Whether I’m mindlessly kneading dough or trying a new recipe, cooking is great therapy for me. Writing is cathartic, and I love the cleansing it offers my heart but cooking excites my soul. Cooking brings me closer to the food I eat and to those with whom I share it. I think that’s what makes cooking such a joy for me. Now, if I could only get that same feeling from cleaning up. I did have a friend who told me about his parents doing dishes together after the evening meal. It was a special time that always ended with a dance. That is the most beautiful expression of love I’ve ever heard:)
My mama was an amazing cook, and food was always a source of sweet comfort in our home. We ate at very specific times, and we were all gathered at the table waiting when daddy came home each evening. Daddy finished work at five, came straight home, washed his hands, and expected the food and us to be ready when he sat down. No matter how simple the fare, it was always delicious. I believe mama could make cardboard taste great.
Grandmother Banning spent several months out of the year with us, and she always drank a big glass of water with her meals. She believed in drinking lots of water, and she believed in the power of beets. Every time we had them, she would try to convert my sister Linda who said beets tasted like dirt and wouldn’t eat them. I loved them, ate them heartily, and preached their goodness right along with Grandmother. I still think of Lilly Belle when I have beets, and that’s very often:)
Eating together is a wonderful way to connect, and conversation complements all food. I love eating with Mylah and Lillyann because we have the sweetest talks at the table. Lillyann loves to talk; I can’t imagine where she might get that trait:) Mylah jumps right in and tries to follow along. Lillyann and I both noted that she understands all we say; she just can’t find the words to interact yet. It won’t be long before she will be the one doing most of the talking, and I look forward to hearing all she has to say. There’s nothing that blesses me more than fixing food for them and watching them enjoy it. I know just how mama felt about that. I especially love it when Lillyann feeds Mylah, and they love it too. That’s what I call a bless-bless situation.
Mama loved cooking and prepared something special for every meal. I woke each morning to the sweet smells of a wonderful breakfast. That’s a perfect way to start the day, and I didn’t realize how very fortunate I was to have something prepared with love each morning until I left for college. I missed mama’s morning magic and still do. Families don’t get together to eat as they used to, and that’s a shame. There’s a lot to be said for gathering together around the table, and I believe we lose something special as we grab here and go there. I know it causes me to eat more and enjoy it less, and I’m sure others experience the same.
Cooking is creating. I don’t cook as much as mama did, but I do cook when I have time. I made some very simple pumpkin muffins from my Old Salem cookbook yesterday. They were just right and got me in the mood for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin is something I use seasonally and so is turkey. I’m not sure why because I love both. I suppose I’m not the only one who neglects them the rest of the year. Maybe that’s what makes Thanksgiving such a special time.
Cooking brings a flood of wonderful memories that touch my heart and lift my spirit. I miss mama, but I feel her presence each time I make bread or share something I’ve made with others. I thank God for all the love mama gave me, but I especially thank Him for the sweet meals she so lovingly prepared and shared with me. I learned from mama that love is the secret ingredient when it comes to cooking:)