It seems all too easy for me, this time of year especially, to find my inner dialogue swirl around what I can and can’t eat… what I should and should not put in my body… clean food this / dirty food that… drink more water, eat more kale, for goodness sake STOP thinking about tater tots you heathen!
It’s not so much exhausting as it is tedious and banal. And really… I know I can do better and drink more water, sure… but I’d like to focus on bringing more intention and care to my kitchen life rather than simply trying to eat kale instead of tater tots. What I’m say is, I’m not willing to give up tater tots or any other fried potato… so I’ll at least be intentional about what that looks like.
Know thyself better and better and better. Here are some of my Kitchen Resolutions. Maybe they’ll inspire some good vibes in your home too.
• Take good care. A few years ago, on the single side of one of those long term, completely life-intertwined relationships, I stopped cooking dinner. I was no longer cooking dinner for two people (ah the freedom / ooh the sadness) so really, what was the point of dinner? Scrambled eggs eaten out of the pan are fine for a single woman who just blew up her relationship life. Standing at the stove eating burnt tortillas with butter is plenty when the brain-plate is already full of heartache and change of address slips and internal dramatics and what are all these f-ing dating apps NO. Popcorn and wine because it’s good enough for Olivia Pope and she was sleeping with the damn president (in a fictional series that bears no truth in reality), so it’s good enough for me.
I stopped taking care of myself by way of dinner because me, just me, wasn’t worth it. Here’s the thing… I was so deeply mistaken. All sorts of wrong. Dinner for one, made with care no matter if it’s in a hurry or extra leisurely, is the best routine I’ve gifted myself in the past few years. It’s become a space where I listen to podcasts, stir in silence and think my thoughts, and occasionally sock-dance around the kitchen with wine because good gracious what a privilege it is to have time and space to cook for myself (I didn’t have to negotiate the vegetables or spice level, amen).
• Be less wasteful. Sometimes it takes some convincing to actually eat what’s in the fridge, doesn’t it? What a luxury. I’m doing my best to appreciate the food that’s in my refrigerator, use it all the way up, share it, and most of the scraps become either stock or compost. It’s effort but the stock alone feels pretty fantastic.
Tamar Adler is very fine inspiration.
And do I really know how to compost? No… but I’m learning! So far I think I’m making fine dirt which is the point, I think.
• Take on small cooking adventures. In short, make pasta from scratch more often. Not because there isn’t a store full of plenty of lovely pasta options, but because I can, it’s fun, supremely satisfying, and I can get friends to help. I’ve found that when you realize, really realize with your own hands, what can become of flour + egg + water, you’ll be amazing and more kitchen adventures will follow. It’s like learning magic you can also eat.
• Don’t present plates with apologies. I do this. “Oh… this Gluten-Free Fried Chicken that I just spent 2 hours (happily) making for you, with mashed potatoes and yes I roasted those carrots in extra butter YES I DID… I’m sorry it took so long / I’m sorry the chickens a little well-done / I’m sorry the mashed potatoes are a little lumpy.” NO. Not necessary. Clean the rim of that plate, chest out, chin high, you’re amazing for frying chicken at home and you know it. Accept accolades and high-five your damn self, too.
• Have fun, dangit. Two years back I was in the cozy, warm, exactly-right kitchen of Ashely and Glenn English, me drinking wine while they glided around the kitchen with ease and so much laughter. Glenn made a kimchi frittata and Ashley sliced star fruit for a salad… then used a small star-shaped cookie cutter to cut star shapes out of sliced cucumber. I’ll never forget it! star fruit salad with star-shaped cucumber, herbs, citrus and FUN. It was a really simple reminder to play with my food in unexpected and delicious ways.
• Recognize what you don’t need and let it goooo. This comes from a person who keeps a legitimately broken spatula in my kitchen utility utensil drawer because it’s my ‘lucky spatula’. Not true exactly… it’s mostly just my broken spatula and someone needs to throw the dang thing away while I’m not looking. Since likely no one is going to do that, I’ll have to let it go myself. As I spend more quality time in the kitchen, I’m going to pay attention to what I use and what I don’t- and throw away or donate those things that no longer work. We don’t need the luck, we’ve got knowhow.
For God’s sake, have a seat. I’m the queen of eating (cheese) standing at the kitchen counter, flipping through my phone. At some point I run out of cheese, and wander away from the counter to accomplish another task, likely forgetting that I’ve eaten just… so much cheese. Sit down. Have a proper snack if you want one. Just sit dooowwn so your knows and recognizes that it’s eating cheese glorious cheese. It’s probably how the French do it, minus cigarettes.
Here’s some lovely food comforts to carry along with our kitchen intentions during these colder months: Very Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies // Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble // Whole Roasted Onions // Chicken Spinach Meatball Soup with broth and rice // Peanut Butter Pickle Sandwiches // Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies