Give me a kitchen full of people and I am a happy girl. Give me chaos and people bustling around, talking – or more likely in this house – shouting, passing each other ingredients, taking turns chopping and stirring. I love the noise and the mess and the cooperation and the arguments and the busyness of it.
Give me flour on the counter and tomato sauce spatters on the backsplash, one kid peeling carrots and another one setting the table. Someone else dancing and singing to whatever music is playing in the background.
Do not, though, under any circumstances, give me a quiet kitchen. Empty out all the sound and movement and the togetherness and I shut down.
I work from home, so obviously have time every day to thaw something from the freezer, prep veggies, make some homemade bread even. I do have a really great dinner roll recipe, and I know it would be so lovely come dinner time, warm bread right out of the oven. But I can’t quite find the motivation when I’m home all alone.
Once Quinn started school – three years ago now, unbelievably – cooking became one of my least favorite parts of the day. Even though a 3- or 4-year old sous chef isn’t very much help (possibly the opposite of helpful, actually), at least there was someone there to talk to and that made the task so much more enjoyable. It made cooking less of a chore.
Whenever possible these days, I wait until after I’ve picked up the kids to start making dinner. While they sit at the kitchen island and do homework, I happily chop veggies and prepare a nice meal. I have someone to talk to and it makes the task enjoyable.
On the weekends, as long as someone sits in the kitchen and chats with me, I’ll cook all day. Even better if they throw on an apron and help mix and sautee.
No matter how much I may look at the mess at the end of a six-person cooking extravaganza with a sigh and grimace, I’d clean that up ten times over before I’d choose a solitary chef session.
There are people who love the quiet solitude of baking alone or making a meal for others to enjoy, love the space and calmness of a kitchen to themselves. I get that concept in theory, but the practice of it leaves me drained.
Give me my loud messy crazy family cooking nights; they are food for my soul as much as my body.