Monday, August 1, 2011

I am actually enjoying COOKING!!

So, back as a young newlywed, I thought that I would be a good wife and start cooking for my husband. The first night he tried my cooking and only had 1 helping and then made himself some toast. I thought that was interesting but didn't really think much of it. Then, the second time I made a meal, he said that he wasn't very hungry and that he just wanted something light, like toast. I was a bit annoyed, because I didn't like to cook, but I did what I thought was expected of me, right? Little home-makery kind of cleaning and cooking and being pleasant. Well, cleaning I enjoy as a sort of therapy for me to release negative energy, and think. By the time I have worked the issues of anger I was able to enjoy great outcome...cleanliness. The being "pleasant" kind of thing was hit and miss depending upon how I felt about my life that day;) And finally, the COOKING. UGH...the cooking:/ I LOVE to EAT, so naturally I should at least LIKE to cook...right?? WRONG!! As my mother used to say, "Everything tastes better when someone else has made it!...I don't know why, but I just don't enjoy eating meals I make." She didn't say this all of the time, but she did say it enough that I remembered those things and subconsciously they stuck with me. Later in life, I discovered that I had adopted those negative thoughts as my own kinds of truths.

So, anyways, young for the husband. IMAGINE my FRUSTRATION, and FURY, when I pushed myself to do something that I didn't really like to do, like COOK, trying to make a meal from what was in our cupboards, with a toddler vying for my attention during the whole process, not getting the timing right for the food to be done at the same time, etc. etc. to have my husband come home another time to tell me that he just wanted "toast" again for dinner. No, I didn't shove his plate of food in his face, like I wanted, I kept my composure and asked him, "What's really going on here? I know that you are hungrier for more than just toast." (BTW...the man has a freakishly large stomach that is hidden inside his slender frame, so I knew something was up.) He then, told me how my cooking was different than what he was used to. Meals from a box were not appetizing to him. That I didn't use any or enough herbs and spices when I cooked, namely garlic and onions. OK....I WAS LIVID!! How dare you say that a meal in a box isn't tasty?? The little glove guy is totally a legit chef that knows his ground beef!! And who needs extra herbs and spices when they all come packaged for you in the BOX!! SO, I said, "Fine. You don't like the way I cook, then YOU cook!" And cook he did! I didn't realize that my husband could make such delicious meals and it was a stress reliever for him to boot!! I felt like I had won the jackpot with this one!:) I had always wanted a personal chef and here I had unwittingly married one!!! YAY for ME!!

Anyways, my chef started getting more and more slack over the years. Something about busy with his day job, kind of crap. I pitched in every now and again with my signature chicken casserole that my roommate taught me in college and other easy ones, like taco salad, and cheese toast/tomato soup. But I didn't have enough patience in me to try and cook consistently every night. So, there I was hungry in the kitchen and it's almost dinner time, and I don't want to do another cereal night for the 3rd night in a row with my kids. I made the decision to cook a decent meal. I think all they got out of me that night was tomatoes and avocado on toast:/ My kids are great and they can sense my frustration with cooking. They would always tell me how much they appreciate the meals that I made for them, and ALWAYS let me know how good it tastes even if I am barely choking it down myself. Already not liking this chore, and being marred from past events in my life, learning to enjoy cooking has been an uphill battle for me. I decided that I need to tackle this obstacle in my life, and charge this cooking issue of mine, head on. I wanted to expand my knowledge and usage of herbs and spices, so I watched the cooking show on PBS and liked the eggplant parmesean that they showcased. I tried out the recipe and LOVED it! SUCCESS!! YAY!! I made it so much, just like my other dishes that I got sick of it. This was 6 years ago.

I have been going back and forth with this cooking thing for years now. It has only been until this summer recently that I have embraced my inner chef and ACTUALLY liked...and even LOVED my own cooking!! The first thing, I knew I had to do was change my kitchen into a room that I wanted to be in. A magical kitchen that would help me feel free to create delicious dishes for my family and enjoy the art of it all! So, the color of my kitchen walls changed from a vibrant yellow to a soft cafe cream and I changed my curtains to white ones. With that new color scheme, my kitchen is looking and feeling more like my ideal kitchen!

My first honest to goodness success, was when my Dad was visiting and I made Salmon for him, my sister (who doesn't like Salmon except for mine because I drench it in other flavors it doesn't have the strong salmonly taste) and the other adults! I had made the dish many, many times before, BUT this was my BEST salmon, by far!!! It was close to perfection. Followed up with the BEST No-Bake cookies my Dad and Sister EVER had! I thanked for being so kind but I let them know that they were over complimenting my cooking. I had liked the good feedback but I was still holding on to old doubt of my cooking ablities. When they told me that they weren't saying it to make me feel good but because it was, seriously, the best they've had, I actually started to believe what they were saying as truth. Surprised by the sincerity, I reassessed my cooking myself. I was hitting home-runs left and right. I shocked myself and actually enjoyed my cooking. It was THAT night that I realized that I had deemed myself a sub-par cook because of my young married cooking experience. And that I had held on to old negative thoughts, unknowingly passed down to me from my Mom about my own cooking. So, I stuffed those negative thoughts and labels into the trash, where they belong, and have been happy ever since not carrying around that garbage anymore.

I mentioned to my Mom about how I felt like I wasn't a good cook and my Mom shot me a "what-are-you-talking-about" kind of look and said, " Honey. You have ALWAYS been a GREAT cook!" That simple comment meant the world to me!! It was tremendous to hear such a wonderful compliment from my Mom about something I have so insecure about for so many years. And with that compliment, any lingering doubt about my cooking was squashed!

I know that my girls look to me as an example of how to be a woman, and I take that responsibility in all its entirety. I want them to know how to cook wonderful things before they leave my home. I want them to have memories of fun times in the kitchen with me learning how to cook delicious meals. I want them to know how to keep their bodies well nourished now, so that when they are grown they know how to take care of themselves. I want them to know how to shop for good food. I want them to know what spices and herbs to keep as staples in their cupboard. I want cooking to be a fun and creative experience for them, always! Is that too much to ask??

My sister, Eileen, pointed out to me, that I might enjoy cooking more for my family, because I am cooking a lot healthier meals more consistently. We are eating more Primal. (I am going to start reading the Primal Blueprint book. I hear great things about it!) The main difference is having a gluten-free, and little-to-no-grain diet. I LOVE IT! And I think my Sister is right in her observation. Knowing that I am helping my family's bodies become healthier every meal I serve really makes me feel like I am doing a good job as a Mom!!

And this is why I am actually enjoying cooking, folks! Thanks for reading!

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