I live a pretty structured food life. Every Sunday, we make the grocery list, planning what we’ll cook each night and buying the ingredients for it. On Sundays, I like to cook big meals or meals that take a lot of time – soups, casseroles, braised meats. I like to bank leftovers, planning on the days later in the week when I inevitably don’t want to cook but also want to eat.
This Sunday, I made a pork stir fry using this Vietnamese pork recipe, and I made a crock pot baked potato soup. I’m not sure why I made this much food. The noodles are almost gone now, but only after we ate it for Sunday dinner, Monday lunch, and Tuesday lunch. The soup will last us all week, and we’ll probably have to freeze some of it.
I realized while I was cooking for five hours that I sometimes cook because I’m stressed. Stressed and feeling like I can’t do things right, I turn to cooking. In cooking, I can get it right, or right enough. I can add things to make it delicious. Bacon, butter, cheese, etc. There’s a beginning, middle and end to cooking. I like setting everything up, getting my mixing bowls out, the pans on the stove, the cutting board on the counter and the knives sharpened. I like the roteness of mise en place, mincing a cup of garlic, cleaning mushrooms, dicing potatoes. I like to multitask, starting the pasta while the sauce reduces, toasting bread while the bacon sizzles. I like to see all the ingredients and know that I’ll turn them into something good in the end. I even like to wash the dishes and see them clean, the aftermath of a satisfying meal. I like to put all the leftovers away and anticipate them for lunch the next day.
When life gets overwhelming for me, I turn to cooking. With cooking, I know how to make it right, and I know that in the end, I’ll have something to show for it. On those days where you feel like there are so many wrong answers and not enough right ones, too many ways for things to go wrong, knowing your soup will be delicious can be comforting.