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Cooking


stellabella
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I'm borrowing from the "Food Is Your Life" thread under general topics. And I hope not to be too redundant.

Every time my mother-in-law comes to visit, I knock myself out for her in the kitchen. She's physically disabled, and even if she wanted to cook, she couldn't. She's a deeply kind and generous woman, but whenever I serve a meal she begins a monologue about how much she hated cooking her whole life, resented it, even, and how thankful she is she doesn't have to anymore.

At first I thought she was being a bit defensive, because I am able to do what she feels she should she be doing. But I now realize she's at least partly telling the truth, and my husband concurs--she never was much of a cook. Her heart wasn't in it. :unsure:

I am fascinated by the realization that some people hate to cook. I find it curious, because I NEED to cook in order to stay sane.

When my husband and I bought and renovated our house, we planned first and foremost a large, user-friendly kitchen, with the hope that it would be the social and spiritual center of the house. And it is. It's a beautiful room, to me, anyway. And the more bogged down I get at work, and the more hours I spend hopelessly addicted to eGullet :shock:, the more I look forward to time in my kitchen. Mostly I throw together simple, quick meals, but when I can I like to plan and shop for and cook from scratch an entire supper--best if it's to be shared with friends--but fine if it's just for me and husband.

Cooking is meditation. Sometimes I enter a trance. I find it hard to carry on conversations with guests if I am involved in something slightly complicated. It's fine with me to watch everyone else socialize while I cook. Especially after a long week, I find that once the meal is prepared and laid upon the table, I can pour myself a glass of wine and actually feel present in the moment. For me I think cooking is the equivalent of "counting to ten." If I come home anxious, disoriented, angry, cooking is the best way for me to relax.

I practice yoga and have come to understand that cooking is part of my yoga practice. It's really meditation.

Any other thoughts about what your time in the kitchen means to you? Wish you had more? Less? Why? Please share.

Edited by stellabella (log)
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Great idea for a thread. I'm getting ready to go to the Indian dinner, but I do agree with you. One thing that drives me nuts is when non-cooks or people who dislike cooking say "don't go to any trouble," when I invite them to dinner. It's like we're speaking a different language.

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I love to cook, too. It really helps me relax after a day at work--it makes me feel like I am taking care of myself (and whoever I am cooking for).

Sometimes I get too ambitious and get overwhelmed and tired, but in the end I always look back on the process with pleasure.

I wish cleaning up offered a similar high... :raz:

People seem to get it or not get it. One of my good friends just doesn't understand the effort/time/expense (ebven though he enjoys food), but for me it is part of what makes life seem rich.

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i'm so glad it is almost december when the hawkwatching winds down and i can get back into my kitchen. i love to cook for people, for myself. we were discussing this at work the other night and one of the other people said they hated it when they spent hours cooking and her husband and kids shoveled the food in and split. maybe because the nights we are able to eat together are limited by the nights i work and if he is on travel we celebrate the food and each other - candles, a fire, classical music. if it's summer we put music on the outdoor stereo and sit looking at the lake with the tiki torches burning.

i can;t get away for thanksgiving so i'm sending up homemade bread, a green bean/pearl onion/mushroom casserole, and black forest mousse pie - my sister-in-law is buying desserts, my mother-in-law is cooking the turkey breast and heating up the corn. at christmas i still astonish my mother-in-law by being able to turn a meal out all at the same time - i guarantee that when they sit down to eat at 3:30 on thanksgiving the turkey will have been out of the oven at least 2 hours and she will be frantically trying to heat the corn and the casserole in the microwave.

the women i work with tease? me and don't want their husbands to hear that i make my husband breakfast, pack him a lunch and make sure he has dinner. they keep saying that then their husbands will want them to do the same as i do. i cook for my husband because he has problems eating many processed foods, it is cheaper and i love to do it for him.

guess i'm the odd one out - except on this board

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I enjoy cooking more every time I do it. I always enjoyed baking, but not so much cooking for non-special occasion, probably because I wasn't very good at it. Now that I have learned some techniques and gained some speed and efficiency it is so enjoyable! It is similar to learning a new language: the first lessons are frustrating and unrewarding, but the first time you understand a conversation makes it all worth it and opens up a whole new world!

Thank you Stellabella for this relaxing thread!

