes me happier than getting up early, cleaning the kitchen, making the husband drive me to the grocery store (no small feat with a motorcycle in nyc) and then cooking all day.
The trouble is... it's just the two of us. We are friends with another couple who live close by and who we frequently host last-minute, but sometimes it's just too much food. As it stands today, I want to make two different batches of cookies, risotto and try a new lemon glazed poundcake recipe today. That's not even including dinner! I bring food to work, to my fave local bartenders, and to friends but I'm starting to think I have a problem ;)
Luckily, my husband loves to eat, but I'm wondering if anyone else cooks this much for pleasure instead of for necessity?

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  1. I do the same thing. Cooking is my hobby, a stress reducer, something I enjoy doing. It is also just the two of us.

    While no motorcycle in NYC. We live on a farm in a very rural area, so the nearest grocery store is over 10 miles away. My days start early with feeding the goats and mini equine, pig, chickens, guinea fowl, dogs and cats. Then a shower and a trip to the store, if needed. I often spend the entire afternoon cooking, even if we don't need the food.

    Today's plan is to make some bread plus three kinds of soup from the turkey stock I made yesterday. Freeze some and give some to neighbors. We have just two neighbors within a mile of the farm. One is a recently divorced single father of two young teens and the other is an 80-year old widow. So both of our neighbors love getting the results of my cooking frenzies.

    The guys at the local feed store love seeing us pull up as it often means they are getting a free lunch or an afternoon snack.

    1. Do you have a local soup kitchen?? Perhaps you can go cook there.

      DT

      8 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        We do, and I have :) I love feeding people in any capacity- I spent 3 years volunteering at a soup kitchen every Saturday morning. I've moved a bit father from the location now so I make it less often, but that is a great idea. Sometimes it's nice to cook something new, though (the soup kitchen menu is not exactly exciting.)

          1. re: Davwud

            ha, unfortunately most of the menus are pre-determined (the same every week) and the ingredients aren't really up for change as they are largely donated. Meatloaf, fresh salad and a soup are generally on the menu (usually vegetable soup) but sometimes we will have a sandwich or cake if we can get the ingredients. There's also a LOT of cabbage donated for whatever reason. If i had the money, I would donate fixings to make that into slaw or something but alas- ingredients for 400+ meals prepared in a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet is more of a science than an art ;) We are always proud of the food, though.

            1. re: CarmenR

              Well I understand that but how about switching things up a bit. Make a turkey meatloaf. Or Meatloaf sandwiches. Just to refresh things. Make them more, you know, exciting.

              DT

              1. re: Davwud

                Hey, if suddenly the kitchen was stocked with a few hundred pounds of ground turkey instead of ground beef, I'm sure they would gladly make turkey meatloaf. And if there is bread for sandwiches, again- happy to oblige. Sadly, the soup kitchen pantry is not well stocked.

                1. re: CarmenR

                  Ya, I guess. Just spit ballin' here.

                  DT

              2. re: CarmenR

                Hi Carmen,

                You could throw in a twist by making Italian Wedding Soup which is based on meat and green veggies. Meatballs and cabbage are common. If dry beans, lentils, rice, or pasta are donated they'd work in it also.

                I know you have limited resources, just an idea for you.

          2. re: Davwud

            A soup kitchen is a great idea. I also used to volunteer at one, but we moved to a new state. I read about a new soup kitchen that opened in town a few months ago.

          3. We bought a smoker recently and there's a real temptation to smoke too much and too often :) But otherwise, no.

            9 Replies
            1. re: c oliver

              Have you considered smokers anonymous

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Truly! Our Latino market has these HUGE (25#) whole bone-in pork butts. I sooo wanted one (or more). And they had roasted a whole pig and I was wondering if it would fit :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  What other veggies have you tried smoking? That whole tomato thread got me wondering about this.

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    Nothing else yet. Gotta do some research for the next time. I did smoke some salt but didn't leave it in long enough so it wasn't anything special. Will re-smoke it next time.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Please do report back if you try anything else! I'd love to know how veggies turn out.

                    2. re: nothingswrong

                      I just saw a cooking show where the chef smoked mushrooms....... Which sounds insane and awesome

                2. re: c oliver

                  I get that way every time I buy a big bag.

