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The Spice of Family Life

It grates on me to admit it, but I have been too preoccupied to play with spices and aromas in cookware. I have wantonly dismissed the importance of filling my Home Sweet Home with the fragrances of cooking like I know I should. The heart of my home, the KITCHEN, has been suffering neglect at my hands; it has been relegated to the cutting room floor in the editing of my time. One could say I’ve been keeping too many plates in the air to tend to my kitchen this year, due to grad school obligations and the ever-present gymnasium job demanding my presence. My lack of organization and pungent insistence on good grades have resulted in not giving olfactory pleasures of baking and boiling and simmering and stewing and crock-potting.

My kitchen’s aura has turned brown. I have succeeded in browning the aura, instead of the meat.

When my kitchen is not thrumming and exuding fragrance, I feel that the heart of my home has died. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then mine requires beating… regular heartbeats, that is… whether the beating comes into batter or eggs is of little importance, as long as there is violence imposed upon the ingredients in an effort to shape them into luscious nutrition that satisfies the soul.

In simpler, quick efforts to pay heed to my kitchen and my family, to get the job done and off my counter, I have scrambled my eggs too hard, too vigorously. They need to be gently folded, just like my dentist told me to stop brushing my teeth so hard, but to go in gentle circles. My normal modus operandi is loving and slow caresses but I have gone retrograde in my approach. Anyone in my family knows that I hate to be rushed when I cook; it must be a process of leisure and enjoyment, flicking the spices in, or brushing with egg white on top, whatever needs to be done with delicacy, in what my mother cajoles me lovingly as doing in a “prissy” way.

All of the lessons I have learned from Jamie Oliver and Alexandra Stoddard and Martha Stewart, as well as the magazine Victoria, over the years, have gone by the wayside as my most beautiful cooking efforts, garnered and stashed and demonstrated, have been put on the back burner. I am lucky that my hypothetical wages do not get garnished for lack of trying. My family is undyingly patient and resourceful, and they each have cooking talents of their very own that they share. Sharing the responsibility has strained my sense of urgency, and I’m thankful that they always measure out grace. Lord knows we are not rolling in the dough, but I have found that it really is cheaper to cook from scratch; the flip side is that it takes more time to plan and prepare. I need new inspiration, especially since time continues to be short, (school starts up on Monday for me, Tuesday for our high-schooler) and there are new weight and nutritional goals to create and act upon.

I have a giant cookbook collection, running the gamut from church cookbooks to vegetarian cookbooks to jock cookbooks and everything in-between. I don’t go in for Rachel Ray, as she is a bit too saucy for my taste, and as for Paula Deen, I‘ve always been healthily terrified of her recipes, for fear they will give me an immediate layer of fat around my heart.

I crave getting back to my weekly menu planning and my organized-by-aisle-list (created out of need and desperation when our boys were toddlers), and get cracking, as a show of love and service to my family. I won’t totally say “sayonara” to the sushi guy or “arrivederci” to the pizza guy~ I don’t have the (artichoke) heart or the (fish) guts to give it all up.

Fragrant, welcoming waves of gourmet lusciousness wafting through a household cannot be…well, beat…

If only I had a little more thyme.



Photo courtesy of:  http://kimberleephotography.deviantart.com/art/SPICE-333299232