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Cooking for Therapy?


Genny
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So I had an upsetting day yesterday. I got home from the doctor’s office around 5pm. I’d taken out a couple chicken breasts and some Italian sausage for dinner already. My husband (wonderful man) offered to take me out instead so I didn't have to cook. Now, under normal circumstances, I will take up an offer to eat out any day of the week. I love to cook but I hate to clean up after. After seriously considering going out, I said “no”. I needed to cook. Now, this was a new one for me! I’ve been enjoying and learning to cook for going on 6 years now and this is the first time I’ve needed to cook for the process of cooking rather than the product. Certainly I’ve made a batch of chocolate chip cookies so I could scarf them and drown my sorrows in warm gooey chocolate chip cookies and ice-cold milk.

Does anyone else cook for therapy? What do you make?

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Sometimes after a tough day I like to throw everybody out of the kitchen, pop a bottle of wine, throw on some tunes and start chopping things. Don't talk to me; I'll be better soon.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I would say that almost all of my cooking is for therapy. I've come to the incredibly disturbing realisation that I"m not a very good eater. I appreciate good flavours and contrast ans subtlety and all that jazz, but all to often, I find my mind being distracted by other things while I eat and I've gone through half the bowl without tasting it.

PS: I am a guy.

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I second the pour yourself a glass and get cookin' as therapy. I will usually make things that require alot of prep- more elaborate stuff than a normal weeknight dinner. Favorites are homemade mac and cheese, chicken pot pie with homemade pastry, elaborate soups...basically anything that requires a good amount of chopping, steps and/or alot of fat and carbohydrates.

Om.

:smile:

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Most of my cooking is therapy as well. On a good day, what I cook is an extension of a wonderful mood - joy in the form of food for me and my family. On a bad day, cooking is solace and an escape from everything else as I immerse myself in the zen of preparing something delicious. It's meditation of the highest form, requiring focus of all the senses, with rewards in sight, taste, touch, and smell.

Om, indeed.

Edited by tejon (log)

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I'm also one of the people who after a hard day, pours a glass of wine and starts slicing & dicing. I don't know why it's so therapeutic, but it is.

Oh yeah, I try to get the most serious slicing over with before the second glass of wine. Sigh, learned this the hard way.

pat w

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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Cooking is what kept me sane through one of the most horrific jobs last year. I would come home after a 14 hour day, turn on Billie Holiday, and cook some of the most complicated recipes. It some how relaxes me and reminds me of the things that really mattered in life.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Wow! What a great topic and very timely personally speaking.

I was way down in the dumps last Friday and came home to cook chicken paprikash, potatoes madeleines, salad and a banana gallette for dessert. It was the only time all day that I felt like a human being. I used only stuff that was in the house already since I was too down to go to the store :sad: So the chicken had roasted red peppers from a jar instead of fresh peppers and the potatoes were made from leftover masheds. But I ended up feeling that I had accomplished something tangible and that, for the moment, life wasn't so futile after all.

If more of us valued food & cheer & song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. - J.R.R. Tolkien
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Heh. Cooking has been therapy for me in more ways than one. Some of the most significant bummers I've been working through in the past several years have been due to the onset of various health weirdnesses impacting my mobility etc. Oftentimes when I'd be having an especially bad bout of whatever (arthritis flare, for instance), all I'd want to do is just lie down and wait till it passed, but sometimes, especially when it was bumming me out emotionally as well as physically, I'd go on a tear of cooking especially healthy dishes for myself. Usually these would be vegetarian dishes brimming with vegetables--stir-fries, stews, soups, etc. Fortunately most of my arthritis symptoms are in the hips and knees, so I could sit and chop with abandon. I dunno if these bouts of healthy cooking/eating make all that much long-term impact on my physical health--it would be much better, I know, if I could sustain this kind of food pattern all the time--but the "zen of chopping" thang would definitely console me in the moment, not to mention the consolation of accomplishing a physical project despite the fact that my body was "betraying" me.

P.S. While web searches have turned up a variety of what I'd view as sites of questionable veracity recommending all kinds of food regimens supposed to help with osteo-arthritis, I have found no such recommendations from any trustworthy source (I mean, beyond the glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, which I'm already on). If anyone has come across more helpful info, I am all ears. Please to PM me rather than hauling this thread any further off-topic than I've already done. :smile:

Edited by mizducky (log)
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I, too, experience cooking as therapy. And I think there are some really concrete reason why many people view it that way. There is increasing evidence that activities that require repetitive motion work to reduce stress and improve mood. And like painting, pottery, photography, and many other hobbies, cooking provides a creative and artistic outlet. Good for the soul. And combining cooking with some libations, as many do, certainly helps reduce tension. :wink:

After a bad day at work, there's nothing better than coming home, going for a long run, cooking a nice dinner, and settling in to read or take a nap.