                3. as long as budget permits and the food isn't going to waste, what's the problem? when i had more down-time last year i did lots of baking, even though the b/f and i rarely ate any of it. i gave some to neighbors and brought some to work.

                  everybody was happy.

                  1. Do what you love so long as you love what you do.

                    1. I bake too much but I usually cut recipes in half so it helps.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: youareabunny

                        Me too. I can easily unload a half-batch worth in one visit to my boyfriend's employees and they eat it on the spot. Then they ask if I'm making something new tomorrow.

                      2. Sometimes....cooking is also my hobby; I love to cook for other people (when I'm in the mood). There's only two of us in the house now and my fiancé loves to eat so there's not a problem as far as that's concerned. The problem lies in that he is not a chowhound. He is not as adventurous with food as I am so while I slip in dishes he's not familiar with, I mostly cook comfort foods for him because it's what he likes.

                        When I want to cook something I know he won't like, I have to alter a meal. If I normally make a meat and two sides, it'll be three sides, etc. On the upside, since we've been together, he has expanded his palate so that's a plus.

                        I can spend a whole day cooking only to put most of it in the freezer for what I call "hard times", meaning those days I don't feel like cooking.

                        1. I love to cook for the sake of cooking as well. I have to try to restrain myself from buying things when we already have a house full of food but don't usually succeed. There are only 2 of us and the product of many of my cooking adventures gets passed on to coworkers.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            What kills me in my situation is that my coworkers are NOT adventurous at ALL. We have a friend who always bring north of 5lbs of EXCELLENT cheese to our dinner parties (much of it is stinky!) so I brought a bunch into my office to share with coworkers after making everything I could think with it. I didn't bring anything too offensive smelling, however the entire 90 person floor took one look at it, turned up their noses and promptly deemed it inedible. Meanwhile, they'll chow down on cabot cheddar cubes all day long and will proudly call themselves "foodies."

                            :( Hounds, save my office!! I live in NYC, for goodness sake... and not that everyone has to love stinky cheese, but really- not a single soul out of an entire floor?! They do like my salted caramel cookies, though if I told them "salt" was the secret ingredient, I fear most of them would never forgive me...

                            1. re: CarmenR

                              I know that feeling, I've had coworkers ask to see food pictures and then scoff at seared tuna or other things which seem pretty ordinary to me but apparently are not. I guess you'll have to hide the good stuff and then let them know later. Throw some anchovies in there :)

                          2. I overcook- i seem to be incapable of making less than 4-6 servings of anything- and i live alone! But that's why my freezer is full of homemade meals and my friends and coworkers benefit as well.

                            Why don't you host a regular dinner party? Just a casual night with friends- it could be a creative outlet for you and i'm sure your social circle would appreciate it.

                            Or, you could be a hostess for eatwith events since you are in nyc- really fun idea:
                            http://www.eatwith.com

                            1. My wife complains about how much I cook and she also complains that I hand wash the dishes after instead of using the dishwasher. She gots some problems doesn't she?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Chinon00

                                I say this in the most respectful way possible...you need to get her some help. I mean seriously, your cooking too much is one thing but complaining about you cleaning after? Next thing you know she'll be griping about having too much money when you win the next $500 million powerball.

                                Dude...you're in trouble...

                                :-)

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  Seriously???
                                  Go on vacation for a week or so, make sure there is nothing in the fridge.
                                  When you return she may better understand how to appreciate what you do. ;)

                                2. I always make enough for an army, even though I am usually cooking for two. So does Mr Rat - this is one of the reasons we hit it off in the first place. And yes, we always seem to have a dish to bring to parties :)

                                  Besides, you're all going to be laughing out of the other side of your mouths when the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE gets here and we have enough food to last for months. Years, maybe.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                    in the zombie apocalypse our freezers will no longer be functioning...

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      That's why you need a generator if you're going to be REALLY prepared...

                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                        That's right. In our fortified underground lair.

                                  2. Why don't you contact Meals on Wheels (they provide meals to elderly, handicapped, and otherwise needy folks) and offer to help prepare meals, or portions of meals?

