With food, every day is a new beginning with new potential. There is always something new to try and a memory to create or even recreate. When I cook, I get to take a pile of nothing and create something. When I cook, I get to experience a constant change of flavor, color and appearance with the ingredients I am working with. In my kitchen, I am in control. The food moves at my hand and the taste is enhanced by my judgment. Mostly though, when I cook, I get to provide delicious, nourishing food to loved ones, and old and new friends alike. It is an edible hobby and it’s tasty.
In order to cook, food has to be gathered, and that process can be exciting. The grocery store is a mecca. Every day, thousands of people come to its gates to find provisions for their bodies and souls. What will they find? Some come lost and afraid, not knowing what will fill their cart. Others come begrudgingly: another task, another chore. Some come excitedly, looking at the trip as a means for their happy hobby. Yes, the task of shopping for food can be annoying on some days and stressful on others, but for the most part, it should be delightful.
Regardless of my experience, at the end of my food pilgrimage, I tend to gaze at my selections as they drift by on the conveyer belt. “I’m about to use all of these pieces to create beautiful, delicious meals.” Sometimes I even go as far as to gaze into other carts and wonder what their contents are going to piece together come dinnertime. I find endless possibilities with food, and once in my kitchen, those possibilities become tangible.
My kitchen is a pleasant place. I make sure of that. The days I don’t want to pick up a knife and put on an apron are the days that my kitchen is a total disaster. If I don’t have a pleasant workspace, I can’t move through the cooking process fluidly. When I have to stop and shove a box of crackers to the side, move dirty plates to the sink, and scrub sticky residue from a sauté pan, I become discouraged. Those are the days I want to order takeout and eat it while wearing my pajamas.
When I cook, I try to make it an experience. I make it fun. How so? I turn up the music. I put on a cute (and practical, like the ones with a pocket) apron. I pour myself a tasty drink. I make sure I’m working in a clean environment. I enjoy my surroundings.
My kitchen inspires me to pursue what I feel I was created to do. It is sunlit and comforting with tokens of memories scattered about. I often wonder what meals my loved ones served upon the tarnished serving pieces hanging on the wall. My heart sighs with the daily glances of framed recipes written by my grandmothers. I long to have just one more day in their kitchen. On the countertop, garden-fresh rosemary sits in small vases, releasing its fragrance while waiting to be used. Pictures of treasured family, friends and places watch over the kitchen from the side of the fridge. Aprons gifted from loved ones past and present hang off hooks, inviting all to try one on for size. However animate these inanimate objects are, it wouldn’t be my kitchen without the souls that bring it to life. Two pairs of little feet pattering by, a friendly white Westie laying atop my feet, laughter of family and friends, a loving embrace from the other half of my heart: This is my humble, pleasant little kitchen.
Now it’s your turn. Find potential in individual ingredients. Enrich your cooking environment and begin to transform it into a room that you want to enjoy. Meanwhile, begin to find new and old recipes to try. It’s time to be adventurous. Put that apron on, turn up the music, and pour yourself a drink. Let’s get started on your pleasant little kitchen, together.