February 4, 2010

A Chef in the Making

I love to cook.

That statement, while seemingly innocuous, is huge for me. I spent 37 of my first 40 years actively not cooking. I hated it. I remember when I was little, my mother would sometimes ask me to help her make dinner. I would opt to make the salad! I never really learned how to cook anything at the hands of my mother (which I now regret) and went to college not knowing how.

I have no idea what I ate in college and beyond. I must have blocked those memories out. Lots of take-out, frozen dinners, sandwiches, and ramen noodles, I suppose. Even when I met J, I never cooked. He jokes that the one meal I made for him when we were dating was a tuna melt (simply made by putting tuna and cheese on bread and sticking it in my sandwich maker)...although that really wasn't a joke. I never cooked for him.

Not that I COULDN'T cook, mind you. I was able to follow a recipe, and certainly made some things over the years when needed: food for a Passover seder, a meal to bring to a friend's house for dinner, dessert for a party. I COULD cook, I just hated it. I found it boring, pointless, and a waste of time.

After we had our first child, D, I still never really cooked. J would come home from work and cook dinner for us. Once in a while I would make a Boboli pizza, and think I was Julia Child. It wasn't until after our second child, A, was born, that I developed an interest in cooking.

When A was born, and in the NICU for 12 weeks (and then hospitalized for another month after that) my dear friends brought my family dinner about 4 times a week. It was amazing, and I felt so cared for and loved. Most of the meals were homemade by my friends, which stunned me: my friends COOKED? What? Was I the only non-cooker in the bunch?

After A was stabilized, I decided to try a recipe. It was winter 2007, just about 3 years ago exactly. I clearly remember my first recipe I tried on my cooking renaissance: jumbalaya. It was so fun to chop all the vegetables, measure my ingredients, and prepare a tasty meal. I was hooked, and haven't stopped since.

Why do I like cooking?
  • It challenges my brain. Since becoming a full-time stay-at home mom, sometimes I feel like my mind has become mush. Managing cooking times, trying different recipes, etc makes me feel like I'm actually using my brain!
  • It gives me a creative outlet.
  • I like knowing what is IN my food, and take comfort knowing that everything I eat is 100% vegetarian.
  • It give me "alone" time without being alone. I usually cook while the kids watch tv or play in the next room (which is attached to the kitchen). I can watch them, and still be by myself. Better yet, sometimes I put on my iPod and cook to my favorite tunes.
I have found that I am a good cook! I am not the sort of cook that can make up recipes in her head; actually, I need a recipe to follow, and will seldom deviate from it. But I have made more "advanced" food such as risotto, wontons, (vegetarian) sushi, and souffles. It's fun! Just this month I took a pasta-making class through our local adult ed, and now have a pasta maker to make my own ribbon pastas and raviolis.

My main audience is my husband. He is who I cook for. On days when he's not home for dinner, you can be sure I'm making something low-key such as spaghetti. I love to see his reaction when we eat dinner; it feels good to have him enjoy what I make.

I welcome all vegetarian recipes, and would love to hear from any of my readers!


  1. I am glad you have found a love for cooking. Food is what keeps families close and is like living history. We remember the foods our mom's made. And nothing ever tastes as good as what mom made. You know the sayings. Like you said, it is good creatively and it is also a good time to relax and think. Plus you get to enjoy the bounty of your efforts. Bon appetite!

  2. I have started to really enjoy cooking too!! I bought a new cookware set and Chad jokes that my cooking has come alive and he wishes I would have bought the new cookware years ago. :)

    I want to provide healthy meals for my family and I love the praise I hear from my 5 year old when I make a dish that is out of this world.

    Good post friend, good post!!


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