day 28 I Am

day 28 I am

I don’t think of myself as a cook. Most days, however, I cook all my three meals, and that seems to be a more rare thing in the US. 

Vegetables are why I cook. I used to make sandwiches or burritos, throwing food together, and now I cook because I like to eat vegetables. I like how vegetables taste and I like how they fuel my body. I keep it quick and easy most of the time with a stir fry. 

Recently I made a dish for a potluck, and, truly, it was beautiful. It wasn’t rave worthy and no one asked for the recipe (which is good since I made it up as I went). However, it was gorgeous and enticing enough that there was not much left over at the end of the night. I call that a win.

I realize, it’s time to start calling myself a cook. I don’t have to be a great cook. I don’t invest a ton of time or energy into becoming a better cook, and that means I’ll probably never be a great cook. That’s okay. I can be a runner without being a great runner, I can be a reader without reading whatever Great Books that readers are supposed to read, and I can be a cook without being a great cook. That’s okay. I’m gonna own it. 

On June 23, I wrote that I don’t use cookbooks and recipes much, and it’s true. Over the years, though, on my long slow journey to becoming a more conscious eater and becoming a cook, I have found a few cookbooks that have inspired me, even though I don’t use their recipes often.

I don’t know if I’ve used any of the recipes in Ed Espe Brown’s books but I soaked up his comments on cutting techniques and reveled in his stories and reflections. He taught me that cooking is a skill that can be learned and that eating, too, is a skill that can be expanded. He whispered in my ear that cooking could be beautiful, even spiritual.

I loved reading Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America because it was filled with stories, and I use her Jewish Holiday Cooking for the items I make once a year, such as matzoh balls. Food has not just a physical function but a historical place. Part of the spirit of a recipe is its history. In honoring recipes, I’m honoring the cooks before me. 

The Self Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner changed how I thought about food. Now I think of food in terms of how it affects my energy and emotions, not just my body. 

Turner takes a gentle approach to food, suggesting we experiment and see how we feel. She warns some food may bring high drama, which was the first time I considered that foods weren’t good or bad but all have consequences. When I make a choice (any choice, not just food), I can choose to consider the consequences as well. Sometimes, I do.