                                    http://www.mowaa.org/

                                    That way you could cook to your heart's desire, help out a charity and those locally in need, and its all in the interest of community service (and who cares if you do it too much)...

                                    It would probably be less regimented as to menu choices than a soup kitchen since the plates of food are delivered to the recipients' homes, one at a time, and nobody knows (as far as I know) what anybody else got...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                      there are regulations in place about serving home-cooked meals to "strangers".

                                      food has to come from inspected kitchens -- especially considering many of the recipients may have challenged immune systems.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        Okay, then she could contact a local church. I'm sure there are plenty of churches that either have programs to feed the hungry or perhaps have parishoners on a small fixed income who could use and appreciate some extra meals. No doubt there are lots of folks who have lost their SNAP benefits or now will be unable to receive them in the future, who would greatly appreciate some extra Chowhound cooked fare.

                                    2. You guys make me laugh. I like to cook too, but I need to eat low carb most of the time, and it is hard to find inspiring recipes to cook a lot of.

                                      However, this holiday season I intend to bake cookies, even if I have to go house to house to get rid of most of them.

                                      I miss holiday baking the most.

                                      I do like making soup and chili. I keep thinking I need ask family members over for chili, and then i remember--girl, you've fed them chili over and over again. You need to feed them something else.

                                      So, I roasted a chicken.

                                      At any rate, I relate to all of this, even if my output is not as large a some of yours. Cook on!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        Chili, cornbread, and beer on a cold day, who'd say no to that? If you enjoy it and they keep showing up then all is good.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          I came across this blog the other day- all low carb recipes- and a good sized number of baking recipes:
                                          http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com

                                        2. Other people knit, we here cook. The suggestion to cut recipes in half whenever possible is an excellent one.
                                          I've gotten somewhat better about not preparing too much, after I started making a weekly lunches & supper menu list and tracking planned/actual. The reality is that if I make too much of a dish the word "leftovers" shows up in the squares far more often than I'd like.

                                          However, the stack of recipes I want to try keeps getting taller and the groceries purchased in support of the stack are filling my cupboards.

                                          I've intentionally discouraged my husband from getting us a separate freezer. Lack of freezer space helps (somewhat) keep me from over-buying / excess cooking.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                            I love projects and new ideas so I also find it hard to resist testing out something new even as my fridge and cabinets bust at the seams. And, I also have pondered a chest freezer because I like to buy steak in bulk and really I just like to hoard things but I'm sure it'd be a frightening sight within a week.

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              I bought a chest freezer for the pork and beef I buy from a farmer (the initial sticker price is a shock, but it's all works out to about $2/lb) and there is left over room for the corn, applesauce, and the likes.

                                              I learned the art of preserving this year and need shelves for that stuff. I'm moving from the cooking too much to the being prepared to cook. Farmers markets and seasonal things are what I'm getting into so that when it IS time to cook, it's the best I can get

                                              1. re: HeBrew

                                                We're looking to get a chest freezer so we can buy local lambs and goats. I fear filling it with 'other' things :(

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I imagine I'd fill it with everything. Even now I can't stop myself if I see a good cut of meat at the store. I'd be in trouble with an entire freezer.

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    Meat, yes. But many years ago we had a behemoth that we got at a yard sale. When we finally cleaned it out, it was ridiculous. Especially the freezer-burned loaves of bread. We did buy a rack of lamb at Costco today as we ate the last one on Thursday. But nothing else! Too much meat. And as lagatta, we're older and not eating as much as not as much spontaneous entertaining so we really DO NOT need to stockpile so much :)

                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                      We have a freezer because we buy our meats by the halves (and chickens as whole birds from a local farmer). In our house, the freezer requires brutal management. If i let my guard down, my husband would fill it with all sorts of "treasures." Some people are disciplined about using those bits and pieces for soup, stock, etc. I am not that cook.

                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                        That describes us also! I really want one so those large purchases have somewhere to be. I dearly want the local meats and my current option is to just buy (at a premium price) at our co-op.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          I would recommend an upright. I grew up with chest freezers and things tend to get lost. With an upright, I can see almost everything. I put like items together so if I am looking at the ground beef, I know it is ground beef all the way back to the freezer wall.