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oh my yes, yesterday being a case in point.

After preparing for a job interview, cooking lunches at our local boat club, I got a call from the Manager telling me not to bother coming down, they hired the first candidate through the door that morning :angry: hmmph, two hours of reading up and menu preparation down the drain, they asked for packed lunch suggestions, desserts and tray baked style meals, cottage pie, canneloni etc...

Once I'd cooled down I realised I was glad they called, saved me going down and messing around there for an hour, still, it irked me.

Into the kitchen, a little later curled up on the sofa, big bowl of creamy potato and onion soup, now that's therapy!

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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Cooking is definitely good therapy. The process itself is one thing -- but just being able to serve the end result to someone who appreciates it -- that's therapy in its own right.

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I had an ex boyfriend years ago who once told his friends that he could tell when I was upset because I would bake a ton of breads, muffins, and cookies.

I was feeling kind of stressed and worn out, so I went to a bookstore and then meandered around a grocery store. After that I was rejuvinated and much more cheerful.

I do think it is the process of cutting things up and prepping food is soothing. Although I have a food processor, I never use it. It just always seemed faster, cleaner and much more pleasant to chop things up with a knife.

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Sometimes after a tough day I like to throw everybody out of the kitchen, pop a bottle of wine, throw on some tunes and start chopping things.  Don't talk to me; I'll be better soon.

Sweet Jesus, this finally answers a conversation with myself as to why I've bought these lovely food processors, bread machines and assorted gizmos, only to return every night to the same three knives and the hands God gave me. Start chopping things, indeed--I think we all feel better soon, right? Part of being foodie means satisfying a tactile yen that occurs only in your own kitchen, like grabbing a dull Henckels and skinning an asparagus pencil just because you can. Like the way a face full of sweating onion steam in a shallow pan seems to release the impurities of a long day. How your kid takes bacon out of your hand in benediction.

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I love being in the kitchen while at home alone, chopping, dicing, sauteeing, whatever. Labor intenstive. Especially when I'm feeling down or overwhelmed.

I remember well when my best friend's mom died. Prior to the visitation, I was invited to share a private time with the family. When it came to the time to share some memories, everyone was silent, except me. I started talking about her sticky buns.

So, as soon as we got home, we got busy in the kitchen. Pulled out that recipe card, unmistakable because of the stains, smudges. It was ripply from having gotten wet and dried so many times.

So, we made rolls. Feasted on them at dawn.

My friend and all of her siblings wrote me notes later to thank me for suggesting cooking something of their mom's to honor her memory. My friend's brother said that knowing his belly was full of legacy of his mom at her funeral sustained him.

On another note, when I worked outside the home, I often did some dinner prep with Diana (the oldest) after the babies were asleep. It was, and remains wonderful time. We talk, we share, we laugh, and she feels good about what she's doing, and I love spending this time with her. Different kind of therapy.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Thank you all for sharing. This has really helped me. It amazes me more and more how much I'd rather be cooking, experimenting, reading cook books, going through my new favorite website :rolleyes: than actually doing the job I get paid in my 9-5. This all feeds my soul, and sometimes my belly too.

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It's that whole zen thing, where cooking becomes the meditation and the only focus is on the creativity and love that you are expressing.

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Although I have a food processor, I never use it.  It just always seemed faster, cleaner and much more pleasant to chop things up with a knife.

or make pastry by hand instead of in the machine. I love the feel of the butter and flour that turns into dough..

I also like to whip cream and eggwhites by hand. I hate the noise of the machine and there is something very soothing in the repetitive motion. Also, the magic of liquid turning into something of a whole different nature, is much more visible when you do it by hand. I love that magic, it gives me joy :smile:

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I love cooking as therapy, and it definitely eases the pain, but for one thing: I've learned to only make something I've made before. If I try cooking when I'm upset and it fails, I end up even more upset than I started.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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I would say that almost all of my cooking is for therapy. I've come to the incredibly disturbing realisation that I"m not a very good eater. I appreciate good flavours and contrast ans subtlety and all that jazz, but all to often, I find my mind being distracted by other things while I eat and I've gone through half the bowl without tasting it.

It occurred to me the other day that some people eat to live, other live to eat, and that to no small extent I eat to cook.

Kevin

Kevin

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain

Visit my blog at Seriously Good.

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