Friday, May 22, 2009

Thanks, Di

During dental school days, I was slowly teaching myself to cook.  As I struggled through my cooking magazines (and Jason struggled through some of my creations), I was always in awe of my friend Di, who seemed to effortlessly throw together amazingly delicious feasts for large groups of people on a moment's notice.  I remember her cooking three varieties of stuffed manicotti one night, making shepherd's pie for our book club discussion of Angela's Ashes, and whipping an apple crisp out of the oven one night when we were just hanging out, watching television together.  

Meanwhile, my adventures in the kitchen were still tedious, drawn-out affairs.  I had to read each recipe about a hundred times during the cooking process.  I could only do one thing at a time.  I had no idea how to time things so that a main course and the side dishes would get done around the same time.  I had no sense, reading a recipe, if the flavors would be good together or not.  I relied heavily on Jason, who came into our marriage knowing more about chopping and cooking.

Fast forward ten years or so.  I can sometimes look in the refrigerator and throw a few things together for dinner without a recipe!  I can take a recipe and modify it so it turns out better, healthier, or easier.  I can do more than one thing at a time in the kitchen, estimate how much to feed a crowd, choose things that go together, and know which flavors belong together.  I haev a stash of favorite recipes that I've tested myself, and I'm always looking for more.  

All of this is just the result of time, practice, and experimenting, and now cooking is something I actually enjoy.  I still think it's ironic that I actually write about my own cooking for a wider audience, though.  In posting my latest recipe at Bodies in Motivation, I thought of Di, and how she inspired me, and how this particular not-a-recipe is really hers, not mine.

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