For this week’s recipe, I wanted to step away from the food itself and take a good look at my workshop. (As a carpenter’s daughter, I often catch myself referring to my cooking as “building” a dish, so the analogy is carrying over to my kitchen as well. But I digress.) Here on A Weight Lifted, we often write about mindfulness, and how it is a great tool to assist you in healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle in general. GMFR’s Chef Jon and I like to carry that concept over to the process of cooking, as well.
Any good cook is good at it because they like it. It takes practice to have good knife skills, efficient prep time management, and a feel for bread dough or the doneness of meat. Many women I meet at Green Mountain are busybusybusy with careers, families, etc., and have not invested the time in really practicing cooking. There’s only one way to learn. You have to get your hands dirty, often quite literally. After learning the basic techniques, a cook can begin to reach a beautiful Zen-like happiness in prepping food. Here are a few of my hints for being more mindful (and hopefully happy) about the time spent in your kitchen.
- Plan before you get there. For me this often means writing down a checklist of what I definitely need to do, as well as things I hope to accomplish, but if it doesn’t happen, no big whoop. Having it on paper means it doesn’t have to occupy as much space in my mind, and always helps me prioritize and manage my valuable time better.
- Keep it clean. I prefer to make the mess rather than clean it up, but if I have all surfaces gleaming and everything in it’s right place the night before I have a day off, I am far more likely to wake up, walk into that kitchen, brew some coffee, and start cookin’ like there’s no tomorrow. Besides, it’s easier to clean later if it starts out that way.
- Make the kitchen inviting. Indulge yourself by putting on some good mellow music, lighting a candle or five, and including at least one dish in your prep that is exceptionally fragrant. Something as simple as apple cider simmering in a crock pot with a couple of cinnamon sticks and a few cloves can completely transform the kitchen into a much more welcoming place, as well as give you the great reward of a warm, spicy bevvy when the rest of your cooking is done.
- Savor your ingredients. Cooking is the most sensual art form there is, engaging all five senses. When it comes to your ingredients, feel the textures, appreciate the colors, hear the sounds of slicing and simmering, get your nose up close and breathe deeply, and yes, taste things. Better yet, taste EVERYTHING, as a good cook always does. Be one with your food. You’ll find you will treat your ingredients more respectfully when you really get to know them well.
- Avoid thinking of time in the kitchen as a chore. Yes, that might be what it is, but let’s get down to the big issue here: Your body is a machine. You need to keep it running as best you can. Better to put Premium fuel in (think local, organic food made with love from scratch) than some cheap junk. Invest in your body, you are going to have it your whole life.
What is your favorite thing about spending time in a kitchen?