As many of you know, food is my love, actually food is my passion. It comes in so many forms. For the most part,my days are consumed with feeding my family and not always 'Dinner Parties' and 'Cooking Classes'! Recently I was in Minneapolis teaching a class and was making 'Lamb Follain' (Follain is the Irish word for wild or wholesome) During this class a gentleman from the front row commented that my husband must be a lucky man ! Of course,he assumed that my husband was indeed being served this food on a daily basis and this man was ready to leave his wife for me !
Not so fast ! I quckly corrected him,and explained that he doesn't receive this food on a daily basis. My family get 'Shepherds Pie', 'Stews'and of course the infamous Take Out'as I have two very active boys and cannot be in the kitchen all the time.
What they do get however, as an ingredient,is me.
To some this may sound a little trite, but I have never been more serious in my life. When you put yourself 'into' something it is always better.You can just taste it.All that matters to me is that the people eating it enjoy it.
Yesterday morning,I decided to start dinner at 8am because I had a busy day ahead which included reading a book that afternoon (reason for this blog post)collecting the kids from school, basketball practise,conference call with New York oh and did I mention that my husband was out of town, wish the gentleman from the front row could have been with me !
In making my 'Shepherds Pie' yesterday morning, I needed black pepper. I had run out so ,when refilling my mill, I got a little carried away. I purchase my black pepper in bulk as I use it constantly,(even my 12 year old is a pepper mill freak) When emptying the pepper corns into the mill, I spilled many. I decided to look through my hoard of empty jars and look for one that would hold them instead of the utilitarian container it came in. The visual filled me with such pleasure. I tell you this because even the seemingly mundane task of filling a peppermill can be something more for me.I loved to see the array of peppercorns layered in my new jar!Do what you love. When you do what you love,I think you do it well.
So, the book. Yes the book. I am going to New York next week and through a friend I was introduced to a lady by the name of Lauren Braun Costello. This is a lady I have not met ,but I feel like I know her well. She was the owner and Executive Chef of Gotham Caterers in New York, Recipe tester for the 75th anniversary edition of 'Joy Of Cooking',culinary producer,food stylist and so on. Her accolades are many.
Yesterday I picked up and read in it's entirity her book 'Notes On Cooking'
I sat in the coffee shop by myself,watched the world go by and read her book cover to cover .This book does not contain recipes ."Notes on Cooking is an essential primer of immediately useful and utterly relevant guidance that can help anyone become a better cook-without a single recipe" as it says in the inside jacket.
Note #16 was it for me "Don't TRY to be different" I love this and live this. Referring to openeing sentence regarding passion,when you are also doing what you believe you really never need to be'on' so to speak.
Why did I waffle along about my peppermill earlier? As I sat there with my coffee I came to #17 "Embrace The Mundane". Lauren tells us to "not bemoan the pedestrian tasks.Find pleasure in peeling a carrot,steaming rice,searing a steak,prepping,cleaning"
CLEANING,CLEANING??!! When I had finsihed preparing my dinner yesterday,I cleaned my countertops with 'Dettol'. For any Irish people reading this,you will know this trusty cleaner all too well! I find it in the import stores and costs more than a bottle of wine,but gives me huge pleasure! It reminds me of the home I grew up in.Quite literally,I inhale the fresh clean smell as I go,igniting my senses.
Our senses reward us when we allow them to. Lauren's book not only made me realise that it was perfectly ok to be excited about peppercorns and a bottle of Dettol! There are 192 notes in this book, and 16 & 17 did this for me,imagine what they can do for you..............I urge you to reward yourself by reading her book.