pens or pins? that is the question...

What's one to do when the heart and hands enjoy words and fabric, the pattern of paragraphs and quilts to an equal enthusiasm? To solve my dilemma I'm writing the print that stirs me and sharing the journey of blending fabrics into quilts and wearables, the discovery of old--be it quilts or friends, and the pleasures of today. Come...have a visit with me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's supper time - again!

I am sick of cooking. WAIT, before you flip to the next page and say "no whining", let me explain.

Yesterday I went to my neighbor's house for our late afternoon girlfriend meeting (side note: we country neighbor women join together once a month to laugh, to share and to eat!) This month Charlotte hosted our get together. As I entered her beautiful white kitchen, my eyes and nose were captivated by the sights and smells of food.  My taste buds said "oh my" as I looked at her homemade gumbo (from her home grown garden), salsa (her tomatoes and peppers) and peach cobbler (again, her peaches). In addition she had planned a step by step demo of how-to home can tomatoes, in hot sterile Kerr pint jars. Every detail, perfect.

Tradition is forming in our newly organized neighborhood group, but for now friends show their appreciation of the host by bringing a snack for sharing. We meet late in the afternoon, at 4:30, but that quickly runs into a supper hour and we seem to always be hungry, Holding true to my need for kitchen relief, I took watermelon and cantaloupe from the  farmer's market to our neighborhood event, --yep, so I didn't have to cook. And to your curiosity about Charlotte's spread--it was superb and we all enjoyed her wonderful fare.

From my neighbor's excellent culinary skills is another friend's extreme of "I don't cook." (She has a full time cook).She generously supplies paper goods or fresh flowers to dutiful social events, but NEVER home made food. She gladly reminds us "I don't cook."

But back to my emotional "cooking sickness" Actually, I'm somewhere in-between my two friend's extremes. Today, during my attitude meltdown of "cooking again" I realized my Richter scale hits about five. I decided to conduct a self diagnosis of my problem. Why am I weary of cooking? I did the math. I figured 40 years of cooking, 350 days a year X 3=42,000 meals, give or take.

I've scrambled eggs, made cinnamon rolls, fancy pies and cakes from scratch. I've cooked food for the ill and food for expectant moms. I've cooked Wednesday night suppers after working all day, Sunday lunches for eight at 6 a.m. and packed school lunches. I've bought weekly groceries, made jellies and homemade pickles, cooked in a jiffy and served Thanksgiving for 20, Martha Stewart style. And, many times I've made napkins and arranged flowers for the perfect image, the same afternoon as the party.

But, back to my cooking illness. I have NO fever. I have no headache. I love great food. I enjoy shopping the produce aisle, buying and reading cookbooks, cooking blogs, giving parties that involve great food.  So--what are my symptoms? More important, what is the remedy?

Analytically I began diagnosing my cooking illness.  So obvious, even I recognize the problem. It is not cooking, it is the routine. It is the expectation that the daily dinner table is waiting on me--even if I am in the middle of a great quilt or the second draft of my short story. I can't ignore the task of food and other's expectations of food in a scheduled manner. My right brain non-cooking mode is interrupted. I am forced to quit my creative journey and chop lettuce, grill chicken and peel potatoes, in keeping with the expected schedule.

Perhaps the negative word "sickness" is an over simplification of my thought process. My sickness involves the what and how of many innovative (let's see what I can put together) meals, multiplied by weeks, months and years. It is chopping, cutting and watching a simmering pot for 45 minutes, then eating it in 10 minutes. It is scheduled duty without relief, my duty to use my skills to feed family and friends. It is the repetitive"no milk in the refrigerator" duty that becomes my trip to the grocery. The repetitiveness duty my problem. And in all honesty, maybe it is because I never give the duty away. Maybe I have an attitude problem, not a duty problem. 

Reviewing my dilemma (attitude or duty), I am determined to find a cure.So, to overcome my pain and frustrations with the daily chore of cooking, I'm trying to regroup my attitude and daily procedures. I'm reaching for friend's suggestions, good cookbook reads and observing successful cooks-- those that enjoy the daily three-some of cooking (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Here are my goals. Reader's, please will check on me:

1) I vow to plan ahead. (another friend organizes supper at breakfast. Her duty is finished for the day.)

2) I vow to enjoy the colors, flavors and generosity of God's bounty. I will sketch, photograph and admire the beauty of the endless choices. And my mind's eye will remember mom's cooking--the skill of her hands and her voice saying "dinner is ready." I wonder if she had the cooking illness?

3) I vow to pull a cookbook from my 40 year collection and enjoy the memories. Basic cooking 101, Better Homes and Gardens, Fannie Farmer, and others. I'll review and remember with fondness friend's recipe cards with names of Marjorie, Suzanne, Sherry, Betty,Judy, Marcia, Fran and Alisa, all written on the line "from________."

4. I vow to cook as nutritionally (simply) as possible, and be satisfied with that choice.--because I really want to "create" in the kitchen. Simple is often boring to me. I adore the beauty of sauces, presentation, the extra touch. But health demands simple...give up the fluff (except for special occasions).

5. I will give dinner parties more often (for me, that isn't cooking--it is entertaining). The journey of menu planning, table setting, succulent flavors and textures coming together--is a high point for me.

6. And I vow to share a date night out with hubby. I can't wait to give the cooking to a different chef!

And today's first cookbook read: A great cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. This chef put together an amazing story of veggie food-742 pages! And she has other cookbooks, to boot! --a great library find.

And one of God's scriptures on food:  Genesis 1:29
"I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."

And as Julia Childs always said, "Bon Appetit'"

Til later,