Food = Love

Food = Love

An appropriate topic with Valentine’s Day looming this week. All about some LOVE! ❤ I’ve spent several days watching Food Network while I’ve been sick and confined to the house. I enjoy watching all the cooking because I like to cook. As I was watching a particular episode of Chopped, I was reminded why I love cooking so much. For me it’s a way to show my family and friends how important they are to me by feeding them.

Food = Love 

Creating a meal is my way of nurturing and feeling like I’m meeting a need at the same time. I’m sure there is some psychology behind why, but really I don’t need to know why because I’ll just continue to cook because I can.

Cooking is a skill that I’ve developed over the years. I can remember some beginning meals that make me cringe. I’m pretty sure there were some things that should’ve gone straight to the trashcan. Can’t even tell you how many years it took me to figure out gravy from scratch and not the package variety. It was my Achilles for years. I mean really I’m a southern woman,  holy crap, I should be able to make gravy. I was beyond proud when it all finally came together. I made breakfast for just about every meal for a solid month!

Over the years I’ve tackled all kinds of styles and flavors of food. If I ate something in a restaurant that I loved but knew I’d never be able to get that where I lived, I’d figure out how to make it myself. Helps that have a pretty decent palate. Despite having this ability my son is a picky eater. Lord help me. Slowly but surely he’s coming along. I love it when he tries something new and he loves it. When he’s home I fix his favorites. Chicken and dumplings are top of his list followed by homemade fish fingers. At Christmas I made chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping for the first time. He loves chocolate cheesecake so I made it. I’m sure I’ll make it again and again. A mother’s love knows no bounds when it comes to school projects. My son and I took on some Greek recipes for an English class. We made Tiropitakia. If you like feta you’ll like these. And gyros – he loves those. Plus it makes me feel good when he tells me I’m spoiling him by cooking his favorites and spending time teaching him how to cook some of them as well.

I’ve learned to cook a lot of things in the name of love. Italian…the amount of pasta I’ve made is ridiculous! I can whip out a homemade Alfredo sauce like nobodies business. Tex-Mex….well that was mostly for myself and so was the Indian. I learned to grill for my little carnivore baby. Oh the burned meat I served was outrageous, but now I’m skilled with a gas grill, charcoal or even over an open fire. I’m the official grill master for Father’s Day. I get teased by my grandfather but he still eats my food. It’s an opportunity for me to do the work and for the men to kick back and enjoy. Except it never fails that dad’s gas grill runs out of propane. No lie. Two years in a row this has happened to me.

If you don’t have a crockpot you need one. It’s so awesome to walk into my home at the end of the work day and smell the yummiest scents emanating from that crockpot. Pulled pork is divine but I can do an amazing barbacoa just as easily. Talk about feeding the soul and some folks good food! Makes my mouth water thinking about it and really I haven’t felt like eating anything except soup for DAYS!

I learned to home can food for the love of family tradition. It’s something that transcends the generations and connects me to the women and the men that gardened and canned the fruits of their labor. Really a labor of love because the food was stored up for a whole family or families. I love eating fresh food and staying away from overly processed, so I do a mixture of canning and freezing. I’m grateful to have family that provides me with home grown veggies and a fantastic farmers market to shop for all the rest. Before too long it will be time to order strawberries and blueberries…yummy deliciousness!

I’ve taken on gluten free and vegan as well. All for the love of friends and family. Can’t say I’ve always been successful at everything I’ve tried but I think it’s the effort that counts. I definitely put a lot of love and caring into the food I prepare. There have been a few less than deserving individuals that I’ve poured time and energy into cooking for in the past. There were the blueberry white chocolate scones – that was a mistake. The man not the scones. Oh Lord how about the pie…let’s skip that part not worth the time.

Really it’s a bit disturbing now that I think about how important cooking is for me. Good thing I don’t freak when a dish isn’t loved. It’s more about the satisfaction of fixing the meal and the care that goes into tasty goodness. If I think back to Gary Chapman’s book ‘The 5 Love Languages’ it would probably fall under service or maybe quality time. I do enjoy gabbing while I’m in the kitchen or standing over a grill.

Valentine’s Day is one time a year, but showing the people you love how much you care can be done everyday in many ways. For me, one way is through cooking. I know there are more dishes to try, more cuisine to share, and lots of fun and love to spread around.

-G.

*Photos are from Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR.