Cooking is often a drudgery. It’s something to be endured and gotten over with quickly, just so that we have food on the table and as few as possible prep dishes to clean up. Yet, cooking and baking can be fun, playful, social, satisfying, and creative. Here are a few tips that have worked to keep me from treating cooking as yet another chore, akin to cleaning the bathroom.
- Use a new ingredient. My newest discovery is pancetta, for this awesome (yet simple!) spaghetti alla carbonara. It took me a while to track down pancetta, but did it ever just make this dish. Someday I’m going to buy a bunch of swiss chard or beet greens and actually do something with them (other than staring at them in a befuddled kind of way).
- Try a new process. Mince garlic by hand… er, knife. Whip heavy cream (or in the case of my daughter’s birthday cake, have your husband do it). Poach an egg. Blend together banana peanut butter milkshakes for breakfast.
- Use a new or rarely-used kitchen gadget. Pull out the gadgets that are gathering dust in the depths of your kitchen cabinets–the bread maker, the food processor, the ice cream maker, the slow cooker. And use them. So, hon, are we going to make homemade ice cream this summer?
- Make a convenience food from scratch. Make pasta. Pickle cucumbers. Can jam. My thing is bread making. I make all of our sandwich bread, bread sticks and Italian bread.
- Enjoy the sensory experiences of cooking. The smell of ginger and garlic, the sizzle of frying meat, the satiny-silk feel of spilled flour under your bare feet, the colors and shapes of produce, and of course, snagging a pinch of cookie dough or sipping a spoonful of soup. Go cook, and then do some freewriting to capture those experiences.
- Cook with children. Several weeks ago, Sir I. and Miss M. helped me make these yummy sweet potato dunplings. It took far longer than I’d anticipated, what with mixing up the filing, folding the wrappers, boiling and frying the dumplings. By the time we finished, we were so ravenous that we plunked ourselves down on a picnic blanket in the living room and ate hot sticky dumplings off the serving plate. It was great fun, down to the specially-shaped dumplings Sir I. had made.
And, just to whet your appetite, I’ll leave you with a picture of Miss M’s strawberry chocolate mousse birthday cake (yum yum!):
Have you discovered a delicious new dish recently?