I’m mesmerized by those who do it well. The assurance, the graceful and fluid movements, the alchemy, the aroma, the moans of pleasure that inevitably result.
But alas, cooking remains a mystery to me.
When I’m in the kitchen, I spill things, burn things, forget to put eggs in the meatloaf (thus resulting in the famous Katrina Meat Pile). I much prefer eating to cooking. And drinking to eating.
For months now, I’ve vowed to incorporate the kitchen into my life — in more meaningful ways than simply washing dishes and Lysol-ing the sink.
It’s a scary and intimidating place for me, full of the unknown.
“You’ll be great,” my dear husband assures me. “You’re an artist. This is art. Just go with it.”
That from a man who can take rutabaga, Red Hots, duck liver, and some leftover Kraft macaroni and cheese and make a feast from it. We really need to get him on “Chopped.”
I’ve also been inspired by my friend, Jenny, who loves to create with fresh food from her garden, entertains like she’s expecting the Queen for dinner, and finds great pleasure in every moment of it. As one of my Christmas gifts, she gave me a kitchen journal. Combining my first love — writing — with the Great Unknown of the Kitchen? Brilliant.
I recorded my first entry after New Year’s Day. And it went like this…
We awoke in the warm and welcoming home of our dear friends, Joe and Kirsten, on this glorious New Year’s Day. Bed-headed and still recovering from an evening of over-abundant food and drink, we all stumbled into the family room at various intervals to drink coffee and snuggle on the couch. When lunch beckoned and kids inquired with hungry eyes, Kirsten began to prepare an array of finger foods — a New Year’s Day buffet.
“What can I do?” I asked.
“Why don’t you dip the strawberries?” she suggested as she melted a bowl of milk chocolate. And it was GOOD milk chocolate, not the cheap kind — thanks to the pushy and insistent woman who stood next to her in the baking aisle. There was also white chocolate. And dark chocolate. I had three different bowls with which to create my masterpieces — or my personal embarrassment.
Instantly, I panicked. Strawberries? Chocolate? Dipping? How did that work? Did I take the stems off? How far did I dip them? My inexperience in the kitchen nearly rendered me useless.
Yes, I know. It was just strawberries and chocolate. I KNOW. No judging.
“Sure,” I agreed. And I pulled my big girl cooking panties on and began dipping as well as I knew how. We laughed and talked, Kirsten and I. Mary Claire joined us for awhile, licking the extra chocolate from her wandering fingertips. Then she joined Aly in the family room and their giggly chatter became our background music.
In the distance, we could hear the boys yelling and cheering their favorite teams to victory. Chris and Joe outdid each other with their Larger-Than-Life Laughter.
It was pure perfection, this state of being. The strawberries may not have been perfect, but no one complained. And every single one of them was eaten.
But here’s the real magic.
Chocolate-dipped strawberries now have new meaning for me. They now conjure up images of good friends, genuine laughter, and a brand new beginning. They will forever make me think of my beautiful blonde friend — the one who withholds judgment and loves unconditionally. The one who is smart and witty and sexy and sassy. The one who blesses my life with her love and devotion and her sweet dance moves.
Who knew strawberries were so powerful?