Pleasure in the Kitchen

A lot of women now have full time jobs and don’t have time or don’t want to spend their evenings in the kitchen cooking dinner. And with kids and all their activities, families spend a lot of evenings at events. And then there is the group I fall into, partially. Those women that are retired and have “empty nests”. They have spent a lot of years in the kitchen cooking for their families, and now want to ease back just cooking for two, or however many are left in the house. I really don’t feel like that because I  love cooking and even though I am retired, I still enjoy being in the kitchen. I guess that is where all three of my daughters set their love of cooking and have made it their careers. Now I will tell you why I love and get so much pleasure from being in the kitchen.

My Mom and both grandmothers were excellent cooks.  And I was in the kitchen at an early age. The first thing that I learned in the kitchen was how to make brownies. Surprise, surprise! I guess this is where my obsession with brownies came from. My Mom’s fault!

In my years of cooking I have cooked for my family of five and made tons of cinnamon rolls and Red Velvet Cakes for my friends. I then progressed to catering in White Hall with my sister. After a couple of full time

jobs, I ventured into a full blown catering business in Jacksonville, known as the Country Gourmet. I was always on the search for new recipes to WOW my clients and came up with some wonderful dishes. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people in this endeavor. I got into the “tea party” scene.  The ladies in these different groups, would meet for a number of different reasons and ended the afternoon with tea and tea sandwiches and sweets. To learn even more, I  took some culinary classes at LincolnLand and of course watched the Food Network shows. All very educational.

So you can see my cooking experiences are quite varied. I could go on and on but I won’t. But these experiences led me to my love of preparing food, good presentations – you eat with your eyes first – and I enjoyed the complements that came my way and enjoyed seeing the pleasure on peoples faces.

As I work in the kitchen I really try to “get into it”. While I’m slicing, dicing, mincing or tearing greens, I am thinking about my finished dish. For example, some recipes call for chopped onions and some call for diced onions. Big difference in the finished dish. Your time put in, helps you to learn how certain vegetables and proteins are affected by the seasonings you use, the time you cook them and also how to “fix” a mistake. Some cannot be

fixed but as you gain experience you can learn how to “manage” the mistake.

I think cooking is an Art and all the really good cooks have a compassion comparable to other artists.  I also think cooking in the moment is as nourishing as the food itself. I really don’t understand anyone saying they can’t cook. If you can read a cookbook you can cook. You may not like to cook but if you get into it you will understand what I mean. You don’t know what you are missing. The professional culinary scene has mostly male chefs.  I don’t know how that happened. The woman was the usually the main cook, but that scene is changing. In fact, my youngest is again on the James Beard semi-finalist list of “best chef of the Southwest”. These lists are seeing more and more women. The  James Beard awards are equal to the Oscars in the show biz world. Sorry for bragging, but I am a proud Mother!

Next time you need to get in the kitchen, do so with the attitude of an artist, your mind concentrating on how you feel with each step and how you feel when you present the final product. It can be exhilarating and very pleasurable!

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