Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I realized, just lately, that I find real comfort in being in the kitchen.  I'm not sure when this happened, but it feels like something's shifted: I love the process of cooking; prepping and organizing myself in this room of the house.  There was a time, like many people, when cooking food was an annoying step that was critical to eating food. Now I enjoy the cooking almost more than the eating.  Almost.

I find the more you cook, and the more you spend on food, and the greater your appreciation for it.  The thought of cooking something on a redhot burner seems so disrespectful now.  And, moreover, you come to realize the affect each step in the process has on the food; the taste, the texture, the outcome of it.  And if you take your time and treat each element with reverence, it doesn't have to be stressful or hard, only a pleasure, like spending time with a dear friend.

And I think I'm figuring out what kind of cook I am.  I like simple food.  Rustic.  Meat and potatoes.  I like it, for the most part, to taste like what it is.  I like three things on a plate, and I like it to photograph well.  I like few ingredients, a list of more than five or six seems superfluous.

I like fresh-cracked salt and pepper and chopped rosemary on a grilled-cheese sandwich.  I like ice in my white wine.  I hate olives but love olive oil.  Perfecting red wine reductions keeps me up at night and making pasta from scratch is on my bucket list.  I love butter.  I love baking, but only if the recipe yields more than 4 dozen cookies.  I like food like I like everything: worth the trouble and abundant.  I often make too much for fear of not enough.

I love stacks of plates, heaps of produce, and freshly-laundered napkins in neat piles on the counter, but hate the detritus of preparation, always cleaning as I go.  I put cream in a creamer for coffee service (except at the cottage) and I never eat off paper plates (except at the cottage).  Without wine, dinner cannot begin and without dessert, dinner is not finished.  I aim to eat my body weight in green beans annually.  Cheese is a food group.  So is gin.  I don't mind hulling berries but I hate husking corn.  I love ice cream.  Carrot is my favourite cake.  I like my yogurt-granola ratio to lean right, hard.  I love finding a loaf of Wonder bread at the cottage, nothing better with Smucker's jelly.  I love chips.  I hate how hot bagels get when you toast them.  I love rice and black beans, bland and comforting.  When I hold a piece of expensive meat in my hands, I feel grateful and alive.  I love cereal.  I hate mushrooms: the texture, not the taste.  I love steaming vegetables with broth instead of water.  I like transporting orange juice in a Mason Jar.  I need bacon like I need sunshine and oxygen.  There's nothing like that guttural "mmm" that hums in the back of your throat when you've eaten something so good.

Every moment of cooking and eating can be decadent and lovely.  Not just the grass-fed beef and the organic this and local that, but the easy stuff too.  I've learned the smell of toast when it's done, I can hear the water before it boils, the temperature of a pan when it's ready to sear something.  And I find such joy in these moments.

(Above: Delicious super-spicy turkey sausages from The Sausage King at St. Lawrence Market.)


  1. Those damn bagels ARE hot!! Haha.

    I completely share this love of food, not always the cooking, but definitely the eating. What a beautifully written tribute :)

  2. Good for you. Loving food is an honest simple love.

  3. Well said. Really well said.

  4. My name is Daniel, and I'm a fellow olive and mushroom hater, meat and potatos, bacon lover, and gin addict. I've been sober for 45 minutes.

  5. Hey everybody! Thank you.

    Daniel - that made me laugh. out. loud.
    I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and she asked me some crazy-talk about "average drinks per week". I was all like, "Um, it's been cottage season, does that change your question?" And then I was like, "Uhhh, it's sort of about to be red wine season, does that matter? . . . . . 15 per week, okay?"

    My name is Jason, and I'll be sober for the next 45 minutes.

  6. hahah! "I generally run 8 or 9 miles a day, floss daily and NEVER touch the hooch." what i tell Dr. Roth.

  7. rosemary on grilled cheese? steaming veggies with broth? i have so much to learn.

    i aspire to be half the domestic goddess you are.

  8. What a lovely post. I had a moment in my kitchen recently, maybe even an epiphany. Something about how all these things used to be in the ground, just covered in dirt (or in the case of the pork, on the ground rolling in dirt), and now they are a meal. But my 45-minute window of sobriety has passed, so that's all I recall.

    Love your blog, dig your tweets.

  9. ice in your white wine! oh, how i adore you.

  10. Okay, so it's been a while since I officially commented. But this one warranted it for me.

    Best thing you've written in a long time. Just saying.

  11. love these two photos of the hot dog!
    so simple.
    all your food posts look like they came from a restaurant!!
    you are so right. the more you make and prepare food for loved ones, the more you love it.

  12. Wow, such a nice response everybody!
    Thank you.

  13. I just discovered your blog and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading through all of your posts. Beautiful words you write, Jason!

    I agree with your observation - the more time and money we spend on food, the greater appreciation of it.


  14. How long did it take you to write that paragraph about your likes and dislikes? Sure, that was all about food but I think it's fair to say that crosses over into other things too. 30 rules? I read these things and immediately think I don't feel that certain about anything in my life. But I want to.