I have a love/hate relationship with rain. OK, maybe love is too strong a word. I know rain is necessary. But because I am a dog owner, and the type of person who gets a chill if someone even utters the word "snow," waking up to rain and the knowledge that I have to walk the dogs is just downright painful. Griping and moaning, I drag the unwilling animals out of the house with two leashes in one hand and an umbrella in the other, sternly urging them at every pause to 'get on with it' so we can head back to the house as soon as possible.
And while I hate having to go out in the rain, with all the negative feelings that it incites in me, I actually have a great appreciation for it too. Because once I get back from walking the dogs on a rainy day, I dry them down, kick off my boots and put on my apron.
While many would consider rain to be a 'paperwork' day, when they can force themselves to sit down without guilt and go through bills and filing that have piled up, its cold and unappealing nature essentially shoves me out of the office and into the kitchen. Since it's the dark and cold that I loathe, the kitchen is my haven on these days, and cooking saves me.
Many times it doesn't even matter what I cook. A big pot of soup, some stew and biscuits or maybe a roast--nothing is ruled out. If I haven't figured out a dinner plan yet, I'll shoot for lunch. Today it was ham, cheese, spinach and tomato quiche with a homemade crust: one for me, one for the freezer. (OK, I'll share.) Since it didn't take very long, I'm thinking of making some pancakes to have on hand for the boys' breakfasts during the week, especially since they both have colds and sore throats now. (Ain't that always the way with the first month of school?) Finally, I'll have to truly christen the new oven with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
For years I've wondered why my love of cooking swings to both ends of the spectrum: some days I just want to order every meal out, and others I want to eschew every other obligation and just cook for hours.
I'm starting to think that rushing to get something on the table that everyone will eat, while feeling I have other things that need tending to, is really the culprit behind those days I hate to cook. Knowing that I can't spend the time and creative energy to make it warm enough--in my kitchen and heart--to produce quality results is stressful and disheartening. It makes cooking feel like work.
So with winter here already (OK, maybe not technically, but 40-degree nights are, in my mind, winter), it's time to start planning some meals to really put my new kitchen to the test. And maybe with enough practice, I'll stumble upon some dishes that even my kids will be willing to try. If not, at least I'll be warm and dry and having fun trying.