If you close your eyes and imagine a stereotypical little girl following her mother around the kitchen, always slightly under foot or perched on counter tops to be out of the way, that was me. I spent most of my childhood in the kitchen with my Mom. I loved watching her, helping her, and just being there with her. It was something that bonded us close together. One of my favorite things about myself is that I still cook the way she does. I guesstimate on everything, never make a recipe the way it’s written, and cook by innate feel for the ingredients.
It’s something that still excites me today. But I forget that all too often. Especially when I was battling depression after we got here, I just decided that I’m not the cooking type. I reflected on when I lived alone in Houston and San Antonio and noted all the nights that I didn’t cook. And I didn’t. I’m horrible at eating most leftovers and I love eating out. But I love cooking for people. Throwing dinner parties, baking desserts, anything that involved me making food for other people to consume excites me. Especially if I get to try new recipes at the same time.
I’ll never forget the first time I cooked for B. He was coming through for a long weekend at the end of one of his training weeks. He had this thing about letting me pay for food and I wanted to serve him something that would completely wow him. I even bought flowers for my table, y’all and that never happened. I made us baked potatoes, caeser salad, Red Lobster knock off garlic cheddar biscuits, and my coconut shrimp with apricot horseradish sauce. He showed up in time to help me finish frying the shrimp. Everything was hot and ready at the same time. It was a perfect dinner.
After we first got married, on the 17th of every month I would fix a more elaborate or special dinner. Once B caught on to what I was doing, he had us cook things that we could do together. Possible our favorite tandem dinner is the General Tso’s chicken we make. I mix up the sauce and prep the chicken. Then he fries it while I run around the kitchen getting the rice, asparagus, and sauce ready. Oh yeah, and keep telling him that it’s not ready yet; one disadvantage to a color deficient husband is that he can’t tell when food is as cooked as it should be or not. Ask me sometime about the char, lettuce, and tomato sandwich that he made once.
When we moved here, we let a lot break down. I was so depressed that it would take me a half hour to get off the couch just to go to the bathroom sometimes. B’s schedule meant that he rarely came home when he should, and I used that as my excuse to not have dinner ready. We ate out, he resented it, and I just got more depressed about not being a good enough wife. Many other things built up around the house like housework, laundry, and dirty dishes in the sink. And, I convince myself that I just didn’t like cooking. Working outside of the home didn’t help as I wouldn’t get home until dinner time, so we microwaved or ate out too much still.
Last Friday, I was feeling pretty miserable. I had a cold and just wanted to curl up on the couch and relish my not feeling well. But, I had these cookies to try making. White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake cookies to be precise. And so, even though I didn’t want to, I got up and made them. And, even though we ate out for dinner that night, I felt amazing. I’d managed to make these cookies and I really felt on top of the world about it. Somehow, that simple act of baking reminded me how awesome it is to be in the kitchen. I spent the weekend looking at recipes on Pinterest and decided that my goal for December is to cook twice a week – one old recipe, one new. This week I’m cheating and doing two old recipes, but I’m cooking and that’s what matters. I also want to get back in to having people over for food. Even if it’s nothing fancy, it’s still something homemade and to be shared with friends.
Today I had baked potato soup simmering in the crock pot all day long. It made my house smell amazing. As I prepped it this morning I remembered he days of hanging out in my Mom’s kitchen. There’s something about cooking that makes me feel accomplished and happy. I’m not sure what it is about it, but I feel like a stronger person when I cook dinner. There is nothing like finishing teaching and only having twenty minutes or so of work to have a hot and hearty meal.
I wish that I knew what it was about cooking that makes me so happy. And I hope that the happy feeling kicks the rest of the inertia lingering from the depression to the curb. Because I like the me that remembers how much fun it is to cook. Anyone want to come over for dinner?