Cooking has always been unobtrusive therapy for me. I love escaping into the quiet, bright openness of the room, usually with Pandora radio or WEVL playing in the background. If it’s the morning, I have a mug of hot coffee or tea in my hand as I stir. In the evening, wine, if I’m lucky. I like to lay all the ingredients out on the counter tops so they don’t get lonely as I transport them one by one to their bath of steam or butter or olive oil, sizzling all the way. There is something blissfully monotonous in the creation of a recipe, something warm and welcoming that I can get lost in, like the continual soft needing of a ball of dough, or the beating of egg yolks in sugar into that amazing lemon yellow color. And it always helps to have a house full of recipe testers at my disposal. I read cookbooks like novels, but much prefer to leave them on the shelf (or my bedside table) when I enter my workspace, relying on intuition, acquired knowledge, random impulses, and a slightly askew sense of creativity to be my guides.
However: my friend recently married (and, side note, gave birth to the cutest kid in the universe, whom I get to play with) and received this book as one of her wedding gifts (to which I remarked, why is it only married couples who get awesome household gifts? to which her husband responded “throw a house warming party” to which I responded “…Oh…”) and since she put it in my hands I have not put it down (and dreamt of beef stew last night).
Anyway, all this to say that I know exactly how I will be spending my spare time in the coming weeks. Fall is slowly encroaching on us, the perfect time for homemade breads and slow-cooked stews. Bittman even includes a section on how to make your own cheeses and yogurts, which I am bursting with excitement to try. I’ve never been a crafty person, or someone who can make pottery or paint (though I’ve always wished I could), but I believe that cooking can be as equally as artistic an endeavour, from the the stress-relieving, screw-the-world-I’m-in-my-zone process to the final palatable product. I don’t actually own this book yet (catch the sutble hint, family? Kidding.), but I plan to absorb as much as humanly possible in the next five days, before I venture home to Tennessee (where, I will, most likely, buy this book and then sleep with it under my pillow).