Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Food Isn't Love, Cooking Is

I am currently watching a documentary series on Netflix called Cooked, narrated by writer Michael Pollen. It examines cooking through 4 episodes based on the 4 elements: fire, water, air, and earth.

It's fascinating. I love food, all aspects of food. It's not just the eating, although that's good too. I love the planning. (Still, a little help sometimes would be nice) Holidays are not complete without the elaborate planning of menus. Who is coming? What are their dietary needs? Are there favourite or traditional foods we have to have?Are there new foods we should try? I love the choosing of ingredients. It's not the shopping. I could do without the crowds. (Although there is something special about the Jewish community all shopping together. The shtetl is recreated in the Pesach food aisle.) It's the choosing of ingredients. The tangible feel of picking each brussel sprout. Our regular store has recently switched to more packaged produce. I hate it. The quality seems lower, and choosing a plastic bag is simply not the same as choosing a pepper, feeling it for firmness, examining the colour and the shape. I love the time I spend preparing a good meal - good in taste and good in nutrients.

Meals in our home are prepared fresh. Yes, there are some ingredients we use for shortcuts. I keep canned tomato products and beans, condiments, and meat substitutes. Over time this list has shortened. Homemade hummus and techina are simple. We now make our own mustard, though there are a few we still buy as well. During Pesach we made mayonnaise, and will again. We bake our own bread. The use of prepared foods used for meals has dwindled to almost none.

All this takes time. I spend 2-3 hours in food preparation each night. Breakfast has become a make ahead meal that can be reheated. Lunch for me is salad or soup, homemade. Sean likes to finish up the leftovers. Shabbat and Hagim are special. Fridays are spent in preparation. I begin by by 8 am, just after the kids leave for school, and continue for 7-8 hours. From challah to entrées to sides and desserts, all are prepared by hand. The leavings go into compost, not only the city's compost, but our own in spring, summer, and fall. We grow what we can, when we can. That too takes planning, but there's nothing better than fresh picked produce.

Love and food often go together. It's the time and the effort we expend. To cook for you is for me to say you are worth my time and my effort. I care about what you need and what you want.

Pleasant dreams.