It is a funny thing that the kitchen is most popular room in the house. All the pots and pans and water and heat giving all the household the process and space for preparation of food and chores of cleaning up, yet it can be a lonely place.
The kitchen is the meeting room, where you post the drawings of the children, put up the grocery list, calendars, with the television running and cook books stacked in corners, the microwave beep and hustle and bustle of preparing the next meal.
We seem to be consumed by the making of food spending hours cutting and slicing and sorting and shopping for ingredients to fill our bellies, then starting all over again.
Stores are filled with appliances to make the process easier and faster and cleaner with the latest additions of timers and ice makers without a thought of what we really enjoy about being in the kitchen.
Yes, the preparation of food, if done correctly and properly can be an exciting experience with the reward of a wonderful tasting meal, but is that all?
Over the summer, I realized it was too hot to cook, not that I was all that adventurous into the cuisine.
My mother was not a great chef but she fed her boys every night. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cheese and pickles sandwiches, dry scrambled eggs, milk, peanut butter (no jelly) sandwiches, and for a treat the hidden M&Ms were found, but we never starved.
We ate out occasionally, probably more than I remember due to my father’s connections with the food industry, with Chicken in the Rough, and S&K cafeteria, and Duson’s Steak House. Mostly ordered beef and potatoes that was the custom of the time. Big plates of fried chicken covered in honey and lots of biscuits or giant slices of roast beef or fried steak followed by huge desserts of chocolate pie was the norm.
But over the years, the taste buds change.
The routine of going to the grocery, selecting the products, and preparing the meal has not changed much, but what is wanted has.
Over the years, I’ve been exposed to many techniques of cooking. Grilling, baking, deep-fry, steamed, and stir-fry have all been experimented with outstanding results.
Now remember I grew up with a wealth of substance available to me. I did not think twice about pulling a steak out of the freezer, dropping it into an iron skillet and making a sandwich covered in mustard.
And as my taste buds matured, I found certain flavors I enjoyed and others I knew I should appreciate.
So the cool months come on and I realize this is the season to cook, since the summer was all sandwiches or chicken tenders and salads.
Last year I went through all the foods I thought I liked including flank steak (which I made in college as a special meal), peanut butter cookies, a variety of pizzas, stuffed potatoes, slow-cooked chili and stew, tacos, and even noodle dishes.
The conclusion was the preparation was fun, but the clean up was too much. Plus if you cook a huge pot of “stuff” you have to eat it for several days.
As the season turns, I am preparing myself for a new adventure into the realm of cooking. I’m not so interested in the spices, for after watching several cooking shows I know what they use and what I like.
I’m not so interested in following a cookbook or recipe because I can judge the intensity of the flavor and as any good cook will tell you, continue to taste through the process.
The fun of cooking is to share the experience with another and get a review on the final product.
If I cook alone during the cold and raining nights, I will reward myself with a glass of wine and toast my success.