Food For Thought

I spent several hours from morning into early afternoon cooking. For some, cooking is a chore to be done to provide nourishment. For me, cooking is so much more.

My cooking has evolved throughout my nineteen years of marriage. Even though I grew up in a family that valued good food, my mother was not the most patient teacher when I asked her to teach me how to cook during the year that my husband and I were engaged to be married. After I got married I followed the recipes from friends and cookbooks given to me as bridal shower gifts. I frequently called my brother who had recently graduated from culinary school and was working as a chef for what I called a “culinary consult”. I also called my grandmother. My grandmother made the most beautiful lemon meringue pies. I thought since I’d watched her make those pies since I was a little girl that I could make one tool. The only time I attempted to make a lemon meringue pie, I ended up calling my grandmother in tears because the meringue fell. She just laughed and asked, “Well honey what did you do to it”. I realized then that I was not a baker and should stick to savory meals.

Over the years my cooking abilities have expanded from “I hope I get this right” to “I can do this dish”. My husband and I enjoy cooking together. We watch cooking shows and consult each other with ideas for meals. I grew up in a Sicilian family watching the women in the family cook. He grew up in a Scandinavian family watching the men in the family cook. With our different back grounds, we’re a perfect match in the kitchen and we work well together.

In the years since I’ve proclaimed myself as a writer, I’ve learned that engaging in other creative activities besides writing actually enhances creativity. Although I’ve returned to my cross stitch after a fourteen year hiatus and I occasionally enjoy my anatomy coloring book, cooking is my favorite creative outlet. There’s much to be said about the acts of planning a meal, refining a recipe, chopping, measuring, sautéeing, stirring, simmering and tasting. It requires focus and concentration and provides a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when the meal turns out delicious. Sometimes when life is stressful, focusing on a cooking a meal is a therapeutic distraction within itself.

Last year my husband gave me a compliment that I never forgot. I was on the phone complaining to him in the craft store about an assignment that our son had for his English class. He had to write poems and design a homemade notebook to put the poems in. It had been a busy week for the family and I just didn’t have it in me to help him design a notebook. My husband said, “Let me deal with this. You have the ability to think on the fly in the kitchen, not in a craft store”. Some women would have considered that a sexist remark. Not me. I knew exactly what he meant and because of that, whenever I look at a difficulty recipe and wonder if I can pull it off, I remember what he said and know that I can.

As a third generation American born Sicilian, I grew up knowing that a family meal was a sacred thing and the person who cooked the meal, cooked it out of love. I have carried those beliefs into my own kitchen and those that I cook for will always get my best.

Some weeks I only really have time to cook on the fly and get a meal on the table quickly because everyone is busy but other weeks I do have the time to try new recipes and plan different meals. Last week was an emotional and eventful week for our family and I’ve been running around for days. Despite my need to sit on the couch and relax, today I decided to cook. I approached my stove at nine o’clock this morning. In the course of a few hours I had made a long over due pot of sauce for a friend, breakfast sandwiches for my family, I put a brisket in the slow cooker and made a batch of my grandmother’s chicken soup. I was focused, organized and moved easily from one meal to the next. I also managed to jot down notes for this post. Everything I cooked today was successful and I am pleased. I finally did get the chance to relax and watch my favorite football team play their home opener. Oh and by the way, I don’t do dishes.

The Vain Man Who’s Lost His Purpose

You are a vain man and you have lost your purpose. Somewhere in your life, an incident occurred that your vanity would never allow you to admit to others and caused you to lose touch with reality. Since then you have spiraled more and more out of control faster than a tornado can rip through a mid western town.

You’ve had many valuable purposes in your life but your vanity has clouded your vision and removed your ability to see what is in front of your eyes. You had one of the most cherished purposes a man could be privileged enough to have; to be her father, her daddy, the first man in her life who should’ve loved her and protected her, taught her, encouraged her and supported her. Instead, as you positioned yourself high above her and created a world of hurt for her.

From her childhood and long into her adulthood, you’ve turned her simple rights of passage into a viscous arena for your life long game of battle of the wills. You put yourself on a high pedestal, and looked down at her while you made her struggle to achieve the simplest notches on the belt of adulthood when you should have been walking beside her through each journey of her life, cheering her on along the way.

As she grew she became wise to your cruel games and started to defend herself. You’ve been trying to drown her from the very first time she stood up to you. You then realized it was going to be more difficult to play your games than you’d anticipated.

You have now released all of your toxins into the water that she is swimming in. She is swimming just below the surface of the water. Her head is pointed upward and she can see the sky through the water. The sky is gloomy grey and the clouds are going to open up and dump hard, heavy rain at any moment. The current is very rough and the waves are choppy with whitecaps. She is trying to come up for air but she can’t just yet. She kicks her feet and paddles her arms with all her might.

She’s challenged you again and you are trying to drown her. She knows you’ve been trying to drown her throughout her life. She knows how unpredictable you are. Sometimes the sun shines and the water is calm and warm and you let her enjoy her swim. She always falls into your trap and thinks the water is going to remain calm but then you throw her back into a raging sea.

This time she had the courage to make a move in your game that you could not predict, enabling her to break free of your strangle hold. She’s climbed out of the water, cut your rotten umbilical cord and finally turned her back on your vanity, your mind games, your cruelty and the relationship you had with her. The atmosphere is so thick at the height your pedestal is on, you’ve forgotten what a good swimmer she is.