Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Losing my passion for cooking

My newest column on The Bargain Hunter:  

I’ve reached the end of my cooking skills, folks. I humbly submit to you my resignation from the kitchen. I’ve got loads of recipes pinned to within an inch of their lives on Pinterest, my favorite cookbooks claim a space on my kitchen shelf, and my brain – oh my brain – used to think up great things to eat. 

No more. I think my food switch has turned off and I don’t know how to turn it on again. This is not good news for those that live in my home. 

When the kids were small and I was a stay-at-home mom (in my heart I still am) my refrigerator was stocked with easy to make foods. Casseroles, hearty and rich, found their way to my dinner table several times a week. Soups like potato and ham, broccoli, and even chili (which is not a family fave) with cornbread were served. I tried new recipes and honed the ones that everyone liked and the ones that were not so likable. I had a great little repertoire going on that had new ones inserted every now and then for good measure and to mix it up. Marinated meats were put in juicy containers and pulled out to grill in the evening and along with a baked potato the meal was complete. 

Somewhere along the way the kids grew up, and along with their many outside the home activities, the supper table became a once a week type deal. It was a place to crash when we realized, “Hey, we’re all home tonight. Let’s sit at the table!” Glasses would clink merrily, mundane everyday details would be talked about, and the food would be plentiful and down the hatch. 

Things change over time, like kids moving away, going to college, and getting jobs. I’m down to one child in his last year of school and I should be cooking everything he likes plus more. Instead, I’m drowning in my own cooking foibles, unable to even muster the strength to pull out a tried and true recipe and give it a whirl. My son just laughs and says, “Mom, you’re trying to starve me!” My husband laughs as well and says, “Just fry me an egg with potatoes and I’m good.” This is not me, though, this is not who I am. Aside from cooking the occasional Mexican meal (which I can do in my sleep) I’m in a rut and can’t see my way out of it. 

I’m thinking that I’m mourning the loss of being important in the kitchen. I work part time and when I come home I can’t think past making coffee and sitting down in a cushy chair. When I’m home on my days off I try to make something good to make up for the other days that I didn’t do such a good job. It’s a constant struggle and to you working moms that have little kids I commend you for being able to get supper on the table. 

As for me, I need to break out of this funk and get back to myself. Maybe I need a change of scenery in my kitchen. Trying some new ingredients or a fancy recipe I never would have tried before is the key. I should re-arrange and clean out my spice cabinet, and I should finally try cooking with asparagus or some other green vegetable the kids would never touch. When the last child is gone in six months or so, I will be left with a yawning space that was once filled with laughter. 

I do look forward to filling this space with what my husband and I have always wanted to try in the food world. I should break open a bottle of wine to sip while I cook, turn up the music, and pull some shrimp and scallops from the fridge to sear in butter and garlic. Along with a nice pasta or rice plus greens, a new way of cooking will be born. Transitioning from a big family to cooking for two - I think that is what’s troubling me. I am going from, “Mom, mom I’m hungry!” to a more richly slow, yet yummy way of cooking. No more huge casseroles filled with mac and cheese or the filling hamburger potato casserole with carrots my kids loved so much. No more Kool-Aid in the fridge and gummi snacks in the pantry – these will be replaced with things that we love. I will no longer have to hide the fancy cookies I like to dip in my coffee, and my husband’s favorite things will take precedence in the pantry as well. I will have lots of years of that – having my pantry just so. I’m in a funk now, but it’s time to pull myself out of it and cook for my son what he loves before he’s gone. Because when he’s gone I will wish I could hear his voice in the kitchen yelling, “What’s for supper, mom!” And those are moments, even though you move forward and enjoy the new ones, that you can never have back.so true : sometimes i really don't feel like cooking...kids can be so ungreatful


Leslie Limon said...

I think it's time for you to embark on a new kitchen adventure. Maybe master a new cuisine, like French, Italian, or Thai. Or take a cooking class with your hubby. Or start a food blog dedicated to helping you find that passion you once felt for cooking.

mkh said...

Leslie, I wish I had time! Maybe the food blog is a good idea. I'm thinking once the last kid is out the door this summer everything will break loose. I will cry, then I will cook! Ahh!