I have attempted to schedule two separate cooking classes at two family-owned grocery chain cooking schools in the past two months. The first time the class was cancelled and the second time the class was sold out. I had one tiny moment of panic as I thought about my January 3 deadline to complete all the items on the 40/40 list, and then I thought about Nicole's kitchen.
I have spent a lot of time with my friend in her kitchen over the past year, and what I realized is that I have learned so much from watching her ably and joyfully create healthy, simple meals for her family of six without great distress or overwhelm. My daughter has eaten with her children and come home and said, “I don't mean to hurt your feelings, Mom, but I love eating Aunt Nicole's food. She's a good cooker.”
Being mentored by Nicole has taught me more than I could ever learn in a three-hour class with a $45 registration fee, and so since I am the creator and keeper of the list, I'm counting #30 completed with revisions. It's not how I envisioned crossing this item off my list, but I see now that the main objectives—to feel more confident and more skilled—have been achieved gradually over the course of the year.
Cadence is absolutely right. Nicole is a wonderful cook. Being in her presence in her cozy kitchen has been healing for me. I have experienced peace and gained confidence that I could be a good "cooker" in my own kitchen just by spending time in hers.
I spent Thanksgiving afternoon being her sous chef and head dish washer. I think of that afternoon with pure joy. I asked questions as the afternoon ticked by and as she worked her way through her menu.
This decision also marks an improvement in my ability to not always follow the arbitrary rules I set up for myself, which might be the greater lesson or accomplishment to come out of this item.
I have loved spending time in kitchens this year. They don't feel so foreign anymore. I'm comfortable in my kitchen in a way I've never been. I have a much more playful, adventuresome attitude and that has been refreshing and reassuring to experience. I have goofed up some recipes in this year too, and I have not loathed myself the way I have in the past. I've done what I could in the moment to improve the mistake and reminded myself it's okay if the food wasn't salvageable. Progress, I tell you, progress.
This new-found confidence and joy has opened up the opportunity for me to welcome four college students into my home and my kitchen. Just the other night, I baked an egg casserole (and tweaked it to be vegetarian-friendly all on my own), made a cranberry side dish, and served toast, juice, and tea for these sweet students. I accomplished that on two days notice, under the weather with a cold, and working full-time. My ability to plan ahead and choose recipes that I know I can handle in varying degrees of difficulty and time constraints is a skill I have honed. Our guests had positive things to say about the food, and I experienced the joy of expressing my love and affection through a prepared meal. I have come so far.
|Christmas dinner & decorating with "my kids."|
It makes me think of the quote from Glinda in the Wizard of Oz, “You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.”
I had to stop telling myself what I couldn't do, allow space to make mistakes, and breathe in the possibility that preparing food could become a source of comfort, peace, and joy. My confidence building was helped along by the 40/40 items to bake bread pudding and make pie crust from scratch.
I have identified two areas in cooking that I'd like to learn more about: how to grill and and how to bake fish. If I can find a course, I'll consider signing up for one of those, but I'll also just keep asking questions and trying to learn on my own and with the help of my beloved cooking friends.