I have been oh, so tempted to write about political occurrences in the country of late–protests in the great state of Wisconsin, the House vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood, etc. I’m really plugged in to what’s happening in our country and the world right now. While that might be a satisfying use of my time, and believe me, I do love to get up on my soapbox as any of my Facebook friends would testify, I don’t believe it would be an advantageous use of blog space. We all have our opinions. We probably won’t change ours because we hear or read someone voicing theirs. So let me just say, I pray for a fair resolution to the Wisconsin dilemma, New Zealanders, Haitians, the Senate when they vote on Planned Parenthood funding, and all of those overseas who are fighting for the right to have a say in their governments. I pray for peace, love, understanding, cooperation, and humanity.
No, today I’ll settle in to talk yet again about food. I’ve been wondering why I’m so drawn to cooking. I’d love it even more if I had a kitchen assistant. When I cook, I don’t pay attention to anything but the cooking. I’ve mentioned that before and how drained I am after making a meal. I’ve speculated that is so because of the effort and brain power and attention I put into it. I suppose that ever since I was given an Easy-Bake oven when I was a child, cooking has had the power to enchant. Sometimes, when I am working on learning a skill, I am impatient. If I can’t get it right soon after taking it up, I tend to put it aside. I lose interest easily in long projects. But I can bake and frost a cake completely from scratch in under two hours. I love the planning and preparation that goes into dinner parties. My wedding to MCF took place in a friend’s back yard and one of the attendees told us it was the most romantic wedding she’d ever attended. We cooked and baked everything but the cake, ham, and the tandoori chicken–an Indian and American buffet and we made all of the decorations. The tables were beautiful with just-potted flowers in new terra-cotta pots and saucers. My friend had antique champagne flutes and wine glasses and tableware. Ah, beginnings. With some people beginnings are so much better anything else. I hope that some day I have a grand beginning and middle and end. Pardon the tangential musings and back to the subject at hand. I loved the planning and the shopping and the prepping and the cooking and the serving. Seventeen years later and I can still tell you what we prepared: in the amuse bouche category, Moroccan lamb pies, tabouli bites, Tex-Mex cornmeal muffins with salsa, potato and pea samosas, and shrimp cocktail. For dinner on the Indian side, tandoori chicken, rice, raita, and cauliflower, peas, and potatoes. On the American side, ham, au gratin potatoes, salad, and homemade clover leaf rolls. There were tons of soft drinks and fizzy juice drinks and plenty of Heineken. We had a lovely cake from a boutique bakery that was part carrot cake and part white cake. Really, I suppose I should be more immodest about it, but it was all spectacular. I had such a great time and I felt so much love from friends and family. It was a joint effort in some regards with friends like M&M* and Ash* helping with the cooking. Other friends rounded up chairs. And D’s son lit firecrackers at the end. Amazing what people can accomplish when they come together.
I suppose OCD comes in handy when it’s time to plan–the being detail-oriented and organized part of OCD. I suppose it’s also handy in cooking as well. But I don’t believe that’s where my passion comes from, some of my pleasure maybe, but not my passion. I love reading cookbooks and have a modest collection and issues of Bon Appétit going back to 1997. I love kitchen gadgets. I recall buying an egg topper and egg cups when I was 17. I love shopping and trying new varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as the colors, textures, and smells. I love the alchemy involved in baking and having knowledge of how much gluten each kind of flour contains. I like knowing that whatever I make is probably going to turn out pretty damn well. I love creating recipes and finding some that are perfect as is. I love finding out that I like something I didn’t think I was going to. I love dishes and serving- and tableware and linens. I like to joke that my heart rate goes up and I begin to pant in the housewares sections of department stores and Cost Plus World Market. I love my new pressure cooker almost as much as I love my grandmother’s pre-WWI pressure cooker. I’m a foodie. What can I say? I used to try to be a perfectionist about everything. OCD is definitely not helpful there. A person can’t do everything perfectly and shouldn’t try because what ends up happening is that you become paralyzed. So I decided that I would allow myself to be a perfectionist in some areas. And you guessed it! Cooking is one of them. I’m okay with that. And so are all of my friends.
I recently made Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Icing. Wow! What a treat! My daughter loves strawberries so I went searching for a fresh strawberry cake/cupcake on the web and I’m so glad my search turned up this recipe. The cupcakes are sweet little buttery cakes studded with bits of fresh strawberries. The frosting–what can I say about icing that calls for 3/4 of a pound of butter and fresh puréed strawberries? What need I say? My children absolutely loved them as did everyone else who tried them. (The only thing I would do differently is to add a bit of salt to the icing). It’s funny, when I’m cooking, I always wish that I could have my loved ones over to eat. That’s because I always think thoughts like, “I bet Trey* would love these cupcakes,” or “I know Mom would love this lemon cake,” or “Dad would really enjoy these ribs.” I know what my loved ones enjoy. A cook’s way of showing love is understanding her peeps’ tastes and cooking to satisfy them. At least, that’s how it works for me. And there’s the thought that remains present when I’m cooking that I am an empath and I heal with food (according to Zelda* and that girl has an amazing gift).
I have been harsh with myself of late, beating myself up. It’s really terrible. I have been having trouble finding things I do right. I love to read, but that isn’t necessarily a talent that as middle-aged woman it’s particularly great to have, aside from being able to read what one needs to survive and progress in the world. I mean, who has ever shouted out, “She’s a damn fine fiction reader?” So I’m thinking that I need to take stock of what I do well that’s useful. (I’m pretty good at getting my Republican friends riled up on Facebook, but again, while the results are entertaining, I’m not sure that qualifies as a skill). I think an inventory is in order. I’ll have to get some assistance on this from my friends. I would like to say that I’m a reasonably good writer, and that is a very marketable skill, something I can be proud of. I’m not sure what’s up with me this week. Perhaps it was seeing MCF in court? All of the criticisms he has leveled at me over the twenty-year span I’ve known him are ricocheting around in my head. And his is one voice among many I’ve attempted to nullify. A friend of mine taught me to think, “What he says and thinks is none of my business.” I really do try very hard to tell myself that when thoughts pop up. I usually succeed. Obviously, though, I need to work harder. And that I shall.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde
1.) For my children, always, and especially for (mostly) enjoying what I whip up for them in the kitchen.
2.) Food, glorious food! Pots, pans, utensils, gadgets, beautiful serveware, bakeware, silverware, glasses–the whole shebang.
3.) Trey, because he lets me cook for him, and he does dishes!
4.) My mother and grandmother, who gave me my start in cooking.
5.) Pennie and Lady, who love my cooking too.