I must tell you about how I got to be here. It all started in my mama’s kitchen. Of course it did, right? Don’t all foodies learn to love food at home? Well, my mama was a great cook. I say was, because she doesn’t cook much any more. “Now that the family’s gone, there just isn’t much a reason to cook a big pot of spaghetti or a pot roast on Sunday”, she says. And I can’t really argue, she’s right, cooking for one is not easy because managing portion sizes to the point where you don’t have to eat the same thing for a week is a real challenge. I tried it when I lived alone, and soon pretty much gave up, too.
Anyway, back to mama’s kitchen. I can remember helping her in the kitchen in my earliest memories. Whether it was that Sunday after church pot roast or chicken & dumplin’s on a cold wintry day, watching and eventually helping her turn ingredients into a satisfying meal for the family was the epitome of love to me. It always seemed that mama, who demonstrated her love for us in so many ways, did it most eloquently with a big meal.
Every Sunday morning, we would start the week with a trip to the commissary. Up and down every aisle, we would go each week. We’d plan menu’s, consider prices and add treats for the family. We’d leave the store with two full carts most weeks, but know for sure that we’d be back the following week. Of course, with a family of five who love food, it’s tough not fill two baskets, especially once the kids grow into their teen years.
When we got home, we’d put away the food, clean vegetables and fruit and begin to prepare the Sunday meal. My favorite was fried chicken. Daddy’s originally from the south, so even though mama’s wasn’t, she learned to cook as his family had. It made for a great combination of foods crossing the palate over the years. When you add the years we spent in Japan, there was ultimately no food I wouldn’t try at least once. Mama, she learned how to cook most all of them, and by osmosis or dedicated lessons on a particular dish, I learned them too.
So I do the same now, for my family. I am happiest when I am preparing the meals. It really doesn’t matter what stage the preparation is, either. For example, I’ve been experimenting with gardening for about 5 years, so that I can have my own source of some ingredients. This year, it’s tomatoes and cucumbers. As a matter of fact, I’ve got tomatoes out the ears right now. Oh, they are wonderful! Last year, I had chili peppers. From jalapeno’s to habenero’s, I had ton’s of peppers through out the summer. Next year, I am planning to extend my gardening space, for the express purpose of being able to grow even more vegetables.
I don’t just grow vegetables though. I have a raspberry bush and two blackberry bushes. I also have experimented with mint. If you’ve never grown mint, I don’t really recommend it. It’ll take over your space. It grows like squash really, and will dominate your entire garden, or you’ll fight it forever. Quite annoying.
So from the garden, I head to my kitchen. I LOVE MY KITCHEN. It has 5 windows and looks into my back yard. It is big enough to entertain in, while still feeling cozy. My husband put a radio/cd player in the kitchen so I can jam while I cook. If you want to see me at my happiest, you’ll find me there on a Saturday or Sunday, chopping or cooking. My kids will be running through with their Tonka trucks and the radio will be playing songs I can sing to. I can’t easily recollect a time that I am more relaxed or content than those times.