After a string of vacations, work trips and other disruptions I got back in the habit of eating out a lot, but in the past week or two I've eased back into cooking again. As I read some of my past blog entries it strikes me how quickly time flies and/or how little cooking I've done.

On the other hand, I am making progress. I am definitely over my fear of cooking chicken, and cooking is becoming less time consuming for me. Not too long ago I over-thought everything and spent too much time cooking. Now if I have the ingredients handy I can whip up something about as quickly as I could go jump in the car, drive to a restaurant and bring food back. And in most cases what I cook tastes better.

I got bored with broiled chicken and wanted to try sauteing it again to get some more brown and flavor. I cubed a chicken breast and sauteed it with decent results. I made some pan sauce with sweet white wine, some seasoning and some butter. A couple of days later I sauteed two chicken breasts to brown them decently and then finished them by poaching in white wine and seasonings. The breasts turned out fine, but I am getting bored with the simple wine or beer pan sauces. I'll have to learn to make better sauces.

I am also getting bored with hamburger meat. I've made a couple of batches of burrito meat, but each time I keep thinking I could do better with some sort of steak.

Today I got a bag of potatoes and made mashed potatoes when I got home. It was quick, easy and turned out quite well. I was surprised when I saw on my blog that I last made them four months ago. I suddenly realize again that I am indeed getting better at cooking. On a whim I bought, cooked and mashed potatoes without looking at a recipe, measuring or thinking about it. Not that mashed potatoes are hard, but not too long ago I would want to refer to the instructions to make sure I was doing it right.

I haven't made rice in quite a while. My last batch didn't turn out right, and I now realize that is affecting my desire to try again. I didn't put enough salt or chicken base in, but something else seemed off, and I didn't finish eating the leftovers. I just need to try again and get over it. I want cooking rice to become pretty basic for me.

I also still haven't tried making chili or soup. My brother in law has a couple of soups I like where he puts the whole chicken in the pot with water (no stock or base needed) then later removes the chicken and returns the shredded meat to the soup. It sounds easy and should become a regular meal for me, but I need to learn it first.

I'm also itching to make some cornbread. I saw a good looking recipe on TV and bought a cast iron skillet so I can make it. I just need to set aside some time to try it.