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Looking through a pyrex baking dish as a symbolic gesture

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child

I was never much of a cook. I am probably not much better even years later, but I have learned to practice this craft and appreciate the result of my efforts.

Ok, I do enjoy eating.

My taste buds have evolved over the years from my days of microwave dependency. Eating out of a box, can, or anything I could throw on a tortilla and nuke for 30 seconds eventually lost its appeal, but my interest in cooking was still pretty limited. I didn’t find any inspiration in the kitchen—especially since it was just cooking for one.

I never thought I needed to learn to cook for myself. It was just something I imagined doing out of necessity—because I would have a family to feed. I also grew up with the image of cooking being a “chore,” because I had a mother who didn’t much care to be in the kitchen.

I eventually began a relationship with someone who was a natural in front of the stove. Home-cooked meals with fresh whole foods became a regular ritual rather than a holiday event. I actually began to see the enjoyment in planning and preparing a meal.

Once I discovered I could actually make more than just mashed potatoes for the family Thanksgiving dinner, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Cooking took on a whole new meaning for me, and the more dishes I sampled, the more I wanted to dive in and experiment myself. It was both frustrating and satisfying for me. I made a lot of mistakes but still I plowed through. What could I try next? What could I “reinvent,” and so on. This became my inspiration, and I learned that the dishes I prepared reflected my own creativity.

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”― Craig Claiborne

Cooking is trial and error but it’s also about practice and timing. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone at times and being willing to try something new and different even at the price of an overcooked meal or forgotten ingredient. I enjoy the challenges and appreciate the times when it feels easy and relaxing.

I will always be a student in the kitchen, but I don’t feel as awkward as I used to. There are still many recipes that feel too daunting to attempt. I confess that I still nervously walk past the spring load pans at Bed Bath and Beyond, but when I muster enough courage, I will add one to my kitchen and attempt that cheesecake!

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ― Laurie Colwin

How do you find your inspiration in the kitchen?

 

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