I Got A Hand For You…

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When I began writing this blog, local, seasonal food wasn’t on everyone’s radar, but it was on mine. It was how I planned menus, shopped and cooked, and I had a lot of information and passion that I wanted to share with others. The food world has changed since I began blogging; local and seasonal food has gone mainstream. Restaurants use those terms to attract diners, dozens of cookbooks have been published, and chefs on television recommend using seasonal, local products to viewers. It’s still the way I cook, most of the time, but the realities of life sometimes make compromise necessary, and even desirable.

The same could be said for home-cooked meals. Most of the time, I cook our meals from scratch, at home. Sometimes, I get some help from canned, frozen and pre-cooked foods, sometimes we eat at restaurants, and sometimes we have a take-out meal at home. I realize the uniqueness of my situation; I love to cook, actually have to cook for my own sanity, and I have had time to build my cooking and planning skills so the process has become efficient, joyful and rewarding. Not everyone has this blessing of time. Many parents must work long hours to support the lives their families are living, and this definitely has an effect on what these families eat. Heck, it has an effect on what my own family eats, if I’ve had a really long day out of the house, or not gotten enough sleep, or am depressed, or or or or…

Home cooking is experiencing an exciting resurgence, but recently, there have been some downright surly responses to the calls for more cooking at home. Two of them are here, and here. You can click on the “here”s to read them, but be warned, these two moms are really bitter about the subject. An excellent rebuttal is here, by Michael Ruhlman, a vocal proponent of home cooking who walks his talk by prolifically producing cookbooks specifically meant to get people cooking.

Permit me a momentary sociological rant: Our current society has become very intense. Everyone Must Know How To Do Everything, and must be The Best at Everything They Do, with no room for error, experimentation, or creativity. The mere suggestion that cooking at home is healthier and less expensive than eating pre-packaged or take-out meals is seen through this intense lens as 1) a challenge to produce chef-quality meals each and every night, that will please all family members, in 30 minutes or less, or 2) a criticism of the compromises we all sometimes must make for the sake of happy family life. Neither is meant or implied, and neither view is mentally healthy. Our kitchens are not reality TV shows, and no one deserves to be judged. Enough already, I say. We are all in this together, life is complex and messy and enormous, and we can only solve this conundrum by helping each other. Instead of pointing our fingers and accusing, “What about you?”, what if we start holding out our hands, and inviting, “How about you?”

So here’s where I hold out my hand. I invite you to cook more often at home, and I want to help you make home cooking simpler, more efficient, and more joyful in your kitchen, with simple recipes, techniques and advice from my kitchen, a place that is almost never clean, but is always full of food that brings me and my family joy. Do you have to be The Best Home Cook Ever? No. Will you have more fun in your kitchen? Hopefully. Will I judge you? I have better things to do. Let’s take a walk together, walk the road a while. I got a hand for you…

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