I’m not the world’s best cook. I don’t cook every day, and you’ll probably never find any of those shiny, spotless, professional-looking food photos here.
But I love to play in the kitchen. Like writing, it’s a chance to get creative and combine pieces to form one (hopefully good) whole. On top of that, food is my unofficial love language. If I’m happy for someone, trying to cheer them up, or just thinking about them, my favorite thing to do is make them food.
I can trace this to two root causes. First, my mom is a terrific cook. Growing up, I regularly saw her cruising effortlessly around our kitchen, whipping up delicious meals like she was born with a spatula in her hand. You can’t live in an environment like that without at least a few of those genes landing on you.
Secondly, my running habit. I’m hungry a LOT, which yields two options: 1) Dine out, which is fun, but gets costly; or 2) Feed myself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown increasingly appreciative of having money in my bank account. Plus, when I cook at home, I can be barefoot, or in sweaty running clothes, or in pajamas, listening to whatever music I want, while an adorable puppy stares at me. Case closed.
Most of my cooking happens at the end of the day, after work and a run. By this time, I am FAMISHED, and this leads to dinners best described as “chuck a protein, veggies, and a starch towards the stove/oven and pray for the best.” It’s exciting.
But! Then there’s the other kind of cooking.
This is the kind that I really like: where I can take my time, where I’m not starving, where I might even (!) peruse cookbooks and use a recipe.
On New Year’s Eve, I got off work, went for my run, and came home itching to make a pie. Celebratory baking is the best kind, and I had two reasons to celebrate: New Year’s Eve, and Robin Hood’s return from a spectacularly successful hunting trip (two deer and a Barbary sheep!).
I decided to make an apple pie. I’m still looking for a rock-solid apple pie recipe; for this go-around, I tried Matt Pelton’s “All-American Apple Pie” from his book Dutch Oven Pies. I didn’t use a Dutch oven and it didn’t seem to matter.
Shuffling around the kitchen, bits of dough clinging to my hands, I fell into the comfortable rhythm that is making a pie. I snacked on the apple peels. I slowly, carefully overmeasured the cinnamon. Because I ALWAYS overmeasure the cinnamon. Doesn’t everyone?
And the result? A good pie. With a couple of minor tweaks, it might just become my go-to apple pie recipe. And Robin Hood was appreciative.
The kitchen called to me again on Sunday morning. I slept in and considered Golden Pride’s drive-through, but then I thought, “No! We’ve got pancake mix; we’ve got eggs. It’s go time.”
Breakfast rhythm is different from pie-making rhythm, but it’s still lovely. Sipping – oh, who are we kidding? GULPING – coffee as I mixed the batter. Standing in a patch of morning sunlight. Gently, watchfully, proudly producing my first perfect over-easy eggs!
This is bliss.