Why I Cook: A Manifesto

A funny thing happens when you move out.

All of a sudden, Mom’s not there to make a full meal every night consisting of a protein, starch and green veggie. Someone has to do it. And by that I really mean get dinner on the table, green veggie or not.

The kitchen is one room in the house I really take ownership of. The guest bedroom is extremely unorganized, my bedside table is a wreck, but my kitchen actually makes sense.

I’m thankful that cooking and baking are not burdensome. I enjoy both, as long as I have time to do so and don’t feel rushed. Lately it’s become even more clear to me why I cook and why I bake. So here it is, my kitchen manifesto. Or something like that.

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I cook because I love to eat. Bacon, potatoes, brussels sprouts, rice, cheese, pasta, chicken and wine. Good white wine. Rolls, kale, pizza, brownies, muffins. You get it. And if I don’t have the budget to get these things at restaurants (I don’t) then we need an alternative. Cooking is the alternative.

I cook for the pride of making something really delicious. When I look at my pretty plate of food, or have onions sautéing on one burner, sauce simmering on another and who knows what in the oven, there is something magical about it all coming together. And when it happens to come together at the same time, it’s pure glory.

I cook because it keeps me humble. I’ve made beer bread that was terrible, and some ultra healthy zucchini bread that was even more so. Rolls have turned out tasting too much like yeast and muffins come out too bland. Chicken underdone. Noodles too soggy.  It teaches me that I have so much to learn.

I cook for Thomas. Because he can do better than frozen pizza and buttered noodles, dang it.

I cook as a creative outlet. Monday through Friday, much of my time is spent on the laptop. Evenings and weekends roll around, and I tend to unplug. Kneading dough for pizza tonight felt so great because I could touch it, mold it how I wanted. Finding external ways to express creativity is healthy.

I cook for tradition and to carry on the recipes that both my mom and mother-in-law hold so dear to them. From breakfast casserole to cinnamon rolls to brown sugar thighs, these recipes are worth sharing. Plus, it gives us something to talk about when we’re together.

I cook to share love. And joy. And goodness. Because a tasty bite can instantly provoke feelings of peace and satisfaction. One good dish may not save the world, but it can change how we view the world and our own problems, even if it’s for a mere moment.

Your hobby, or maybe just whatever you do day-to-day, matters. It really matters. What you cook, play, study, teach or sell, these things are important things, and to identify why we do them can be reassuring.

Sometimes we do them for the wrong reasons…because we feel like we have to or the world would fall apart if we didn’t.  And other times we do them because we just plain like it.

Whatever you do, I hope it brings you some kind of goodness.

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5 thoughts on “Why I Cook: A Manifesto

  1. Reminds me of that plaque I had in the kitchen until the remodel: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf

    Wonder where I put that thing?

  2. I am glad that you have been willing to experiment with different kinds of recipes and think it is great that you admitted that it can be a humbling experience. I enjoy cooking and baking very much because I like witnessing the process of a dish being made from raw ingredients. I also have found that food preparation fosters a sense of community. In my church small group, we (well, mostly the couple that hosts us) prepare and share a meal together every Wednesday.

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