Saturday, March 12, 2011

On the restorative power of cooking

Some days, some weeks, are harder than others.  Some days we all would rather stay snuggled under the covers and sleep the day away than get up, shower, dress, and behave like responsible adults.  I know I would.  The last couple of weeks have been like that for me. Work has been crazy.  Life has been crazy.  The hours have been long.  The deadlines have been short.  By the time I get home, I am ready for bed.  Fortunately, although it didn't seem that way at first, one day last week I didn't  have the option of going straight to bed.  One does require some sort of nourishment in order to prepare to do it all over again the next day, after all.  Enter my kitchen. 

I will admit to being frustrated at first that it fell to me to figure out what to do about dinner as soon as I walked in at 6:00 after working all damn day, but I felt like it did, so I started digging in the fridge and the cabinets.  The outlook appeared daunting, but I am nothing if not creative and able to improvise.  As I began to chop red onion and garlic, my shoulders started to relax.  I was inspired to toss sun-dried tomatoes with some of their oil, green olives, and pitted kalamata olives into the food processor to make a tapenade of sorts.  I used olive oil and the tapenade to saute' the onions and garlic in my new Dutch oven.  Then I tossed in sliced turkey Kielbasa and browned it up a bit with everything else.  My breathing began to slow.  To this beautiful mixture,  I added a carton of Roma tomatoes, Vodka, and some finely chopped Greek pepperocini with the juice from the jar.  The aroma was amazing and I was feeling better by the moment.  I added a bunch of spices - red pepper flakes, garlic pepper, black pepper, rosemary garlic...I have no idea what else...I just started tossing stuff in as the muse struck me.  Then I boiled some whole wheat penne until it was almost done, and tossed it into the Dutch oven to finish cooking and soak up some of the sauce.  By now my sweetheart had joined me in the kitchen and mixed up a Prosecco, Pomegranate, and ginger ale sangria for us.  I served the pasta creation in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan and Asiago cheese over the top - everything is better with cheese.  We toasted it with the sangria. 

I could no longer remember anything that had challenged me during the day.  I had cooked it away, and life was good once again.  After my sweetheart cleaned up the kitchen we adjourned to the living room whence I promptly fell asleep in my favorite chair.

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