Tag Archives: cooking

Cooking Together

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.

New Veg

photo via Abel and Cole

We get two farm delivery boxes every week here, one from Abel & Cole and one from Riverford Farms.  I almost never go to the grocery store anymore, and we get fresh organic food on our doorstep every week.  I love it.

We’ve tried several new vegetables and fruits because they’ve come in our deliveries.  Some we’ve not loved, but others have become new favorites.

This week we got a bunch of purple sprouting broccoli in our delivery, which I’d never even heard of before moving here.  I was totally unsure how to cook it.  I checked my Riverford Cookbook though, and gave it a go.

I blanched it first, then sauteed it in a wok with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice & zest, and salt.  It’s al dente — still a little crunch but easy to bite.

Guys, Matt and I were arguing over who got the last helping.  The kids INHALED it.  It was SO good.

There’s a super short window when this veg is available, but it is going on my list as a new favorite.

*****

If you’re interested in trying out one of these farm delivery services, shoot me an email and I can refer you as a friend, then we both get money back on a fruit or veg box delivery!

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Adjusting to a New Kitchen

 

KelseyGerhard-15-1-rush-1After over eight years living in the same house in D.C., I got really used to cooking in my kitchen.  And I really LOVED that kitchen.

The new kitchen here in England had a lot to live up to — we left behind tons of cabinet space, tons of counter space, and a huge open eating area. 

We’ve found both pros and cons to the new space: we have far less cabinet space (not awesome), but we have a HUGE island that is amazingly convenient for cooking and baking and which everyone in the family completely gravitates to (so awesome).

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We have an electric stove top instead of gas.  Not my fave: gas stove tops give you far greater control of the heat.  And we have a teeny tiny European size fridge, which makes it hard to buy enough for six people for a week.

But we have huge windows with gorgeous views and amazing natural light.  We look out the back window at an 800-yr old church. 

view from the kitchen window_LB

And we have a dance floor — a raised platform on one side of the kitchen — which I can assure you gets regular use.

The laundry room in this house is right off the kitchen, which means laundry gets washed and dried with far greater regularity here (it does not, however, get folded or put away in a timely manner).

And we have a formal dining room here, which I never had before.  Or ever thought I needed, in fact.  Now I kind of like it: although we usually eat breakfast and lunch at the kitchen island, we always use the dining room table for dinners, and we usually end up setting the table much more formally than we would if it was just the kitchen.  It’s kind of fun to use the place mats and chargers on a regular basis.

It’s been interesting adjusting to a new kitchen, but I’ve learned some things I like even more than what I had in D.C., and I really, really appreciate the amount of cabinet space we left behind and will probably never again take that for granted.

What do you love about your kitchen?  What would you change?

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Also, here’s my D.C. kitchen after the movers took all our stuff, and this is my UK kitchen when the movers delivered our furniture.


 

Cooked

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There is a new 4-part documentary called COOKED coming out next week on Netflix created by Michael Pollan, who is pretty much my hero.

Here’s the synopsis:

Explored through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – Cooked is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Highlighting our primal human need to cook, the series urges a return to the kitchen to reclaim our lost traditions and to forge a deeper, more meaningful connection to the ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves.

You guys, I cannot wait to watch this.

Food is so, so important, and the quality of food you put into your body is just as important, if not more important, than the quantity.  Good food nourishes, builds, strengthens.  Crappy food tears you apart from the inside out.  Every bite of food you take matters.

I try, very hard, to prepare most of what my family eats from scratch.  Although it’s not hard to do, It’s not always easy.  It is, however, always worth it. 

I’ve really, really fallen off the cooking wagon in the last few months.  Blame it on moving, busy schedules, my fear of grocery shopping when we first got to England, but whatever the reason, it happened.  I’ve been thinking lately of how much I need to get back into the routine of cooking, because when I’m doing it more often, it seems so much easier and more fun.  I know watching this documentary will be a great reminder of just why it’s so important.

I’m already looking up recipes and getting excited about getting back into the kitchen.

What is your favorite thing to cook?  Everyone has at least one!

 

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