It occurred to me — as I was roasting a batch of mini potatoes, stirring a pot of sparkle Rice Krispie squares and checking that my Breton Brittle was chilling — that there’s something that makes me so happy and content that I haven’t written about here yet. No, it’s not my addiction to all things Law & Order. It’s cooking.
And baking. Working in my kitchen on dishes make me feel so relaxed and at ease that I’m practically humming “Whistle While you Work” while I’m chopping peppers, stirring soups or checking whether the angel hair has reached al dente yet. The smells that tumble out of my kitchen while dishes are cooking or baking give me comfort. That kitchen is my space to organize, create and present what I’ve worked on.
Really, it’s the ritual that warms my heart — I step into my kitchen, flip my radio on to CBC and start pulling out pots and pans and ingredients that have been waiting patiently in my fridge to be turned into sausage and pepper pasta toss or lemon cranberry coconut squares. (Promise me you’ll only make these squares if you have an ounce of self-restraint, because they’re so tangy and addictive!) I wash my dishes and utensils as things cook and bake, while occasionally letting a little taster into my kitchen to steal an ingredient or a sample of finished product. But they’re kids, so they generally prefer noshing on a wedge of cheese over tasting a bite of cheese-smothered baked ziti.
I often cook throughout the day. I work from home and my dining-room table — my home office is a little chilly this time of year — is only steps from my kitchen, so I can keep an eye on that batch of homemade pasta sauce simmering while I’m putting a story together. Ask me to cook or bring something to a party and you’ll get an enthusiastic yes — any chance I get I cook for others, whether it is frozen pink lemonade squares for a friend’s dinner party or batches of meat lasagna and sugar cookies for a teacher-appreciation lunch.
Looking around my house, it’s clear my love of cooking spills out of my kitchen — Chatelaine recipes are often bookmarked on my laptop, as are recipes from this lovely food blog. On Twitter, many of the recipe tweets coming from the Food Network Canada make me want to stop, drop and cook. In my living room, Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink waits casually on my bookshelves.
Oddly, I don’t necessarily love to eat the finished product. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m tired of the food once it’s produced. What I clearly enjoy is the process — it’s calming and comforting to me. I’m a recipe kind of girl — I don’t usually go rogue when cooking — and sifting through my many, many clipped and bookmarked recipes is a happy little weekly ritual I take pleasure in as I plan my grocery list.
And with that, I need to check on those potatoes…