Tonight, with any luck, I will have a real recipe post (yes about time, I know). Although it’s no excuse, life has been hectic lately. But until then, I had a few musings about food I wanted to share.
The motivation for this post is a book I just started reading. It’s called “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg. My mom raved about this book for months and finally she decided she had waited long enough for me to take the hint, and brought it to me. Well, my GRE exams are over (successfully, I might add) and my graduate school applications are almost done, so I decided I deserved a little bit of pleasure reading.
I was immediately hooked. Very few people feel the same way about food and the kitchen as I do. It’s hard to explain. It’s not just eating (although I do really like that), and it’s not just about the process of making (though that’s a favorite too). It’s so much more. It’s that every great experience in my life somehow has a food component. It’s that my favorite places usually center around a warm, comfortable kitchen. Family is incredibly important to me and food and cooking are so intertwined with family holidays and celebrations, that they simply can’t be separated.
Well, compared to this book, I completely butchered my attempt at trying to describe this feeling I have. She brilliantly weaves memories and recipes and stories about her family without sounding like a crazy person recanting things from her childhood (yes I’ve been known to be that crazy person). Anyway, clearly I am a fan. I think part of my instant attachment came from many shared experiences.
Molly’s Dad was the cook in her family, my mom ran the kitchen in mine. She did all the meals, snacks and everything in between. My dad always contributed by grilling meats and such, but really it’s my mom’s area of expertise. As a child, we would visit a fancy restaurant here and there for a special occasion, but eating out was never a regular activity. As someone trying to cook dinners for my little family now, I am amazed by how often my mom made a healthy, interesting meal. Not only did she have a protein, but inevitably there were veggies, starches and usually fruit. The thought of that on most week nights for me is simply exhausting. Sure we had favorites, but I don’t think we had ruts, or I was too young to notice. That’s no small feat! I am always struggling to find new recipes, I still don’t know where she got hers from.
So many of these recipes, I now make on my own and have absolutely no idea where or when they came from, but I love them all the same. I think my own cooking style reflects my experiences. There is no other way to describe it, I am a tidy cook. I don’t like mess. I don’t like extra things on the counter, whether they be ingredients that have already been used or a little bit of spilled flour. Chlorox wipes are my best friend in the kitchen. I’m also a little bit of a control freak. Ok, that’s a lie. In the kitchen, at least my kitchen, I am a huge control freak. For those of you who know me personally, I am sure you are shocked. I measure my ingredients meticulously, especially for baking, love to follow recipes, and always ALWAYS lay out my ingredients before I start.
My mom is the messiest cook I’ve ever seen. There are splatters here and spills there. She has stuff all over her hands and dirty dishes threatened to topple out of the very large sink. She doesn’t wash off measuring spoons before using them again and doesn’t seem to care if olive oil gets on the counter (which literally makes me cringe thinking about it). Almost always, the first thing I do when I go home is clean the counter- which ironically she really appreciates.
But, she is also an amazing cook. I know pretty much everything I do, at least about food, because of her. I still call her to ask questions about how long I should cook something or what spice to use. Much like Molly, I get frustrated because she doesn’t write more things down. I’ll ask her how she made something and get a “oh a bit of this and a handful of that”.
Anyway, for anyone who likes food, even a little, read this book. It not only is fascinating, but explains my purpose for this blog better than I will ever be able to do. Basically, if I can share 1/10 of my love of all things culinary with you, I will consider my efforts a success.
Love to you all…