Sunday, January 11, 2009

All Clad

I had the first niggling feeling months ago. That uncomfortable sort of tingling sensation you get before a sneeze. You know something is on the way, you wait for it, but you’re not quite sure when it will arrive.

In my case it had to do with the idea of cooking. Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m generally not an accomplished cook. I’ve managed to raise two kids on a working knowledge of good Italian sauce, meats and pasta – but other than these ethnic staples I cannot braise a beef or poach a pear. The stories of my failures in the kitchen are legion and date back to my teens -- and I fully embrace these debacles. But lately I’ve had this FEELING that I wish I could enjoy cooking the way I enjoy reading or drawing or other things I do in my life.

For me, the first step was the awareness. Once I was consciously aware, things began to present themselves to me. It’s like noticing the color green on St. Patrick’s Day. You start to notice it everywhere.

So being aware of cooking, I started noticing cookbooks – and before long I came across two that were perfectly suited for me, and one in particular gave step-by-step instructions on really enjoying the materials you work with – in this case, the pots and pans. Now, THIS is a new concept to me, and I discussed it at length with my friend who happens to love cooking. Incredible. People actually love their pots and pans….can you imagine? These pans are special because they have superpowers. They DO special things – like caramelizing or evenly distributing heat.

So suddenly, I’m seeing cooking in a completely different way. I’m thinking about being “intentional” about what I am doing in this activity, rather than just throwing some stuff in a pot and tapping my toe until its done. (For those of you who love to cook, I KNOW you can’t relate but there must be someone out there like me who is shaking their head in agreement?.)

Anyway, my point today is that I’m learning to take each small thing I do and ask myself if I am doing it consciously and fully and in the best possible way I can – or if I am just marking time and getting it over with. Because to do that would be to trade away moments of one’s life for absolutely nothing at all.

I’ll let you know when my pots and pans arrive.


Hannah Banana said...

I am blessed to have a husband who naturally cooks without effort & loves it. Although I wish I had the knack for cooking exuisite food.
If you want a great cookbook, I recommend "Cook with Jamie", one of Jamie Oliver's books. He provides a lot of the basics in it with some wonderful recipes.

~Barb~ said...

Being from the South, cooking is something we just grew up doing with our Mommas and I don't remember NOT knowing how to cook. But enjoying it? I've just come into that in the past couple of years.
YAY for new pots and pans!! lol
Peace & Love,

Elizabeth Golden said...

I cook Southern. That is something a lot different than just following a recipe. Everyone cooks here. You sort of start out when you can stand up and reach the counter, before then you are in a chair shelling peas or snapping beans. The biggest secret to cooking is not the pans - but the spices you use. How they blend with the food. once you have that down, anything goes.

Elizabeth Golden said...

Teri I spent a bit of time on your blog tonight, great read by the way.. so good I gave your blog an award, hope you don't mind You can find it on my blog

paperqueen said...

Well, Teri, I love cooking, as long as I don't HAVE to do it. As soon as something seems to be a job, I balk! However, just wanted to say you picked some great pots! I also want to recommend Mark Bitman's "How to Cook Everything." I know you're a reader, and this is not just a cookbook; it's an interesting read! What I like about it, is that it's not just recipes; he teaches simple techniques, which once mastered allows you to create your own dishes. Nothing complicated, no weird ingredients, just a lot of good practical advice.
Enjoy your new All Clad!

morningDove said...

how true to just want it over and get on with something else. love the cooking post and can relate. MIL loves to cook and manages LeCreuset store.

Holli said...

I have no clue what the hell I'm doing in the kitchen but I sure wish i did! I'm with you in that I can get by with what I know how to do and I just throw things in and hope they hurry up.....but I envy those people who enjoy it. I also want to know what my pots and pans can do (and for that matter my knives and kitchen gadgets too!!)

GardeningJo said...

I love cooking but I do plenty of throwing and foot tapping as well. (I'm not big on baking unless it's from a box). That said, there's much I need to learn and have been learning as I take time to see how things cook so I can bring about lots of flavor. There's much trial and error involved as with anything else in life.

A FANTASTIC cookbook which reads like a book is: The Organic Cook's Bible by Jeff Cox. It's amazingly readable and teaches you a lot, not just about the specifc act of cooking, but also about the ingriedients you use. (Lots of recipes too!)

dragyonfly said...

Living with a chef has given me a whole different perspective on cooking vessels and equipment. I am a foot tapper, mostly. But when I was enthusiastic about new and complex recipes, I was too poor to buy anything. All my stuff was handmedowns with teflon wore off.

But now, I just want to be done. Im kinda over it.

Brandie said...

I hate to cook, it's just not my thing. I'm blessed to have a husband who enjoys it and is very good at it. I find I only enjoy it on the weekends when I have more time to make something really good. I've always wished I enjoyed it more and could be more knowledgeable about it! And I admire people who can do it so well and without effort!

teri said...

Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I don't own many cookbooks (why torture myself?) but I'm getting tempted. My dear friend has patiently offered to translate them for me as I don't speak chef. Eileen - that's the best line ever - "I love cooking as long as I don't have to do it." (I know I changed the context :-)
And you ladies with husbands who cook? I'm just jealous all over. Elizabeth - thank you so much!