Passages – Cooking

Source: clipartpanda.com

Source: clipartpanda.com

Holy cow batman! What’s that smell?

This past weekend I cooked up a storm. There was soup and chili and some items that make cooking easier like sautéed onions and mushrooms to freeze then pop in Marsala sauce.

There was a time long, long ago (almost in a different galaxy) that I loved cooking. I loved the creativity. I loved the smells and the ingredients. I loved pulling together a wonderful meal that looked good and tasted better.

Not so much anymore.

This is one of those things my mother said would happen.

Did your mother tell you about how things change? Did you pooh-pooh it and say that wasn’t going to happen to you? And did it? I know she’d love to be here to say “I told you so!” (I wish she was here to tell me so.)

She said stuff like there would come a day when you didn’t want to shop (heaven forbid!). Or watching a movie on a DVD (it was VHS back then) was just as good as going to the theatre (no way!).

I was into the excitement of being there. Feeling the energy! People! Places! (Where did that go?)

Back to food – My mom was a great cook but as she got older she didn’t have the desire (or perhaps the energy) to cook. Blame it on living alone or not having the right ingredients on hand, but she rarely made some of her great dishes.

She said it would happen.

My food tastes have changed in many ways. I like simple. I rarely eat a dessert after a meal (I like a nice treat in the middle of the afternoon though).

I’m always on the lookout for techniques that allow the flavors to sparkle. (Yes, I know a good wine will do that – the wine goes into the cook, not the pot!)

I could tell how much I have changed as I looked through my recipe collection.

Some were so alien compared to what I cook now. I trashed about a third of the recipes I had. Too complicated, too many “special” ingredients, too rich – there were lots of reasons. There was also the “what was I thinking” moment. Did we really put condensed soup in a lot of stuff?

Some were purported to be quick but weren’t. I tried a “spaghetti in one pot” recipe. I like it better when the pasta is cooked separately. Less gummy.

One thing stuck out though. Most of what I cook now I do from my head. I like certain combinations of ingredients that always work and certain techniques.

Sautéed onions and garlic bring instant compliments from the beloved husband just for the smell. Fresh basil in the kitchen makes everyone smile. (You don’t even have to cook with it. Just pop it on the counter and you’re a hero!) Roasted veggies! You can’t go wrong with that.

Keeping the food simple and fresh works with a touch of butter at the end.

Deep down I fear I’m growing up. Ack! Mom would be so proud.

 

48 thoughts on “Passages – Cooking

  1. Mom worked and didn’t like cooking. I think she had 5-7 menus and we pretty much had the same meaIs in rotation. I learned to cook in college where it was our cheap entertainment. Still have that cookbook from college: Fanny Farmer – with a few old cutout recipes from Biscuit boxes. Mostly we grill out. Easy and quick cleanup.

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  2. I just did the same thing with a big box of recipes, Kate! I had so many that I’d held on to for years, and I couldn’t believe how easily I just tossed them out! But I realized I don’t eat “that way” any more, and whether it’s energy or just being more frugal with my time, it all comes to the same thing, I prefer simple meals, too. My mom never did cook much, so she hasn’t given much advice on this subject! I really do think that as we get older we’re just a lot more practical! Maybe that translates as a little boring at times, but I’m fine with that. 🙂

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    • Boring is good. We went out to a restaurant last night and I got the same thing I’ve had for the last 6 visits. I keep saying I would like to try something different but I never do. Now that is boring!

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  3. I could throw all my old recipes away and hardly miss them. I don’t know when was the last time I looked at them. I have a couple of cookbooks I’ve only used once or twice. If I need a new recipe now, I google it.

    The acupuncturist told me to eat cooked pears. (I’m lacking in “yang,” she says.) So I found a few poached pear recipes and took a little advice from each. The pears turned out good, but I shed a tear for the whole bottle of late harvest Riesling I used to make 8 pears for a party at my sister’s house. (I tasted it first, and it was yummy.)

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    • I used to collect cookbooks. You know that can get out of hand. I gave most of them away years ago keeping just a few that I like. I’m like you though. When I want a recipe I google it rather than go through books.

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    • It does. A few years ago I threw out a (large) box of saved recipes “to try” which of course I never tried. I started to go through them and couldn’t believe the weird ones I had cut out. I threw the whole box out and had no regrets! Back in the old days I would cut out something if I thought it would fit for a specific occasion. Then the occasion came and I had no memory of it and made something else. Today I rarely cut out anything. I am always on the lookout for techniques and ingredient combinations but I don’t need the whole recipe for that.

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  4. So strange how our tastes and interests change as we age. I hope I never lose my desire for sweets but I wouldn’t be surprised. Your words were right in the money.

