Well, I guess one word won’t cover it.
But one prevalent word that gives meaning to this life I’ve created is….food.
The majority of my time spent in my role in our household has encompassed food.
Planning it, buying it, making it, cooking it, serving it, cleaning it up, storing it.
I read cookbooks. I don’t mean I just search for what’s for dinner tonight….but actually cozy up on the couch and read them like some people read novels. I ooh and aah over the cooks’ words and oh, my, the gorgeous photography. Barefoot Contessa, Susan Branch, Pioneer Woman, Giada De Laurentiis, and A Kitchen in France are some of my favorites.
I write recipes on cards for a now-large box I store them in. I began saving recipe cards as a teenager from relatives and Good Housekeeping. Some still have my fat-loopy-kid handwriting.
I have filled six green 3-ring binders with Cooking Light favorites. I’ve meandered through the pages so often, I even know where just that particular pork tenderloin recipe I want is among the hundreds cut from the magazines, glued to colored paper, and stored in plastic sleeves. (I’m a messy cook and the plastic sleeves have saved many a special recipe. The more mess on the sleeves tells me how loved the recipe is.)
And for my husband – he grows the vegetables and berries and is talented enough to bake gourmet-type pastries and sweets. Like my sons, he’s an artist. With him, his art is in his natural ability to grow anything and make fancy desserts – cake rolls, meringues, beautifully frosted cakes. He’s made the bûche de noel many Christmases, including the meringue mushrooms to make the yule log look authentic and croquembouche, towering tiny cream puffs stacked one on top of the other into a Christmas-tree like structure on a platter, drizzled with melted chocolate.
I, like him, show my love through food.
I take great pleasure in setting a beautiful table, even on a busy Tuesday night, lighting the candles, displaying cut fruit that is too enticing in its colors and ripeness not to taste. Raising sons, I got such satisfaction in seeing my family at table, eating hungrily amidst their busy and varied school and sports days, and dispersing to their own pursuits full and satisfied. The routine of “dinner at 6:00” made me feel I was taking care of them.
To me, food is love.
We are grateful and privileged to have enough to eat.
I look at my cooking and preparing as a gift, not a chore.
For me, cooking is a quiet and creative outlet. Chopping, sautéeing, stirring, kneading are meditative. I discovered when my sons were toddlers and life was hectic and sometimes exhausting, that pausing to make our dinner restored my sense of calm and equilibrium. With cooking, I had control. It was ordered and my focus got me out of my head and using my hands which is always good for one’s mental state.
Now, sometimes it's quiet when I cook. Sometimes I play my favorite music or stream a cooking show, pour a glass of wine. Making our evening meal is a treasured part of my day.
My husband’s family is Italian. His mom, Nana, brother and sister are skilled cooks. He was an early influencer in introducing me to cooking. For him, it has to be home-made. In fact, in his twenties, he told me heaven was….a vat of meatballs always cooking on the stove!
He’s a worker-bee like me so the process of preparing food is not off-putting or time consuming.
The process to us is life.
Frank’s family ate so much pasta….and yet, his entire family is slim. The quality of what you eat, having the structure of planned regular meals bode well for balanced and clean eating.
I learned from him early on that when you lovingly make your food by hand, eat reasonable portions, saving extras always in the fridge for a family on the go and boys coming and going as they grow up, you have a loving and appreciative relationship with your food.
I see food as sustenance, beauty, love.
I want it real, locally grown, and organic if I can. Eating the colors, the textures, the crisp and fresh is just delicious. Ideally, I would love it all to come from my back garden and wooden boxes of herbs.
I don’t have the talent of being able to grow my food….but maybe my husband can someday pass that down to me, too.