Sometimes I find myself super sensitive about my cooking. I need the chill out. I know this, but you can tell yourself to relax all you want, and it not work. This week, I’ve been feeling super sensitive. Part of it is probably just pandemic stress. We all have it, and it manifests in a variety of forms. Part of it is also probably just that time of the month. I know we women are not supposed to admit that is the reason for our moods, but in my case, I notice a very distinct mood shift that happens. Without getting too personal, I had a partial hysterectomy 16 years ago, so my only symptoms are moodiness and sore boobs. Trust me, this is better than before the surgery, but it is still noticeable.
For example, I ask my husband if he would like eggs Benedict or some other fancy breakfast in the middle of the week because, you know, we’re still quarantining in our home, and he answers that I should just keep it simple, or that he isn’t that hungry. Normally, this is a perfectly acceptable response, but this week, I take it as he hates my cooking and no one appreciates all my efforts to keep variety in our meals, so I boycott cooking altogether for a day. Okay, I really only made it through the breakfast hour. But you can see what I am getting at here. My husband thinks he is saying “you don’t have to go to so much trouble for us” and I hear “I don’t like the thing that you like to do most for us.. It’s not healthy, and I later realize it and then I spend a couple of hours chastising myself for acting like a petulant child.
Anyway, for me cooking is my way to relieve stress. So even if my husband sometimes finds me crazy and feels like I’m working too hard, I have to keep cooking for me. Yes, I love sharing the food with my family, and I’ll make dishes specifically because it’s someone’s favorite or because I think they’ll really love some combination. But at the end of the day, the cooking is for me. It’s my way of expressing myself. It’s my way of escaping whatever stress, anger, or other negative emotion is trying to takeover. Even when I appear totally stressed (usually because I have decided to take on some crazy idea like 3 different types of homemade ravioli and 2 different homemade sauces or the like), I feel better in my kitchen or at my grill than almost anywhere else these days.
However, with summer here, my cooking options feel more limited. I firmly refuse to use my oven if it is over 70 degrees outside. Luckily, I live in Chicago, so we get many days that are not, and our summer is pretty short compared to where I grew up in the South. However, since my latest cooking craze has been all about baking, mostly breads, I have to adjust. Did you know that you can basically turn a grill into an oven? A grill can be a grill, a smoker, a stovetop or an oven. It is the most versatile piece of equipment I think I have ever owned. Mine has mostly been a smoker for the last several years with the occasional grilling. But this summer, I plan to really experiment with that oven concept, and I put a cast iron skillet on it like it was a stovetop for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It’s such a magical device.
I also have an instant pot. Previously, I pretty much thought of an instant pot more like a crockpot. This meant that most dishes I was making it in were pretty heavy dishes. You now, big meaty things like beef stroganoff or corned beef and cabbage or stews. I also used it a lot as a rice or pasta cooker, so those were a little lighter. However, I am discovering that you can make so many things in it. I have the Instapot Duo, so it has the instant pot functions, and it has air-fryer functions. I have baked a couple of loaves of bread and muffins using the baking function on the air-fryer. I’ve also boiled perfect boiled eggs for salads. I have not quite figured out fried chicken that compares to frying in oil in my Dutch oven, but lots of other fried things have worked out pretty well. And I haven’t even really played with that sous vide function yet!
So I guess this blog got a little rambling, but the bottom line is that I am cranky so I need to cook and not take that crankiness out on those around me…especially when they have nowhere to escape to for now. Also, blogging about cooking and my feelings also helps, so thanks for reading.