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  5. I’ve become a really lazy cook. I had high hopes when my husband took cooking classes that he’d become the family chef. Alas, the class sucked the interest and creativity right out of him. I tend towards healthy stir frys and simple meals put together with the least amount of muss and fuss. Oh, and take out pizza.

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    • We cook very similarly. I like a stir fry because it’s one pan and you have it all starch, veggie, protein. You can make it taste Italian style or Asian or Mexican or anything else just by your ingredients. Love pizza. It’s my favorite food group.

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  6. It’s just me and the cats so I don’t cook real meals often. When I make an actual meal I share with neighbors. My mother was an awful cook so learning to cook was not an option…learn or go hungry.

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    • My husband doesn’t eat sweets so if I bake I have to give half of it away. Sometimes I get hungry for something like my mother’s chocolate cake but one piece is all I need. You have lucky neighbors!

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  7. I must admit that my cooking has become simpler and healthier over time. I cook mostly fresh – rather than freezing for later. Roasted veggies are one of my favorites too! 🍴

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  8. I used to cook all the time. I cooked in high school because my Mom worked and I became the dinner cooker. I cooked until 2007 and then CH retired and now he does most of the cooking. He is a very good cook and I enjoy what he cooks. On nights he doesn’t cook, we eat Lean Cuisines, gas station pizza(we live in the country and no pizza place, no delivery)and get fried chicken from our small grocery store up the road… best chicken ever! Also I am a homebody. And yes, my Mom was right about almost ALL she told me!

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    • I did a lot of cooking. My dad died when I was young and my mother worked. I started dinner and during the summer, I made dinner a lot of the time. I enjoyed it. My husband grills rather than cooks. We grill about 9 months out of the year (more weather permitting) so I get a lot of breaks. We have delivery pizza and our local grocery store has fabulous rotisserie chicken and their deep fried is good too. Today is warm so it’s chops on the grill! Wahoo!

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  9. Even the best cooks will say that when the ingredients are fresh, you don’t need to get all crazy with sauces. Or maybe Andy just tells me that so he can avoid a stirring a béchamel.

    I find that I like meat less as I get older. I used to love a filet mignon, but now? I’d rather have pan fried tofu or pasta. Andy would still rather have meat. We might wind up with separate dinners soon!

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    • That’s how my husband and I are. I could be a (mostly) vegetarian with the occasional need for a burger or rotisserie chicken. When we first got together I’d cook 3 chicken breasts. He had 2 and I had 1. Now I cook one and slice it for both of us. It works. I could wean off but he, probably not.

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      • Yeah, I’ve heard that once you get to middle age, you’re supposed to cut way back on the meat, but then in your 70s, you need the protein again. My grandmother seemed to be ailing fast, but once they put protein back in her diet, she felt so much better. So many rules to remember!

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        • A lot of older people, especially the ones who live alone, don’t have a great diet. It’s no fun cooking for one and that bag of chips can make you full. If I lived by myself I’d probably live on pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. I’ll remember to slip a piece of ham in my sandwich and put something on my pizza.

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  10. Yes! Your Mom was so right. The longer I live the less I like to cook and the simpler the recipes get. I have discovered the power of saute-ing onions and peppers too, and Bill thinks I am a gourmet chef for just the scents. But I am working toward inventing candle scent-sticks that smell the same to whet the appetite and then we can “go out to eat.”

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  11. My mom’s a wonderful cook, I’m mediocre. She would always tell me I needed to put more love into my cooking. Like you, I just add more onions and garlic and everybody’s happy. 🙂 We had Bill’s family over on Sunday. We made vegetarian chili in the crock pot, escarole and beans and butternut squash soup. The hardest part was waiting an hour for the squash to cook and scooping it out to blend. I love the crock pot during the winter, hope that love translates into my meals!

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  12. Mom forgot to tell me! With our busy schedules I feel really great if I create a couple of casseroles and soup to get us thru the work week. I find my work for the day stymied until I figure out what to make for supper since that’s the only meal we MIGHT eat together. When we eat separately …. we both heat leftovers. I’m so fortunate to have a spouse who eats to live and doesn’t live to eat.

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  13. I’m the same way about cooking now. I used to make the most complicated recipes and love it. But now, the crockpot and I are good friends. My mother said the same things as yours. Funny how they knew what was what, isn’t it?

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    • I restrain myself from telling any young person that whatever they think matters now, doesn’t. I didn’t listen and they won’t either. Our outdoor grill is a best friend too because the beloved husband does the cooking. I make the sides. I love things where you can cook a big batch, freeze it and then have workless meals.

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