Food has always been the center of my life. Family time usually was always food time as well. My fondest memories usually involve food in some way:
Dinner as a family around our big wooden table every night. Always home cooked by mom. Talking, teasing, laughing, and saying what our “high” and “low” was for the day. Chinese food with close family friends on the weekends. The best veggies you ever tasted, even when they were just canned beans my mom had transformed into a gourmet side dish. Holidays with the fancy napkins and the fancy glasses. Breakfast by dad every Sunday morning with “goose eggs,” because I thought I didn’t like chicken eggs. Always in a dress shirt with his tie stuffed into the breast pocket and an apron on, singing while he cooked. Cheese, crackers and honey, his kitchen staples.
BBQ’s under the wisteria covered pergola in my parents backyard. The purple flowers dropping down through the vines. The breeze blowing the napkins off the table. Fresh salads made with homegrown veggies and one of my moms signature vinaigrette’s. Her “drink,” the most refreshing citrus blend you’d ever taste. Fresh bread I had baked. The best grilled salmon or steak you ever tasted. Bees buzzing. Not enough room on the outside table for all the good food.
Baking oatmeal cookies with my Grandma Windley. Crawling into the back of the cabinet to find the brown sugar. Mixing everything with a hand mixer in the big glass bowl with the pretty blue design. Grinding the nuts with a hand grinder. Cooling the cookies on the cutting board. Watching the birds in the backyard while we ate our masterpieces. Learning the most important dessert lesson: a cake or a pie is delicious, but it is a truly divine experience when paired with some ice cream.
Grandma Galloway’s meatballs and sauce. Laughing so hard and so loud that our lungs almost burst. Eating more than you thought possible because it was just that good. Having your ears ring from the happy cacophony after things calmed down. The lingering smell of sauce in the kitchen the next morning, a subtle reminder of the previous nights festivities. Where I learned that to cook a good meal, you just have to go with your gut. A dash. A squirt. A handful. A bunch. A pinch. Always the best.
There is no joy that cannot be made sweeter with a pie. There is no heartache that cannot be comforted, if only for a small moment, with a warm meal made by loving hands. There is no sunny afternoon that cannot be made brighter with a fresh salad. No bowl of soup that can’t take the chill off a cold day.
This is why I cook.
The kitchen is truly the heart of the home and is one of the places where my soul is happiest.