I read cookbooks like most people read novels. In fact in the past few days, I have probably perused at least five cookbooks, not to mention multiple online recipes sources. So this morning, when I was rummaging through a cookbook that had been hidden back in the dark recesses of my kitchen cabinet, I realized this could mean only one thing. Julian, my culinary muse, wanted to play.
I must admit it has been quite a while since he and I had a tryst in the kitchen. With the start of football season, the thought of cooking has just been too daunting. It is much easier to open a can of soup or stop at Sonic than actually prepare my own food.
However, Julian can be quite persuasive, or it could be I can’t say no to his deep indigo eyes. (Yes, I know what color my muse's eyes are, doesn’t everyone?) Julian promised me a day spent with him in the kitchen will be both relaxing and enjoyable. Once I agreed to join him, we picked out a recipe and plodded off to the store for supplies. I was actually a bit excited about the proposition of using my kitchen for more than a place to toss the mail and feed the dog.
Let me interject here that if I wasn’t in a bad mood before I went to the store, I definitely was after I left the store. Since I am limited on shopping choices, I must spend my grocery shopping time at a certain discount superstore. To say that place puts my knickers in a twist is an understatement, but I digress. I shall save that rant for a later date.
However, I come home grouchy as a bear, haul in all the groceries, yell at the cat that decided to run outside for no good reason other than she is as old as dirt and thinks she can do whatever she wants. Then, before I can even start cooking I have to put the food away, step over the dog fifteen or so times (because she has to lay right where I walk), clean the kitchen, and give both the cat and the dog a snack so they will quit staring at me. So much for enjoyable.
With all that out of the way I can finally begin my relaxing Sunday of cooking. So, I chop carrots, celery and onions and prepare the stew meat. All the while Julian stands by supervising my chopping prowess and measuring to see if my “finely chopped” onions are indeed “finely chopped”. Once they pass his inspection, I throw it all in the stew pot, cover it with chicken broth and it's on its way to becoming dinner.
Next, Julian decides it would be a good idea to roast two hen. Why two you may ask? Simple. It’s as easy to roast two as it is one, and I have to admit the man...er...muse has a point. So, I wash and prepare two whole chickens, fill them with aromatics and plop them in the oven to roast while the stew is cooking, and at the present time, the house smells incredible.
Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy cooking, and I need Julian to remind. For me it is the sense of pride in accomplishment when I fix something I know my family will enjoy. Maybe it is my Southern upbringing, but I believe you can taste when food is made with love. It’s one of those magical things that has no quantifiable measurement. In my world, food equals love. So, if I ever cook for you, know it means I love you.
Julian was right. A day in the kitchen with him was enjoyable and relaxing. I can’t wait to try the stew tonight. Now...if I could just teach him to clean the kitchen.