A couple of days ago I was watching t.v (at my mother-in-law's - we don't have t.v. at this point) and the hosts on a popular Christian program were raving about a new recipe book designed for the "modern busy family" - all meals that could be prepared and served within 15 minutes.
Apparently they all needed a copy and found it to be just about revolutionary, because really, (insert slight sarcasm) who has time in this day and age to spend precious time in the kitchen? (And as a side note, why on earth is everyone so busy anyway! In most cases, don't we have a choice to pare down our schedules?)
Sure, there are those busy days where a quick-fix meal is just the thing, and that's fine, but I can't help but think that our grandparents and great grandparents would shake their heads at all the frozen or already-prepared and packaged meals that end up on the dinner table each night as the norm. Or you know, the t.v. table.
I'm lucky enough to have grown up with a mom who stayed home and enjoyed all the creative aspects of homemaking, including cooking. From a young age she included us in menu planning and meal preparation - from scratch. And normal evenings found us all crowded around the dinner table to a sit-down meal.
Now that I'm married, I'm finding myself in the kitchen a whole lot more than when I lived at home since the what's for dinner question is coming at me rather than from me (Although my husband is not picky and wouldn't mind cooking if I asked him to).
And that has been fine with me - I'm realizing that cooking can be a grout outlet for creativity - trying to use up what's in the fridge, experimenting with new ingredients, learning.
I love being in my kitchen in the early evening - the setting sun floods through our balcony windows, everything is quiet (my husband doesn't get home until 6:00 or so) and I am alone with my thoughts - chopping and mixing and preparing.
Food can be an expression of love - I think about my Dutch grandmother on my mom's side preparing huge suppers for her big family, largely using food they grew themselves. I see my husband's Italian mom loving her sons through the meals she makes - prepared with care and just the way they like it.
And memories are often made up of foods - decorating sugar cookies at Christmas at the kitchen table, melted cheese on crackers and "tea-milk" after a cold afternoon of tobogganing, warm stew and biscuits around the table with the family on a crisp autumn night.
Recipes passed on like heirlooms, flavors remembered - my husband says he's never had tomato sauce as good as the homemade stuff his grandmother in Italy makes.
I can't help but think that we would all be a lot better off if we cut out the unnecessary things that steal our minutes away and spend just a little more time in the kitchen chopping garlic, so to speak.