Anne E. McBride

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Not "liking to cook" equates in some small way with "not liking to live", at least in my family. His Handsomeness (who, as I have mentioned is really the Exec Chef chez nous) and I simply can't imagine not planning, shopping and cooking every day. My mother runs a similar kitchen---thanks, Mummy!--and my young daughter now shops and cooks on a regular basis. This last fills my husband and me with great pride and thankfulness: we have contributed a human being who is Keeping the Faith in the kitchen.

As suzilightening mentioned, we too get all kinds of questions: "Don't you ever use a mix? Get carry out? Micro something?"

The answer is no. We have the time and the inclination. We eat better, healthier and cheaper. Every cuisine brings its own set of lessons and revelations.

We set the table, pour the wine, and light the candles every single night. And that's from the very first night of our (long) married life. Who knows? Maybe it's marriage therapy. If the worst argument you have all day is about whether to have pommes de terre Macaire or Pommes Savonettes it puts things in perspective.

Oh, to love washing up! But somehow, it's not so bad when we've had a wonderful meal. (With lots of good leftovers the better to stagger ones lunchmates at work.) :biggrin:

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Not "liking to cook" equates in some small way with "not liking to live", at least in my family.  His Handsomeness (who, as I have mentioned is really the Exec Chef chez nous) and I simply can't imagine not planning, shopping and cooking every day.

Now that I am no longer corporate, but stay-at-home, the thing I love the most is being able to shop daily or every other day and make sure everything is fresh, and that I can cook what I feel like cooking when I feel like cooking.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I love to cook!

I love to read about food, I love to shop for food, I love to cook the food, and I even enjoy washing the dishes afterwards.

I probably spend more time in the kitchen than any other room in the house, and think about food as much as my husband thinks about sex! :laugh:

My kitchen has a big open counter that looks into the living room, so I am never far from the family.

I also have a lot of friends who don't want their husbands to know how well I cook and that I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my husband everyday, because their's might be jealous.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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maggiethecat, I *love* your idea of dining elegantly at home every night with your hubby! I'm convinced that it was a major contributor to your long, happy marriage.

I love to cook, but I hate cooking under time pressures (so don't expect to see me on Iron Chef anytime soon :biggrin: ). It's a great way to get back in touch with the physical world after sitting at a computer all day. Baking is especially therapeutic for me -- after 9/11, I made a bakery's worth of cookies and muffins. And bread baking got me through the stresses of law school.

But boy, I wish I had more time so I could shop and cook more. And I need a robot or something to help me clean up.

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At its best, yes, but I confess I sometimes find the idea of cooking more enjoyable than the actuality. Surely I can't be the only one who, having dreamt up a nice menu during a long day at work, finds themselves chopping onions at 9.30 in the evening and thinking "I wish I hadn't started this."

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At its best, yes, but I confess I sometimes find the idea of cooking more enjoyable than the actuality.  Surely I can't be the only one who, having dreamt up a nice menu during a long day at work, finds themselves chopping onions at 9.30 in the evening and thinking "I wish I hadn't started this."

you are not alone.

but when it all comes together, and people are eating and happy, it's all worth it.

i love to cook. when i'm not cooking, i'm thinking about cooking, watching a tv show about cooking, or reading about cooking.

it is not rare for me to start planning dinner in the morning (at work no less). some of my foodie friends like nothing more than getting together and planning what we're going to serve at a party. the discussion of the menu is more fun than the actual party.

my grandmother, who always cooked, had "dreams" of cooking up until the time she died. she was basically on her deathbed, and couldn't get up or move very much. but her mind was still there. i remember her telling me that she had a dream about roasting a chicken, and she went into great detail describing every aspect of the meal she had prepared. but she realized that it was all just a dream. i suspect that made her sad. i also suspect that i'll be the same way, as i often dream of cooking. it might be important to note that clean-up is a lot easier in dreams, which i'm guessing made my grandmother very happy. :wacko:

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Especially after a long week, I find that once the meal is prepared and laid upon the table, I can pour myself a glass of wine and actually feel present in the moment.

This feeling you describe is wonderful, I can certainly realate to that.

For years, I was a 'weekend cook", making quick and relatively unhealthy, lower quality and over processed meals during the week, and then choosing an ambitious recipe or two for the weekend.

However, in the past year or two I have made strides in improving the simple, day to day meals as well. I think I've been cooking smarter and more efficiently, and using more diverse ingredients. While I can't say that my family has acknowledged the difference ( and in fact the kids would probabley prefer more frozen chicken tenders), it makes me feel good to know that they are eating healthier, as am I .

