I think careful cooking is love, don’t you?
The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you
is about as nice a valentine as you can give.
The theme of this month is simple pleasures. One of life’s simple pleasures, and necessities, is food.
There are many things around food that give people joy. From the planning and growing to preparing your own food. And of course, the consumption, which I have written about previously in my Love of food series.
- Love of food series, part 1: What is flavor and how do we perceive it?
- Love of food series, part 2: What is taste and how do we sense it?
- Love of food series, part 3: What makes the food experience?
After eating food, my next greatest joy is the preparation of food. Trying out a new recipe, making improvisations to old recipes, or making a family favorite. It is all great.
As you will often hear top chefs say, the best dishes are due to the quality of the ingredients. Fresh produce and meats. Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb. We have a few pots on the deck, but I have to depend on my local grocery store. Luckily, they have really stepped up their game in the last few years. There are also quite a few farmer’s markets near me locally.
After fresh quality ingredients comes fresh preparation. Not frozen or prepared in a factory. I love the home cooked meal.
Why? You get to know exactly what you’re eating. Even when it is “unhealthy”, it is still a million times healthier than the unhealthy things you get in restaurants. You get to hear the yum’s at the table and see faces light up when they smell a favorite meal upon entering the house. The excitement when a favorite treat has been baked is the best!
So read on, the topic of this article is the simple pleasures you can get out of preparing your own food.
Preparing your own food
Cooking is nurturing. What could be more caring then providing sustenance to those you love? Keeping them healthy and happy is a very loving act.
On your own, making food is an activity ripe for flow. This means you can be extremely content and in the zone while cooking. The challenges, skills, and feedback really put you in your own world. (See Related: How to be more happy with life using flow)
Cooking with others can be equally enjoyable. With friends or a partner, it can be teamwork. Working together and communicating to achieve a common yummy goal. After all the work, you get to enjoy it together! Eating together can be quite bonding.
Cooking with kids is fun. You do have to be patient, but you are teaching valuable life skills. Everyone needs to know how to cook a little. We all eat and it is important to be at least a little self-sufficient. I just don’t understand when people say they can’t cook. What do you mean? You start with just reading and following directions. Cooking is worth spending a little effort into learning, don’t you think? Anyway, I will get off my soapbox.
What better way to realize the joy of preparing your own food than actually doing it? To help you, I am providing 2 of my favorite recipes for fun cooking. They are just right for summer eating al fresco on the desk.
The first is from a project of cooking with my kids and is actually the inspiration for this article. Last summer, my kids and I took on a project to try to make different types of homemade sodas. We made several: green apple, lemon-lime, watermelon, current, cherry vanilla, orange with honey, pear, and ginger lemon.
Our favorite was green apple! It is crisp and perfect for summer. It is a little sweet and a little tart, but not overly so, just right.
The second recipe is a pesto recipe I have worked on for a few years. It is a little healthier with the use of walnuts as opposed to the traditional pine nuts. It is fun and fresh, plus you can eat it immediately. Instant gratification. It is fun for a snack or incorporated into an entire meal. It is a great recipe to play around with to get your own personal spin on the flavor.
On with the recipes, I hope you enjoy them.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 granny smith apples
1/3 cup lime juice (~2 limes)
1. Cut up the apples into very thin slices. The goal is to get the maximize amount of surface area from the apples.
2. Make simple syrup by boiling the water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool a bit.
3. Add lime juice to the syrup.
4. Place the apple slices into an airtight container. Pour the syrup with lime juice over the apples. Seal container and place in refrigerator for 24 hours or more.
5. To make soda pop, pour syrup mix and sparkling water over ice. I use a syrup mix to sparkling water ratio of 1:2. (Example: Pour half cup syrup mix to one cup sparkling water.) Garnish with lime slice, if desired.
Note: To personalize it you can play around with the portions of apples and lime juice. You can make the flavor stronger by letting the apples marinate in the syrup and juice for 48 hours instead of 24 hours.
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil, packed
2 cups parsley, packed
7 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Place entire garlic cloves (paper and all) in a dry pan and roast for about 10 minutes on low-medium heat. This softens them and their flavor. I think this is the secret to making the pesto extra good. Once slightly cooled, remove paper and coarsely chop.
2. Coarsely chop the walnuts, basil, parsley.
3. Add all ingredients into a food processor and blend until desired texture.
Note: This recipe is easy to personalize by adjusting any of the ingredient amounts. My husband prefers less parsley. Sometimes, I will add a touch of lemon to punch it up. I really like it bright tasting.
Do you agree?
Do you enjoy preparing your own food as much as I do? Of course, it isn’t fun if you are rushed or starving. It is the leisurely act that makes it relaxing and enjoyable.
Enjoying a bite or 2 and having a special drink while you are cooking doesn’t hurt.
Do you grow some of your own food? If so, I am a little jealous. I wish I had the patience and knowhow to do that.
Do you have specific recipes that make you happier to create? I love making my chocolate chip banana bread for my kids. It is healthy, lower-fat and they love it. It is just a positive association for everyone.
Take time this summer to enjoy all the seasonal produce to create some fabulous meals and memories.
Until the next time, bon appétit!
Julia Child quotes on BrainyQuote