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There’s a downside to having all of your meals prepared for you while you lounge in bed. Well, there is if you enjoy cooking. I have a friend who once described meal planning and preparation as “a necessary chore, like scrubbing toilets.” Hideous analogy, I know. I actually lost my appetite for five seconds. Then I ate a slice (or two) of homemade bread with butter and felt much better.
But, since my doctor has ordered me off my feet, the closest I’ve come to cooking is stirring raisins into my oatmeal each morning. And I miss every part of it.
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I miss shopping with my kids. They scamper around the produce section, tearing off plastic baggies and foraging through the bins to fill our basket with fresh grapes, apples, citrus fruits, salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, all the different varieties of mushrooms, potatoes, onions, and squash. I handle raw meats, seafood and poultry. They clamor for their favorites at the bulk bin section, we load up the reusable shopping bags (if I remembered to bring them) and we head home to stock the refrigerator, pantry and fruit bowl.
At home there’s a lull as recipe collections, cookbooks and recipe blogs are perused. It’s relaxing, an excuse to sit down and prop up my feet. It’s inspiring, a chance to put a new twist on an old favorite or try something new.
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Hmmm…curried carrot soup, that sounds risky. Oh, look, it calls for butter and cream, it must be delicious. What if I added lightly sauteed leeks for a little flavor boost? Wait, since when does curry need a flavor boost?
As much as I enjoy this process, with three kids at home, it doesn’t last long. So the decision is made for dinner that evening, a rough meal plan is sketched out for the next four to seven days and I move on, until the late afternoon hour and impending hunger draw me back to my kitchen.
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It is heaven for the senses. A gentle clatter of pans, the smooth, creamy surface of peeled garlic; carrots, robustly orange, wait by the cutting board for swift, heavy knife strokes to dissemble them for the soup pot. Butter and oil warm together, sizzle, then settle when thin loops of fresh leeks are added.
Gradually, over the next half hour, our home is transformed by the fragrant chemistry that is dinner cooking.
It is nice to have a break, but I am looking forward to the day I can go back to the routine, to what I expect.