Still Cooking?

February 15, 2021

I think a lot during these days. I was just talking to my oldest and closest friend about these past months and how, for the most part, I have been doing ok. I have had moments of being low, but overall, I was managing the isolation; being cut off from those I love best (outside of my glorious husband for whom I am so grateful). But as January and February laid their grey cloaks on us and the cold days drag on and on, I find myself in a bit of a funk. I WANT my people back. I WANT my travel life back; I WANT people and the world to be well and healthy and thriving again. And I know; too bad what I want. These things take time and we must be patient and do the right things so that we come out the other side, but man…

I find myself searching for grace. I find it in the kitchen. I always find it in the kitchen; it never fails me so it shouldn’t surprise me and yet it does. Some days, it’s not as simple as it sounds but on most days, finding grace in my kitchen (along with wellness and strength) is the reason I get out of bed each day.

As we move into National Nutrition Month, I think about all we have done these past months (that are beginning to feel like centuries), cooking and doing our best to stay well and I think we could teach the experts a thing or two about nutrition.

So many of us have been flying solo for so long now, cooking for one or two people. No more dinner parties or gatherings. And that’s hard. The idea of cooking dinner is inextricably linked to serving others, even if those others are just your immediate family. We offer meals and new recipes as a kind of sacred gift.

On our own, especially during a pandemic, you might find yourself not valuing that particular gift of life quite so much. You might find yourself spooning leftovers into your mouth over the sink because you have to eat to survive, not because it is giving you any pleasure.

We must, now more than ever, resolve to do better, to find our way back to valuing the gift that is cooking…for ourselves or for others.

For inspiration, we need only look to chefs who are struggling mightily to survive this pandemic with their businesses intact. Their ingenuity is a thing of wonder. Their agility to pivot in a way that will allow them to keep their help employed and their bills paid has been an amazing story of resilience.

Chefs are confident in their art, the food they sell. And as I am a pied piper for home cooking, I realize we need to show the same resilience and stay inspired in the kitchen. Okay, perhaps we can’t build the Eiffel Tower out of chives but we can cook to satisfy ourselves and our loved ones. We can delight in the perfect loaf of bread; the perfect breakfast porridge; the new way we have learned to cook a rutabaga. You’ll find that you marvel at how good your food makes you…and others feel when you cook with grace and confidence. The simplest dish feels once again, like a sacred offering.

You’ll find you don’t need recipes (although you may always love them). You’ll walk into the market and find your muse of the week. It may be the perfect succulent winter squash, gorgeous pale parsnips; the first tender spring peas or greens. As the weeks move toward spring, let the energy of the season of rebirth guide your cooking and fill you with a renewed passion for the kitchen.

Let’s face it. We are still in the fight for our lives and while there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we still need to be vigilant about our day to day wellness if we are to come out of this pandemic ready to resume life with gusto and passion, compassion for all living creatures and the will to make the world a better place.