Sunday, January 12, 2014

food for the heart, mind, body and soul

 A lot has happened in two-and-a-half years since I've posted to my blogging world out there. It seems like a lifetime in some ways. We moved to Key West, and I got lost in this island paradise. I got lost and completely found myself all at once. It is truly wonderful to be somewhere that makes me feel completely alive. My love for cooking and nourishing my family was put on the backburner (like the cooking pun?) while I dove into exploring other joys like yoga and paddleboarding (and the amazing combination of the two), discovering amazing new friendships, finding new rewarding jobs, mending and repairing broken hearts... all of it. It's been a journey, as every bit of life is, and it's been one that has taken me temporarily and mysteriously away from my love of cooking. I have discovered that food isn't the only way to nourish my soul. But, lately, when it does, I'm more content helping in the kitchen or having someone do the cooking for me. There are some nights, though, when I absolutely must reach for my favorite chef knife, begin chopping an onion, and cook a nourishing meal for my family or anyone that might eat it.
The following was one of those nights that seem to pop up all too rarely for me lately...

It is past midnight... I never stay up this late anymore. Something is driving me to get my thoughts out tonight to the mysterious online public out there. I'm breaking my two year writing hiatus.
I seem to be seeking refuge in the experience of cooking good food again and in nourishing those I love around me.
I've been cooking since yesterday after work nonstop and I feel like I could keep going without stopping to sleep. What is this? What has gotten into me all of a sudden? Two years without posting about food, or really having the energy to keep up with my love for cooking and nourishing my family and it all seems to be pouring out of me now. Why now?
... my mother. I owe her everything. She has always been the strongest person I've known and now she is facing another battle. One more battle for her to fight (and she has made it through many), and I cannot be there to hold her hand through this one. She is in another country and all I can seem to do is cook, cook, and cook some more. I am offering food to my pregnant friends, friends who have just had a baby, friends that just had surgery... taking food to school... want to come over for dinner? Tonight I cooked three meals. Yes, three meals. Okay, so two of those are soup which is technically a first course of a full meal, but seriously... soup is a one course meal in this case. I have three kids, remember?  My husband will never believe me (unfortunately for him he's out of town right now). My refrigerator is stocked with two different vegetable soups at the moment (potato leek and cream of celery, carrot, and parsnip), a ground turkey and veggie pasta sauce, freshly roasted pumpkin for the kale and pumpkin stuffed shells I'm making tomorrow, and two veggie drawers overflowing with vegetables that could probably add up to at least three more complete meals. Oh, and what's that on my stove? Two big pots... in one I'm soaking white beans for a kale and white bean soup and in the other I have red beans for my traditional Colombian red beans and rice. Yep- don't believe me, do you? Try me. Call me up... ask me for dinner. I dare you. I'll be prepared. But don't do it unless you want this girl to enthusiastically show up on your front step with a Tupperware of food that I've put my complete heart and soul into and can't wait for you to try. I will probably give you some sort of silly instructions that you could have figured out- how to heat it, how it might taste best... just humor me. I've put everything into every bite you're about to take and I'm so stoked to be sharing it with someone I love! Because what is food if you can't share it?
All of this brought me to really think... what nourishes us? I'm up until midnight cooking (and now writing about it) tonight because it nourishes me to think about feeding my kids, my family, my friends.  My children's smiles nourish me. My family nourishes me. My friends' company, smiles, laughter, tears and stories shared nourish me. Love nourishes me. And none of this could have ever been if my own stupendous mother hadn't nourished me with all of these things first. She taught me what to love, what to value, what not to take for granted. Not only that, she taught me how... how to appreciate the important things. She taught me how to eat from the plate of life... figuratively and non-figuratively.
And so, I realize tonight, that it is fitting that this is all coming out of me through this outpouring of meals that I have been cooking since yesterday. I have the need to release things learned, perhaps. Moreso, I have the need to give back and nourish those around me. Because of my mom, I gained a great appreciation and love not only for food and cooking, but for life and taking a real bite out of everything it has to offer... every day. And so I give back in those ways that I can. I may not be by my mother's side every day of this difficult battle, but every day there is a part of me that gives back to the world around me in some way because she taught me to do so.

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