My friend Shelly Miller wrote a post called “How Saturdays Are Saving Me.” It’s also about cooking.
The whir of the Kitchen Aid, the ting of the timer, chocolate melting in the oven, the aroma of chicken simmering in the Crockpot — it all seems like a holy union, as if the act of cooking is saving me somehow.
Shelly’s life has been in flux for a while now, as she and her husband prepare for a move to London. There have been delays, twists. They should have been there by now. Instead, they are doing the best they can, one day at a time, with no income.
Four months of living in exile leads me back to what is base to humanity. In cooking, I’m looking for some small crumb of hope in the silent mystery that currently encompasses life.
Shelly says that cooking anchors her. And I so get that. When the storm in my life came, I didn’t recognize it for the monster it was. One day I looked up and realized I hadn’t cooked in two years.
So finally, I was ready. And I was scared. Where should I start? Would it make any difference? Most important, If I make it, will they come?
I turned to another friend (who happens to be a friend of Shelly’s) — Kristin Schell. I wish I remembered which of her recipes I tried first, but I can’t. All I remember is it worked. I made it, people gathered around the table and ate it, and it was good.
That was about a year and a half ago when I started cooking again. The storm didn’t stop—not by any means—but like Shelly, I found that cooking settled me.
Every time I follow one of Kristin’s recipes, it’s a bit of a mystery–if I do what she says to do, will it work out? Will it nourish my soul? Last night my husband came home to the smells of Roasted Chicken with Apples & Shallots. A couple of days earlier, I’d made Potluck Fiesta Bean Salad for a Bible study dinner. I’m planning to make her Baked Artichoke Nibbles for Thanksgiving.
I’m not cooking every day, but when I do, it feels like something miraculous.
That is why I’m drawn to my kitchen to create and cannot explain it. And why I cook with my shoes off.