Joy in the Kitchen
I know this post is tagged as “cooking,” and you may be looking for a recipe. I don’t know if you’ll find one or not. It’s more of a random meander post than a recipe post. For a few moments I want to talk about cooking.
I love to cook. Not that I have much formal training in it: I learned in the kitchen with my mother, I learned around the camp stove and campfire in Boy Scouts, but I’ve never had a “cooking class.” Unless you count the Table for Two night at the Rockefeller Institute up on Petit Jean, where we learned how to make one dish. (Speaking of, if you’d like to sponsor a return trip…let me know. Or if you’re in PR for WRI and want to comp a blogger to participate, I’m up for that.)
I’ve learned that my creative side comes through more in the kitchen than anywhere else. You see, in the kitchen, certain facts matter but they are hard to dispute. For example, chicken is either cooked or raw—once you get it past raw and into “done” where it’s unlikely anyone will get deathly ill from it, you can do whatever your heart desires. It’s simple, and you can’t misconstrue it. (Likewise, there’s just no way to misunderstand raw chicken. It’s nasty, no matter what you do with it.)
Beyond basic facts like “raw” and “cooked” or “poisonous” or “healthy,” there is wide freedom. Certain things work better than others, but you’re not really bound to a hard list. In fact, I find many interesting things just by tossing two odd flavors together and trying to build a bridge between them.
Sometimes, I fail. I really do. My beloved wife won’t admit to it, but I have served up some awful stuff. Food Network once did a “Worst Cooks in America” show, and I have put stuff on the table that would have won me that show. In one episode.
But you try, and you try again. Because you have to eat, and you might as well learn to love getting it all together. Plus, there is this immediate feedback on whether you’ve done any good at all.
And that feedback is honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a pastor-teacher for my local church, but the feedback on whether or not I’ve done well is tough to filter. I have some people who I have made angry, and giving them a kidney wouldn’t get a positive view from them. Others are happy, and they’d give me a kidney. Just to keep in a jar, in case I needed it, because they are kind and gracious and like me.
So it’s tough to sort out this question: Is what I have done good?
At the table, though, I get immediate and honest feedback. Is it good? It’s eaten quickly! Is it bad? Then the parenting skills have to come out and get it done. Is it awful? Then cookies are necessary…
I love it, and find joy in it. Find joy in the normal parts of life, and see how much it grows.
Oh, and recipe? Don’t have one, but I did discover that you can pan fry shredded mozzarella and get a result not unlike halloumi. And it’s a lot easier to get mozzarella.