Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On cooking


I know it's been slow around Red Ramekin lately - fitting, perhaps, for the slow kind of feeling that the end of summer seems to bring.

And really, I have plenty of excuses for avoiding the kitchen. I've been working later, and Jonathan is out of town, meaning that dinners are sometimes had standing by the counter, picking at the odds and ends in the fridge and the pantry. And in true New England fashion, the heat of summer is at its peak. It's been the kind of hot that sits you down and makes you listen.

But the truth is, I haven't been avoiding the kitchen at all. Despite the heat and my temporary solitude, I've found just as many reasons to stand stirring by the stove; to bake frantically at odd hours of the night; to spend hours slicing and mixing and chopping.

I'm not sure I can put my finger on it, exactly, but lately I've been wanting to cook, plain and simple. And I'm not cooking to blog, or to impress, or even to eat, necessarily. Sure, as long as I'm standing by the stove I'll make a quick dinner, but dinner doesn't seem to be the goal, just an incidental output.

I love the quiet isolation of my kitchen; the thick heat of it and the utter silence in which I find myself there. I love coming home and shedding my baggage like a scaly skin, only to find a new energy in whatever project lies ahead. Baking granola, canning peaches, putting away the clean dishes - whatever the task I am ready to tackle it, sleeves rolled and shoes strewn. My day begins again as I heat the oil in the pan. I love the hours spent without speaking, syncing my thoughts to the breath of the knife.

And, though I love the physical demands of my silent kitchen, I am sorry too, that I'm compelled more to do than to write these days. I can't explain my addiction to sweating over pots and burners; to staying planted on my feet until I can feel my pulse in my ankles. But it's there, and its hungry, so I have no choice but to cook.

Last night before coming home, I stopped to pick up another dozen canning jars, inspired by the recipes in this week's New York Times Magazine for brandied peaches. Within minutes, I had three burners going at once; two for the peaches, one for the lentils that served as dinner, eaten in big bites from the wooden spoon. Before I had a chance even to change out of the workday's dress, it was 11pm, and the two peach-filled jars were cooling on the counter, seals stuck and tight.

I managed to snap a few shots of the finished product this morning, before heading out and starting the day. No pictures of marking the fruit with shallow Xs, of blanching it in the big brown pot. No pictures of peeling the skin with scorched fingers and digging into the flesh to dislodge the pits. No pictures of boiling the syrup, simmering the fruits, or processing the cans.

There was no time, after all. I was too busy cooking.

1 comment:

Alejandra said...

What a beautiful post. This is exactly how I feel at the end of the (work) day. I love the silence of the kitchen. The freedom of not having to answer people or send any emails. Just cooking and stirring and chopping.