Friday, November 2, 2007

Food For Thought

Fresh Baked
You may have surmised from this previous post that when it comes to cooking, I'm rather a novice. And though I sometimes think I can get away with stating, "Hey, I'm only 24!" I have a sneaky suspicion that there are plenty of ten year olds (if not younger) who have cooked more than me. Adding to the fact that I've been married for close to 6 1/2 years only makes the situation look even worse for me as I've had plenty of opportunity to test out my handiwork. So why have I fared so poorly in this department you may ask? It's certainly not that I don't like to cook - quite the contrary indeed. Whenever I get around to it, I enjoy the process - not to mention the result - immensely. I'm sure I can chalk it all up to a few unredeeming qualities I possess, but we won't get into that here. What I do want to talk about are the strides I have made in this category just this past year. I have made excellent progress as far as cooking and baking goes - largely spurred on by my growing dedication to a sustainable future that includes eating more local and seasonal foods. This has resulted in baked acorn squash, lentil and potato stew, corn on the cob, peach bread, peach cake, apple cake, home-canned tomato sauce, along with other delectable dishes that have rarely graced our table in the past (sad - or pathetic, whichever you so choose - I know).
Another inspiration for this whole cooking at home deal is my love for great food and the lack of it on most menus in my vicinity. Not to mention it's a whole lot cheaper to eat at home. Plus I love the cozy, inviting feeling that cookies baking in the oven or garlic sizzling in a buttered pan emits. A lot has been written about the kitchen as a gathering place. It brings people together and forms strong relationships with the food its self. We are immersed in the idea of food - not in just how it sustains us, but how we relish its existence for the shear joy and comfort it brings. In fact, we even use food terms to describe other aspects of our lives. For instance, you can butter someone up, cook one's goose, take things with a grain of salt, be worth one's salt, you can go cold turkey and we can talk turkey, you can take the cake, but you can't have it and eat it too, things can be pie in the sky, you can go whole hog, and you can even ride the gray train. Good gravy! Food is certainly an integral part of our lives and a welcome addition to the tables in our homes.
My home -or rather the people in it - is the biggest reason for this surge in homemade meals. (This is due mostly to the newest member, our nineteen month son. We may have been slightly sloppy with our own nutrition, but now that we have a child, it's time to clean up our act.) For me, cooking is one of those things that makes a house a home. I feel that by cooking hearty meals for my family I am also offering up love, warmth, care and creating familiarity, togetherness, and memories. I know that this also makes an opportunity for nutritious choices and for learning about sustainability, conservation, plants, soil, and the health of the land. I am glad to be able to give this to my family (and of course to receive it when my husband cooks).
So, this year has seen much growth from me as far as cooking and baking go. I have minced, diced, chopped, sliced, and whatever else you can do to an onion or potato. I have made many ordinary dishes for the first time. I have baked from scratch, and even concocted my very own recipe, or two. Of course I only plan to continue and improve upon my skills because there's nothing better than a home-cooked meal. So raise your glasses. Here's to good food served with care and thought. ( A bit cheesy, eh?)

6 comments:

Walter Jeffries said...

Be sure to teach your kids to cook from a very young age. I loved helping my parents and our kids, even as young as two, love helping cook and do dishes, set up, cleanup, etc. In fact, they do the cleanup and dishes each evening while we read aloud from what ever the the current book is. Over the last 15 years this has mean we've gone through all the Little House on the Prairie books, Oz, Fool and many others. A great daily time together.

SegoLily said...

I think that is excellent! Growing a love for cooking, reading, and of course spending quality time together as a family. My nineteen month old loves to watch and help me cook. I let him dump in ingredients and stir things. He especially is fascinated with eggs at the moment. :)

Pattie said...

Any time a child askes, "Can I help?", just remember to answer, "Yes" even if, in reality, you want a moment of quiet to yourself. There is always something they can do in the kitchen, however small or insignificant it may sound to you. And if you are brave enough to give them a job that actually seems too big ("How about you make the applesauce? Create your own recipe," I'll say, or "Figure out how to coat this chicken with this topping. I can't get it to stick"), you'll see them rise to the challenge in surprising ways!

paishi8 said...

I enjoyed your latest blog and even though life is not just a bowl of cherries and cooking is not necesarily as easy as pie, each wholesome, thoughtful thing you do for your family can make you the apple of their eyes or the cream in their coffee. (heh, heh) Good work!

Liz said...

Thinking sustainably certainly forces you to become a more adventurous cook. I find myself doing things like taking left over veggies and chicken and making soup. I used to think soup came from a can! I even picked up a bunch of in-season greens the other day just so I'd force myself to find a new recipe and try a new veggie! And hey, now I know how to cook greens!! I still don't fancy myself a cook, but maybe some day.

~ Liz
www.naturesharmonyfarm.com

Linnet said...

good job, paigerella! sure wish someone would make me some chocolate chip cookies...