Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Joy of Cooking
Cooking and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship.
There was the first brief flirtation around the age of eleven when I took over my mother's kitchen causing her to mutter things like "flour all over the floor" and "cleaning up is part of cooking". The fliratation faded, as so many do, and wasn't rekindled until two things happened.
The first momentous event was my daughter was born. The second momentous event was I was on maternity leave and home all freakin' day long. The advice is to sleep when the baby sleeps but my baby didn't like to sleep unless she was strapped into her Baby Bjorn. So I bundled her into it and while she slept I walked.
Eventually all the walking led me to grocery stores, which in turn made me think that maybe, after all, I could do this cooking thing. The first thing I made was tomato soup, from scratch. And couscous with parsely. These were major undertakings, made with Child #1 watching me from her bouncy seat on the kitchen counter (and yes I know that's against bouncy seat rules but somehow she survived and we moved on).
It was $2.00. Kind of a no-brainer purchase. I took it home and realized that Ms. Childs was going to take me far beyond tomato soup and couscous.
Her recipes had steps. Many, many steps. And butter. Lots and lots of butter.
Slowly I began to understand the lexicon of cooking. The difference between a small dice and a chop. I began to scope out fresh produce and artisan cheese shops with a zeal formerly reserved for sample sales.
My cooking got better. A lot better. Before I knew it I was able to whip up a formal dinner for twelve without breaking a sweat and was the proud owner of every kitchen tool known to man.
Then something happened. My kids started eating food.
It's hard to get excited about spaghetti and meatballs. Matzoh ball soup and PB&J became staples in our house. They were good solid foods but not fun or sexy or joyful.
My resolve to feed my children exactly what I ate was broken by Child #1's hair trigger gag reflex. There's only so many times you can be vomited on before you decide that grilled cheese is a preferable choice to crab souffle.
And so it went. I cooked things that the little people would eat. Boring, well-balanced meals (not too spicy) and not too joyful until one day I realized two things: (1) we were no longer in the phase of life where going without dinner meant a sleepless night and (2) like all joy, sometimes you are responsible for reclaiming it yourself.