                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                      We broke down and bought a small chest freezer a few months ago. We have a strict rule that only meat, packed in vacuum sealed bags and clearly labeled with the date are allowed in the freezer. Right now it is full of venison.

                                                      All of the other "stuff" like leftovers and fruits/veggies that I buy from local farmers when in season, must fit in the freezer compartments of the two refrigerators.

                                                      I raise goats, c oliver...

                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                        Hope I didn't offend when talking about goats in the freezer then!

                                                        We have a really, really small upright. It was supposed to fit in a spare bedroom closet but we kinda forgot about the chalet roof that slopes down in the back of said close. So it's actually "in" the room. But it's too small for what I'm talking about. I'd actually prefer a good-sized upright but I can get a chest one for around $150 while the uprights are significantly more.

                                                        And, yes, to vacuum sealing and labeling. I also keep various stocks and broths in the little upright. Freeze flat and then stand them up in shoeboxes and/or on the door.

                                              2. I don't cook too often - fresh, homemade food is better for you than anything except very high-end catering with quality ingredients and no dodgy additives.

                                                However, as a person currently living alone, in my late 50s, with an elderly cat, I really have to cut amounts even more. I don't waste a lot, but I hate wasting any good food. My appetite simply isn't as large as it used to be, which is a good thing. And while there is no shortage of friends, they are a bit less inclined to pop in spontaneously than when we were all younger.

                                                Carmen, I live in a densely-populated urban area as well, in Montréal. I can walk to Jean-Talon Market, several "ethnic" and speciality shops, and at least three supermarkets. When there isn't snow and ice, in particular ice, I ride my bicycle.

                                                I am a long-time volunteer in community associations, but it is hard for me to commit to working at a soup kitchen, as I'm a freelancer with very irregular hours.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  lagatta...I just can not eat the amounts I did when I was a bit younger either. Montreal is on my bucket list so exquisite:)The kitty sounds adorable.

                                                  1. re: MamasCooking

                                                    Kitty - his name is Renzo - is 18 years old. He is black, and half-Siamese. A talker.

                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                      I agree, sounds adorable! Our family cat Truffles was 20 years old when he departed us, and now my house is full of energy from the wonderful Shiitake, a 7 month old kitten. They are great companions and he keeps me company since I'm alone a lot in this house :)

                                                2. I did. I don't any more. It makes me sad to say it, but it's the truth

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                    If you are "sad" about it, I do hope that everything is all right with you.

                                                  2. I used to and then gave it all away to my adult son and his housemates....turkey dinners...prime rib dinners.....cookies...cupcakes....stew....soups ....breads. Not now though since I caught on that cooking like that means dishes and hours of clean up:)

                                                    1. Keep on cooking if you love it. I don't cook too much but then I'm cooking for 4 and we can mow through large quantities fairly quickly.

                                                      If you really find you have too much, join a church/synagogue/institution of choice. UU or ethical society works fine if you aren't interested in the god part of it. Those groups can serve as a very effective mechanism for consuming your extras. Someone is always in need/had a baby/spouse is ill and welcomes good eats.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                        I volunteered last year at the local "political party of my choice" county headquarters. Just one afternoon a week. The non-volunteer staff were young people who were living on caffeine and sugar. I almost immediately starting bring "real food" for them. They scarfed it down. So we all won. I got to cook and they got to eat. And I'm sure their parents were happy also :)

                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                          When I get the urge to cook and there's too much, I take it to church... we feed the homeless once a week and desserts are always welcome, and of course everyone wants something sweet to nibble on after church...

                                                        2. I was looking at my freezer and thinking the same thing a few days ago, but there is an ice storm heading here in the next 24-48 hours and so I'm thankful for being prepared. Tonight I'll just make sure I have fresh vegetables, fruits & cat food...and plenty of wine :)

                                                          I live alone and don't have anyone to cook for, so I've finally figured out how to portion frozen meals into 2 or 3 servings. I love popping an uncooked meatloaf or lasagna into the oven for a very easy dinner with little cleanup. Soups & chilis are great for lunch during the work week, and muffins are great for breakfast. All of these things are so convenient coming out of my freezer. I'll get on a roll when ingredients are on sale and cook a bunch of stuff in advance.

                                                          So, to answer your initial question, you are not alone!