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What’s cooking

August 14, 2007

I highly recommend taking an evening after school or work to cook yourself a complete meal from scratch.  It is one of the most satisfying after-work activities I have found.  Come home from work, change into comfortable, around-the-house clothes, enjoy a snack, put on some mood music, and get cooking.  No TV.  No Internet.  No exceptions.

If you’re not a wiz in the kitchen, have a friend or family member recommend a few recipes for you; you might go wrong, but that’s part of the fun.  Some things will work, some won’t; think of it as a sort of experiment during which you add and subtract ingredients from the original recipe in order to suit your tastebuds.  Someone suggest a casserole with tuna but you don’t like fish?  Try chicken.  And while you’re at it, throw in your favorite vegetable to add some extra flavor and nutrients.  The greater the variety of foods you experiment with, the more you’ll learn about how to cook what, what to cook when, and what to cook it with. 

Recently, I’ve been having fun with Brazilian foods–or, more accurately, Brazilian methods of cooking food.  It’s amazing how many dishes you can concoct with a simple mixture of olive oil, garlic, and salt.  Cover the bottom of a pan with a thin layer of olive oil, sautee a teaspoonful of crushed garlic and salt, and add whatever food you like:  green beans, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, fish, chicken, or all of the above.  Cover.  Stir occasionally.  Wha-la!  Tonight I made (reheated, actually) a fish, tomato, and potato stew; rice; green beans; and plantains using this single, simple method (but in numerous pots, of course!). 

To me, there’s almost nothing more enjoyable than sitting down to a wholesome, home-cooked meal.  I could be by myself or with friends–it doesn’t matter.  Set the table, pour yourself a glass of wine, and relish and appreciate the ability to prepare your own food, one of life’s most basic necessities.  Don’t turn on the TV or check your email.  Simply sit, eat, and enjoy.  Let the pots and pans sit on the stove while you dine, but not in the back of your mind–they’ll be plenty of time to get to those later since you’ve decided that you like the peace and quiet so much that you’re not going to turn on the TV or your computer for the rest of the evening.  Instead, you’re going to clean up the kitchen, take a shower, curl up in your bathrobe, and pull out a good book–or maybe call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to for a while.

Then, when it’s time for bed, you’re going to lay down with a huge smile on your face and in your spirit, knowing that you’ve both nourished your body and your soul.

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