20 October 2010

Cooking with gas

News flash: I like food. Yawn. Slow news day. You all know that cooking and eating good (and sometimes completely, deliciously bad) food occupy a fair amount of my existence. Always has been, for better or worse. It's how I like to spend my time, interact with others. I've thought even more about food and cooking since meeting M.

Ours is not a relationship based on going out to dinner, as seems to be the case so often when one starts dating. No, almost from the beginning, we cooked. Or more precisely, we canned. Because someone thinks there is no limit to the number of tomatoes that can be planted on a city lot (it could be either of us I live in a condo), and because we met as summer gardens were exploding, we had a LOT of produce to process. Seventeen quarts of tomato sauce, pickles, beets, sauerkraut, on and on and on. A lot of work, but over those hours in the kitchen we learned so much about each other: how we work and think, what food meant to us growing up, how traditions have shaped who we are. And we learned that we're both intuitive cooks, that we can dance around the kitchen without being in each other's way, that we can anticipate what the other needs. Even better, we agreed that sitting down together to eat at the end of our busy days is non-negotiable. That time to cook with and for each other, to reflect on the day, and to plan for the week ahead: we're not trading that time for TV or a meal on the run. It's not always fancy, but it is homemade and creative and usually fairly healthy.

We both have meals we can whip up on the fly, but like you, are always looking to expand weeknight options (besides, we like to experiment with new ingredients). You can't swing a dead organic responsibly-harpooned fish without finding an attractive food blog. My friend Erin now blogs from Australia (and here's hoping she omits her new recipes for braised marsupial), and my young newlywed friends Hannah and Matt are putting their wedding registry to good use in their tiny grad-school kitchen. Even my favorite personal finance blogger wrote about food last week. America is hungry. And obese, but that's another post.

With so many blogs, cooking sites, and food resources at our disposal, I fear the days of sitting and flipping through a cookbook and developing a repertoire may be behind us (my mom and dad are great cooks, and everything they cooked when I was growing up came from the index card recipe file or a half-dozen well-worn books). Friends E & B have found a great solution to culinary ADHD: they're cooking their way through the Moosewood cookbook (yay alfalfa sprouts!). Because imitation is the sincerest form of laziness, M and I are doing something similar. We've started working our way through The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. So satisfying to cook simply but in a new way on a Monday evening. We're not giving ourselves a deadline for finishing the book, and we're not going through it in order (I'm way too laidback for that sort of thing). We're simply picking it up when we can't decide what to eat, and choosing something that looks good. I can only hope that every recipe is as delicious as the warm white bean salad that we tried first.

Go to your own bookshelf, pick a cookbook, and decide for yourself how to cook your way through it. And let us all know what you've chosen. Between the 14 of us, we'll all enjoy a better answer to the question: what's for supper?


  1. While I had a great time at the sing-along SOM, I'm kind of sad that there were more nun-related comments than appeared after this heart- and stomach-warming entry. I'm going to pick a cookbook and join you on this quest.

  2. Hi RBL: dying to know what cookbook you're choosing for the project.

  3. First of all, you've made me that warm white bean salad and I LOVED IT. You should maybe post that for us so we can all enjoy it. Secondly, I have been cookbook-less since I moved and so have endlessly daydreamed about recipes I am going to cook when my books do arrive. I for sure want to work my way through The Country Cooking of Ireland that E&B got me. Remember that lettuce and pea soup I made? Sooo delicious.


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