Wednesday, October 4

The Joy of ... a good kitchen

Not to be picky, but if your body is a temple, surely your kitchen is a divine location of sorts.

The source of nurture on occasion as well as nourishment, the kitchen holds the building blocks of our determination, our inspiration, and our dedication. When you eat real food, it doesn't come in a fastfood bag... it comes from the kitchen.

Yesterday I paid my housekeeper/friend a whole lotta money to--while I was working--'deal with' my kitchen in more than the ordinary way. The endless odd plastic containers DH has collected we either threw away or, in the case of a couple dozen half gallon coffee containers, tossed in the backyard garden for seed starting or whatever. Every pan and utensil that had rust (!) on it, we threw away. Every appliance got cleaned, the appliance & lowcarb shelves got cleaned, all the cabinets got wiped out, many of their dishes got rewashed, and so on. It's not done. Well that part is, but there is more. But it's a great start. By the time I finally got back to the kitchen (at nearly midnight when I returned with groceries) it was looking downright CLEAN for the first time since I mistakenly, in my single mom exhaustion, handed it over to the SO, who is becoming more the IO by the day.

I still have a massive fridge-freezer cleanout to do, and big table/counter cleanup, and some shelves I want to get rid of -- I have to walk sideways to get in my kitchen. This is going to stop. -- and the spice cabinet, but I'm not picky. Already it is a place where I actually WANT to prepare food. Unlike the last couple weeks of avoidance, now finally, it's FUN to be in there!

This leads me to more armchair theorizing. We generally avoid stuff we aren't fond of, even subconsciously. And I'm starting to think that the degree of respect that we have for what we eat shows, not only in what we buy and what we eat, but also in how we prepare it.

Recently on a lowcarb forum a woman was saying that prior to lowcarb, she was obsessed with food, ate all the time, and that LC had saved her from that, made her full all the time, killed the carb addict cycle, etc. I found that interesting, because with me, it is just the opposite. I've never really even cared about food. If it's in front of me and I like the taste I'll eat it. If it's not, I won't eat. I've never respected food, I am realizing. I hardly even paid attention to it. If I had food, I scarfed it down with barely a shred of notice, while programming usually, or on the way somewhere, or standing in the kitchen. If me and food had a 'relationship', you might say I severely took it for granted as a result, treated it very poorly.

The idea of actually planning a yummy meal, and preparing that meal, and sitting down and really ENJOYING that meal, is something I haven't even considered in... well, since my mid 20's when I lived alone (the only period of my life I've lived alone).

And a nice kitchen is part of that. I just realized how many cool versions of baking pans I have, like muffin pans but in tons of shapes and sizes and molds. I forgot! They've all been up on an unreachable shelf for a year and a half. Now suddenly I see them and I think of all the great recipes I've seen online that could be made in them. I was eyeing my rotisserie, my deep fryer, my yogurt maker, my ice cream machine, my food processor, my dehydrator, and more appliances, all of which were covered with dust from disuse (many never used at all, bought in the last 1.5 years), now which are gleaming white on the white 'appliances' shelf just outside the kitchen, and I was thinking: gosh, so many great things to make! I bet the kid would love this, and that! And wouldn't it be great to make this other thing for thanksgiving, so the diabetics in my stepmom's family would have something yummy they could eat? And imagine doing this or that as a treat for the kids' classroom! And I could invite my parents to dinner and make -- oooh, yum!

There is some part of me that feels like cleaning and organizing my kitchen, is cleaning and organizing a part of myself and my life on a larger and deeper scale as well (sort of a Feng Shui result). Much like the ritual of prayer, it's a small thing on the outside, but a galaxy of meaning on the inside.

Tonight I have planned a chicken and spaghetti-squash primavera dinner, with a small side salad with avocado and pecan and homemade blue cheese dressing, some corn on the cob for the kid and dh, and if I have time, some zucchini cobbler-ettes (that's the stuff that tastes amazingly like apple pie) for dessert. I'm excited to make it, it'll be fun to have the kid help me, and I think eating it will be awesome.

Now I am realizing: I don't have a table! The dining area is taken over by DH's computer testing station and ebay inventory. The other 2/3 of the living/dining room are split between he and my workstations. My dining table is in the small kitchen pretending to be a counter. The only room for even the smallest table for eating would have to be outside!

It seems dysfunctional to me that we don't have any place to eat! It reminds me of that movie "Mermaids" (Cher, Winona Ryder, Christine Ricci) where the dysfunctional single mom makes nothing but finger foods and they all eat while sitting on counters and whatever. The first time they really sit down at a table for a family dinner, with her new boyfriend, it's wonderful, and she realizes abruptly that he is 'making them a family' (and flips out, feeling threatened).

I wonder if on some level this relates to our rather un-family situation. That we don't have a family table or anywhere that we can sit down and 'be together'. Probably.

But enough psychoanalysis. Back to the kitchen. I cleaned off the rolling cart-thing for food prep, and now it actually stores lots of useful stuff at hand. Last night while shopping I also got a couple new pans and tools (to replace those icky that we tossed) and some cooling racks. And two nifty rectangle wooden trays (molded a bit bowl-like but flat at bottom) I thought were really nifty, that I thought would be cool for holding food instead of a normal plate and less likely to spill (given our lack of table) for wettish foods. And I think I have finished shopping finally. I got all the stuff we were missing (basic kitchen stuff, we were out of like everything!) and lots of stuff for cooking.

Now I have to figure out what to do with the butternut squash I decided to buy and look for some moderate-carb recipe for as a side dish; is there a way to make it sweetish, I wonder. I'm starting to look at veggies, given we have a major garden, and think, "What can I grow that I could eat?" That would surely save money!

It's kind of exciting. It's like a whole new interest in life.... FOOD! And a great part of that is now thanks to having a clean, organized kitchen I want to get creative in.

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