The rapidly-approaching holidays, not to mention all the running, training and racing that so many people have recently taken part in, tend to bring everyone’s attention to a subject very dear to my heart: FOOD.
I love to cook. My favorite quote from “The Wind in the Willows” goes something like, “There is no greater joy in life than simply messing about on a boat.” Well, I would slightly modify that to: “There is no greater joy in life than simply messing about in a kitchen.”
Now don’t go getting your running shoe laces in a twist; I get plenty of joy from running. But that’s the thing: I get joy from running. No one around me really benefits from my scampering around on pavement or trails. True, as with most other runners, I’m a more pleasant person to know when I can run regularly, but tangible benefits? Nope. You can’t slide a PR off a baking sheet and give it to someone who’s having a bad day.
With food it’s different. Food I can share with people as nourishment, or at least a treat. Unlike anything I try to share that’s running-related, food doesn’t require anyone to get up early and brave the elements on a weekend morning.
Whenever I feel like it, I shuffle around my little kitchen, barefoot or sock-clad depending on whether the oven is cranked up, turn on my radio (I firmly believe in kitchen radios) and just…make stuff. Sometimes I lean on recipes, but you know those moments when you try to satisfy multiple simultaneous cravings? They happen a LOT in my kitchen. Even more often, I’m frankly just trying to turn the random ingredients on hand into something resembling an actual meal. I chop, I mix…
And cross my fingers.
Lots of single people don’t like to cook because it’s “just them.” I don’t mind cooking for just me. I’ll eat almost anything, even a not-so-successful experiment, and I’m A-OK with scarfing leftovers, which I almost always have. Let’s just say I tend to use liberal quantities of everything. Such is the peril of cooking right after a run, when my stomach says “Yes. The whole box of pasta. Do it.”
But I do get the occasional dinner guest(s), which makes me absurdly happy – assuming that my messing about has resulted in something edible. If not, a little sleight of hand and, oooh, look over here! Dessert! Which brings me to my next point: BAKING.
My cast-iron skillet and two pie pans are among my most prized possessions. The skillet I found at a flea market for $10; the pie pans I got from my mom after years of loving use (the woman’s pie crusts are perfection). These kitchen toys have borne some of my favorite creations: skillet cornbread, skillet pizza, and a multitude of sweet and savory pies. Some delicious; some hastily determined For My Stomach Only. After a requisite “quality check” (don’t say you don’t do it!), if the item passes, I cut a slice, or wrap in foil, and – the best part – share! I give food to friends, family, and co-workers as something they can touch, taste, smell, and [hopefully] enjoy.
My food says, “You may not always see me at my best or happiest, but here is what happens when I am, and I want you to have it.”