Happy Friday! I know this is a long weekend for some of you so I hope you’re able to relax and enjoy the extra day off. Will is on a bachelor party this weekend so I’m planning to catch up with a few girlfriends and get in a workout or two. I hope you all have a good one!

This week’s rose was spending Valentine’s Day with my mom. After a cooking fiasco earlier in the week (see this week’s thorn below), she volunteered to walk me through Trader Joe’s and share her go-to items. Since I’m easily overwhelmed in both the grocery store and the kitchen, it was so helpful to learn which products she picks up every week, which ones she stocks in the freezer just in case, etc. I’m so excited about having a better stocked fridge and freezer as I dip my toe into the world of meal prep!

This week’s thorn was my attempt to cook myself dinner on Tuesday night. I swear to God I followed the instructions listed on the back of the container, but the quinoa I was trying to make managed to be both completely undercooked and crunchy on top and absolutely burnt to a crisp at the bottom of the pan. I stirred it around but I guess not enough? I was planning to roast veggies to eat with said quinoa, but apparently sweet potatoes get mushy and wet when they’re starting to go bad, which I didn’t realize until I’d roasted them with everything else and… they were still mushy and wet and definitely bad. I felt so defeated scraping charred quinoa into the trash can — like, “oh right, this is why I never do this!”. Clearly I have a long way to go in developing any confidence in the kitchen… but in the mean time microwavable quinoa and rice are going to be my BFFs. 🙂

24 thoughts on “THIS WEEK’S ROSE AND THORN

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  1. I’ve been cooking for my husband and I for the past 9 years and now our 1 year old had added a whole new toddler element to our mealtimes! I often find myself frustrated with getting bored of cooking the same thing. I would love love love to see a poet on what your mom recommends and what her weekly go-tos are at the store! What are her staples?

  2. Geeze, just read the negative comments. It is nice to read some “I Love Lucy”and self deprecating kitchen moments in the context of this often sad world.

  3. Why is quinoa so tricky and emotional?!! I consider myself fairly a adept cook and have never been successful and have totally had a *melt down* over a burnt pot of it before. So now I’m like whatever TJs it is! Haha

  4. THATS the cooking “fiasco” you’ve been talking about for days. Wow. Get over yourself. Worse things are happening in this world than your burnt quinoa and old sweet potato. I’m sorry but I can honestly never read your “blog” again after this post. How about the school shooting as your “thorn”
    So disappointed. Just wow.

    1. I agree with you Kendall. I am not a regular reader but come and visit here every now and then; however I will stop even that.

    2. That’s a bit uncalled for. I would also like to see more content variety on the blog, but Mackenzie has never stated that the Rose/Thorn series was meant for anything beyond brief personal fun/self-deprecating moments.

      1. MH, I’ve been reading blog for YEARS and I’m fairly certain this is my first time commenting. Please don’t change anything – after reading multiple articles and post about the shooting, crying about it and asking why these things still happen, it was nice to have a giggle over your quinoa mishap (I’m proud to say I know my way around a kitchen or two, and to this day I still can’t make quinoa)

        I want to add – anyone that has been reading your blog for any amount of time, knows that your heart is always in the right place.

  5. I feel like getting a HomeChef box every other week has really increased my cooking skills! Although the box gives you all the ingredients along with a recipe, it has really reinforced some basic but necessary skills. Worth a shot – plus it’s nice to know that you can cook three meals a week as a couple.

  6. Quinoa is hard! I totally agree with Kate about classes at Sur La Table – they are hands on, totally fun and worth the price. The knife skills class is a great and necessary primer. Go for it!

  7. I am a pretty good home cook, yet I can NEVER make rice or quinoa properly! I think rice and grains are actually pretty tricky to get right. I also consistently screw up potatoes (sweet and white). Don’t get discouraged, you truly picked two toughies!

    I agree with all the other comments. Get a rice cooker! They are foolproof. Rice and quinoa come out perfectly every time. My husband was skeptical of the rice cooker, but now agrees it is one of our best kitchen purchases. I second the suggestion for a knife skills class. You can take them at Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma, and they are a great date night activity. They also have themed classes, like A Night in Paris, where the instructor goes through each step. It’s a good way to learn, have fun, and have a professional gently correct you if needed 🙂

  8. I second the rice maker comment. My sister-in-law gave us one for Christmas a few years ago and as someone who doesn’t each much rice, I thought I’d never use it. But to my surprise, I use it nearly every week to make big batches of quinoa, steel cut oats, farro, and other grains. Everything always turns out perfectly and the best part is you can set it and walk away – no watching or stirring!

  9. Not just you… I HATE making rice or quinoa on the stove because it never goes my way! As a pretty real adult in all other realms, those two items always defeat me in the kitchen.

  10. I agree with Kellie. Rice cookers are great. A cookbook like “How to Cook Evertything: The Basics”, which has a lot of vegetarian recipes or ones that are easily modified, along with step by step photo instructions is really helpful. And finally, from someone who grew up cooking – take a knife skills class. They are invaluable and can really prevent kitchen catastrophes! Then just practice and don’t get discouraged. The more you cook, the better cook you will be.

  11. As a former hopeless case who has moved up to mildly confident home cook (as in my meals are actually edible now!), 3 pieces of advice/ suggestions:

    1) Buy a rice maker. They are awesome and I have not had to deal with burning in pans for a decade (my husband made fun of me when I insisted on registering it but it is awesome).

    2) Find a simple cookbook that fits into your lifestyle/meal planning and stick to it. I used the Skinnytaste cookbooks but only using the 1-2 books has helped me for two reasons. One is I’m not so overwhelmed with options when it comes to making a list or meal prepping. The second is that I had the habit of picking random and complicated recipes from Pinterest that were way above my skill level. Plus sticking to one book means you’re probably more likely to make the same recipe again and again, building your skills.

    3) Take a class at Sur la Table or something that is focused on skills. My husband made me take a knife skills class because apparently I was terrifying with one haha. It was like a 2 hour class one Saturday, so low commitment, and it helped so much in my confidence to actually prep properly.