I beleive this change in my approach is in part due to e-gullet. Reading about recipes or meals with interesting ingredients, and realizing I was in a "rut", encouraged me to step up the efforts. Also, my kids are getting older, and more independent, while my business has benefitted from a few great assistants and a soaring real estate market...so while not freeing up endless hours, I have certainly gotten past the days of lugging kids around in the grocery cart with a cel phone to my ear, reaching for the rice a roni. Ok, though, true confessions, they still eat a lot of Celentano frozen raviolis.

Also, while I always enjoyed cooking, I never rec'd quite as much pleasure from the PROCESS. The planning, shopping and chopping..yes, even the clean up. I used to focus on the product, the finished dish... but now find myself focussing on the journey, not the destination. ok, true confessions, I must be getting older and wiser!

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At its best, yes, but I confess I sometimes find the idea of cooking more enjoyable than the actuality.  Surely I can't be the only one who, having dreamt up a nice menu during a long day at work, finds themselves chopping onions at 9.30 in the evening and thinking "I wish I hadn't started this."

Amen to that.

Cooking when you have time, space and clarity of purpose is one thing. Cooking that is sandwiched between carpools, phone calls, work, children falling down stairs and other domestic interruptions is something else entirely, perhaps better done in the mind.

Edited by JD (London) (log)

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Sometimes, if I'm cooking just for myself, I enjoy it very much. But living where I do that's an intermittent event.

I think I like cooking for people but the truth is I buy way too much food, spend far too long cooking -- including after the guests are arrived -- and get stressed as hell. The good thing is I've worked out that by making them wait this long, and providing plenty of wine in the interim, they are both starving and drunk when the food finally reaches their mouths and as a direct consequence they think it's fantastic.

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I love to cook, I just hate to cook for myself. I have generally simple tastes, so I experiment a little - but my tastes don't very too much. I love making Orzo dishes, omelettes, or when I have the ambition - bibimbap! :)... However, I love cooking for the boy friend. Again, its simple stuff, I haven't gotten overly ambitious yet. Although I love my apartment, I do find myself missing the oven... I think I'm going to have to get a convection oven for the counter so I can braze chicken breasts again. I found myself being a touch more ambitious when I had more space - and when I could convince the bf to do the dishes.

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It does not matter what you are cooking if you are cooking for someone you love.

See Woody Allen on masturbation.

Honestly, it's the process I enjoy. Sometimes I don't eat more than a taste of what I cook, but I'm happy to see people enjoy my creation. Ok, It's a real rush to hit a homer, I'll admit it.

Stop by for pork roast or osso buco some time.

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I can disappear into cooking for hours if it werent for other things to be done. It keeps me sane...or as close as *I* can get during my 24 hour tours at work. Its where I do most of my brainstorming. In general its very therapeutic for me...for a couple of hours I can just not look at troubling stuff in my life...vent..create...be silly (most of the time the tape in my kitchen casette player is the audience participation tape from Rocky Horror Picture Show) and just relax. Even when crush time comes for the cooking and assembling of my meal...I face it with the same verve as someone running with the bulls in Pamploma. It *is* Pamploma isnt it?

Right now were renovating the kitchen at work so we havent been doing too much cooking lately. But soon I hope to get back into things.

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I LOVE to cook. I'm not a professional chef, and won't even consider it due to the hours. However - I hate it when I knock myself out on a dish and nobody else either appreciates hte taste, or appreciates the fact that I just about killed myself getting it to the table.

For instance - my wife was insisting that we have Thanksgiving at home (as always). Not usually a problem, except my sister is having din-din at HER house, too. This means that I'd cook for my wife, 3 kids and my in-laws. The kids still think of dinner as an interruption and my in-laws won't eat anything unless it's what they're expecting. I swear - change the stuffing/dressing and they won't touch it, while the same old dressing will be gone through like wildfire (and I won't touch THAT cuz I'm so bored with it). And god forbid you stick garlic in the mashed potatos...I won't even mention the complaints about lumps in the potatos.....

I won! We're going to my sister's - now I can cook and relax. A couple favorite side-dishes and a pie or two - maybe some cookies/biscotti. They'll appreciate what I cook, I'll appreciate what's on the table and everybody's happy. This is the kind of cooking that I enjoy...cooking what I want with a loose timetable (like get it done sometime this weekend, with luck).

PS - and the mess is at someone else's house :)

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