My house is clean, my desk clear. What, pray tell, would I do with myself today? Late yesterday I determined that I would do my house cleaning to preserve my weekend, after talking books for three whole hours with my girlfriend. That, in itself, is a feat. In bookclub we, rarely, talk about a book for an hour so to share thoughts and ideas for three is a treat; with my fave coffee.
As I shopped and ran errands this morning I found myself near a Starbucks. I had a mild headache, from lack of any caffeine and, much to my surprise; opted to head home. I never thought the day would come that I would NOT want a Starbucks coffee; but indeed it has. Why? Because I’ve discovered I can make a better coffee and tea right in my own kitchen.
That revelation is shocking in itself. There was a time where I could not go without my daily Starbucks dose. If you look in my cupboards I have one whole cupboard dedicated to seasonal tall Starbucks tumblers. I have a winter tumbler, one for Valentine’s day, another with a bunny, a summer tumbler which has since been replaced with one that says Maui from the Starbucks store there, leaves for fall. And of course, my stainless steel container that most people see me carting around. I have the cold containers that can hold a frappuccino, with or without a dome. I have a personalized picture tumbler that has seen better days; the pictures faded.
After reading four heavy reads: The Language of Flowers, The Fault in Our Stars, The Book Thief, and Me Before You I took a mental break and returned to Consider the Fork. I wasn’t sure why I had, originally, chosen to read this book but soon found myself following my hubby around the kitchen; reading aloud as he chopped, diced and measured spices. The “cooking fairy” was creating dinner and tea and I volunteered to make the rice. Arduous duty, the washing of Basmati rice, with a dash of oil and 1 tbsp of salt and three crushed cardamom pods. At the press of a button fluffy, fragrant rice would come to completion in 45 minutes. Oh, the joys of a rice cooker.
It is no secret that cooking is one of my least favorite things. I do not mind cooking if I have a menu or an occasion; but the normal day-to-day creation of meals is mentally taxing. Dave opens the fridge and sees endless possibilities; I open the fridge and wish for a personal chef. Our binder of recipes is daunting. The rule in our household is to always cook, as much as possible, from scratch. We don’t eat out often. I can’t recall the last time our family has actually eaten at a McDonalds although I do succumb to In N Out or Tommy’s once in a while. The only type of cans utilized in our house are for chick peas (if we’re lazy and don’t soak the dried ones) or tomato sauce/ tomato paste. We try to purchase food in its most basic form (grain, bean, fresh vegetable, fruit, protein) without a lot of processing or refining (I cheat with the kids’ lunches with potato chips and cookies much to his angst). Dave has been on this “kick” for almost two years after reading books such as: Fast Food Nation, and Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food, Inc. and Ultra-Metabolism. Needless to say, this makes cooking for me much more arduous.
One of the things I discovered several years ago, was the Slow Food Movement. It was soon after I read, Omnivore’s Dilemma in San Diego that our entire bookclub experienced grass fed beef and scoured local restaurants who believed in using: local, sustainable ingredients. The Slow Food movement began in Italy in 1989 and, as writer Bee Wilson coins in her book Consider the Fork, “…refers to methods of agriculture and ways of eating: its philosophy defends biodiversity against intensive farming and slow and sensuous meals as opposed to quickly grabbed bites. Slow Food goes along with a cult of the handmade and the homemade as against the machine-made.” It is a resurgence in the artisanal process of food and our household embraces this. But this makes the cooking process very slow.
It is interesting to learn the history of the appliances in our kitchen. As Dave chopped and diced I read about the origins of Cuisinart and how it completely revolutionized cooking. I was considering the teaspoon; its origins from England to stir the milk poured into tea. I have a fixation with tea and desire an English tea set; weirdly enough. I enjoy the whole tea drinking process; the dainty cups, the spoons, the scones and sandwiches and the formality of a tea room. I was gleaning the history of some of our most utilized appliances in our kitchen: our refrigerator, our Kitchen Aid stand mixer, our Cuisinart food processor as well as the origins of our favorite cooking stores: Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma. Dave is definitely a foodie and as the cooking fairy raided cupboards and our pantry, creating a mess; the aromas filled our home, slowly. I shadowed him with my Kindle, fork in hand, reciting paragraph upon paragraph of the tools we, now, take for granted. “Table utensils are above all cultural objects, carrying with them a view of what food is and how we should conduct ourselves in relation to it.” The fork is polite and symbolizes the West. As the author states, it is less violent than the knife but not as baby-ish as a spoon.
As the weather improves I yearn to put in our garden. I can vividly see the manicured rose hedges in my childhood home’s front yard, the chaotic wildflowers along the side of the house near my bedroom window. Both my parents, as well as Dave’s, had/have green thumbs and so we emulate them. There is nothing more gratifying that enjoying food grown from seed in the summertime as we sit in our backyard patio. I need to re-adjust my way of thinking and remember to take it slow.