Tuesday, March 30, 2010

cooking is love

a recent conversation with a coworker made me laugh out loud...and caused me to reflect on where i'm at in my life today. i'm going to share the story with you, even though it's not really my story to tell.

i tell you because it COULD be my story to tell...

i have to paraphrase... forgive me. you'll get the gist of it.

my coworker is in a rental car in a neighboring state, taking prospects to visit some of our clients. in the car, they were talking about casseroles and some of their favorite recipes. at one point in the conversation, one of the prospects commented, "twenty years ago, if you had told me that i'd be in a mini van in the middle of nowhere talking about my favorite casserole recipes, most of which include tater tots as the main ingredient, i would have killed myself."

i nearly peed my pants i laughed so hard. and then i thought: THAT WOMAN COULD BE ME. if you had told me15 years ago that today i'd be planning meals, cooking from scratch, and canning my own food, i'd have flipped you off and lit another cigarette. and then i would have stuffed some peanut butter cups into my mouth.

fast forward 15 years, 2 marriages and 2 kids later. i love being a mom. i love feeding my family. i never ever thought i'd be this ... domestic. but here i am. and although i work in an office all day long, i love being a homemaker, too.

my mom wasn't a fantastic cook, but she tried to feed us dinner every night, even after a long day at the office. i really took the family dinner hour for granted. in fact, most of the time, it was a major drag. my mom made horrible things like salmon loaf (omg. the horror) and creamed salmon with peas on toast. and brussels sprouts. yes, i realize this is borderline child abuse, but it has made me into the strong woman that i am today. and hell no, i don't eat salmon loaf. i have never made it, and i never will.

even as a kid, my sister and i loved to cook. i've always loved to read recipes, especially the ones that are on cake mixes, bottles of ketchup and sides of cereal boxes. and don't forget the ones inside the box of cream cheese. i love reading cook books and talking to people about recipes, and their favorite things to eat or make for their family. the way some people are passionate about cleaning or scrapbooking or whatever their vice is, that is how i feel about cooking.

cooks love to cook with with fresh ingredients. it's often about where the food came from. where do i have to go to buy what i need? where did it come from? how much salt is in a serving? how much fat? calories? yes, i read labels. and i've been shocked at what i read on some labels.

there is one major ingredient that is way too prominent in the food you buy at the store: sugar. that led me down the road to canning my own food...

over the past few years, i've started making my own jam. i still use sugar, but i can control how much sugar goes into it. and it's NOT high fructose corn syrup. it's sugar. and fresh fruit. jake is addicted to peanut butter (an addiction that is genetic. my dad has it, and i have it too.) and so we use lots of jam around these parts.

i also can my own chicken. i'm not super crazy (yet); it's not organic, free range chicken. but it's boneless, skinless white meat. very little salt. and water. if i'm going to use foods of convenience, i want to know where they came from and what is in them. last year, i bottled salsa, tomato soup, peaches and tomatillo salsa. ohhh... and i also did applesauce. i hated doing the applesauce and i never want to make it again. but i will if my kids decide they love it.

now i'm certainly not perfect. i love to eat a big mac every now and then. how sick is that? i love french fries. i love oreos. and ice cream. and pesto. chocolate cake. frozen pizza is a rare treat at our house. i'm not a total freak about letting my kids have sugar, candy, bleached flour, etc. it's just that we keep it to a minimum.

for me, cooking is a love story. my kids request special foods on their birthdays, on weekends, and even sometimes just for dinner. i yell too much, i lose my temper too quickly, i hate folding laundry, and i don't do mornings, but i make kick ass food almost every single day. that makes up for it, right?


Jessicathe said...

It took me years to make Tator Tot Casserole because of the stigma (I thought I was a better cook than that, lol) but it is one of the family's favorites. I'm like you, I actually plan with excitement what we'll be eating for dinners, and love shopping for the stuff and spending the time cooking it. And we need to talk Jam.

Connie Weiss said...

I'm not a fan of casseroles unless it came from The Pioneer Woman.

I'm so proud and jealous of you for all of the canning that you do. I'm too scared.

Anonymous said...

hell, it you would have told me you were going to be canning your own meat AND quit smoking FIVE years ago i don't think i would have believed you, but you would have flipped me off anyway and i'd still love you!