Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cooking. . . Because I Want To

I like to cook.  No, really, I do like to cook.  That fondness for spending hours in the kitchen has, through the years, gotten me varied comments from admiration, to amazement, to downright aggression.  There have actually been some people who act like I should not be happy toiling for my family's food.  After all, women are liberated these days.  Grocery stores full of heat-and-eat meals abound.  Not to mention the number of restaurants and fast food establishments there to take the burden off of me.  Just pull in, order whatever my heart desires, wait two minutes, and have food handed to me, hot and ready to eat.

Except for one major thing.  My heart desires good food.  Not just good tasting, but actual honest-to-goodness good-for-you food.  My system seems to be pretty sensitive to intrusive ingredients hiding in most of the conventional fare calling itself 'food' these days.  Artificial sweeteners kick off headaches and even migraines, depending on which sweetener it is.  Certain oils give me immediate gastric distress (usually the ones you look on the ingredients list and say "What the heck is that?!?  Whatever happened to corn oil?"  Other things are more sneaky, waiting a while after ingestion to make me feel not up to par.  And let's not even mention my eczema, which hasn't hardly bothered me at all since I went to scratch cooking and organic gardening.  'Nuff said.

So I don't want to be liberated from my kitchen.  I don't want to have 'more important things' to do.  I want to cook.

Unfortunately I have found that somehow, as this year has gone by, I have been separated from my kitchen more and more often.  Oh, I do spend eight to ten hours a week in it creating all my farmers market baked goods, but I have not spent much time daily creating good food for my family's meals.

I don't do boxed stuff, no matter how time crunched.  Frozen and microwaved are not allowed here.  (Heck, I don't consider the microwave a real way to prepare food, as I strongly suspect the food isn't as nutritious once it leaves the microwave as it was when it went in.)  For me, time crunched means one of my quickie "30 minutes to cook" menu items.

Which are all fine and dandy once in a while.  But when quickie fixes become five days a week, week after week, month after month, well, that is not fine and dandy with me.  I don't like it.  I feel stressed.  I feel like something has been taken from me--something tasty, as well as something I have a sense of joy in the creating.

Today, after fulfilling my work-away-from-home duties at the horse farm at one p.m., I decided I was going to cook.  Cook because I want to.  And boy, have I cooked!  A batch of granola, the first I've made to eat myself instead of sell at the market, since June began.  Two loaves of bread, because it's time to bake my weekly bread for the family.  Two loaves of french bread also, because I want some garlic bread with the dinner I have planned for tonight.  (One loaf will be for with dinner today, the second will go in the freezer for accompanying a future lasagna.)

Not started yet, but soon to begin, spaghetti for dinner.  With homemade sauce.  Using tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil and oregano from the garden.  Sauce that takes quite a bit longer to make than the few minutes of heating sauce from a jar requires.  Sauce that will be not just tastier, not just free of suspicious sounding ingredients, but sauce that will bring contentment and the satisfaction of doing what I want to do.  Cooking because I want to.

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