Home-Cooked Love

It’s a cooking day. Meaning, I am cooking dinner for my brother and family. It’s one of my commitments during this very stressful time for them as they deal with chemo and doctor visits for Jesse. We’ve all been in that place where we don’t know what to do to help make things better. I decided I can cook.

Sebastian, Jesse, and Raymond on the Fourth of July

I like to cook but summertime is actually not my favorite time to spend in the kitchen. I mean…it’s hot! And having the stove and/or oven running for hours just steams up the house, and me. I also get a little menu challenged. When cooking for just Billy and me I can cook two chicken breasts and a couple of quick sides, like rice and broccoli, and call it dinner. My husband is the most compliant eater in the world. He will eat anything and NEVER, EVER complain. (Yes, I’m lucky) But when cooking for someone else I feel I must be a little more creative. Y’all, the pressure!

I’m not sure why I feel like I need to whip up my best Rachel Ray, but again, it goes back to their situation. While life is throwing them a lot of crummy stuff I want to provide a little something to look forward to. Food is the most basic of needs, but it’s absolutely true that it can be a comfort in times of stress. Who hasn’t reached for the ice cream when things spin out of control? My friend, Courtney, used to use the “pan of brownies” method. When the craziness was peaking she found comfort in whipping up a batch. I can remember her saying, “I know things are better because I haven’t needed a pan of brownies.” In her defense, this was in our young wife and Mom days when we didn’t need to watch the scale or our A1C levels quite so closely. Sigh, those were great days….

Anyway, I have been reaching into my recipe trove to come up with some different things to cook. I am the owner of LOTS cookbooks. Back in the day I was the Cookbook Co-Chairwoman for the Cobb-Marietta Junior League in Marietta, Georgia. (Hands down the best cookbooks are from Junior Leagues and churches.) And like any good southern girl I have a plastic tub full of recipe clippings from Southern Living, and these days, Gun and Garden. I’ve been taking a bit of a walk down memory lane by culling through recipes that were once staples in my repertoire but now have too much butter or salt or Velveeta or cream of chicken soup for today’s “fresh” cooking. (But, boy those dishes were yummy. And if you are not familiar with Velveeta well…bless your little heart!) And I’m finally taking a look at the 3679 recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest.

I haven’t gone too wild since I’m only cooking for two men and one little boy, who only eats pizza and box mac ‘n cheese. And I’m only aiming to take food twice a week, figuring they can manage with some leftovers. But I’ve realized that I need to commit a whole day to the process! Basically, I’m doubling everything to also provide my husband a meal or two, yet it seems to QUADRUPLE the time it takes to prepare. The chopping, the mixing, the baking, and the cleaning just overwhelms. Silly though it sounds, my kitchen looks like a war zone and I’m flat worn out by the time I’m done. After a few weeks of this I’m trying to find smarter, faster ways to turn out these meals, digging out the crockpot and electric skillet that have been lolling in the cabinet. Yesterday I menu-planned and shopped for all our meals for this week, rather than the usual daily running in and out of the grocery store. I used to cook more like this when I had kids at home, but empty nesting leads to slacker habits. In other words, I’m having a cooking renewal! Oh joy.

The ridiculous mess I make in my kitchen on cooking day!

Actually, I AM trying to be JOYFUL in this process. I am trying to focus on the WHY of my efforts. Raymond, Jesse, and Sebastian are in a place of crisis. I don’t want them to be there alone. I can’t fix what is happening to them. I’m not a doctor or a nurse or counselor. I’m just the sister/sister-in-law/aunt. But I can prepare and deliver a bunch of home-cooked love….still warm, wrapped in foil, including rolls and dessert. It’s a culinary hug from me. Oxox

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