Reflections From the Plate

It’s been a little over four months since I started writing Our Life in Meals, and it’s begun to take on a life of its own. Initially I thought I would write about the dishes my husband Jan cooked while I sipped wine and took notes. But I wasn’t sitting on the sidelines long before I felt a strong desire to participate. Now I’m doing brazen things like picking and choosing which recipe steps to ignore and demanding more than a two foot wide space of kitchen countertop. Gutsy, I know.

The challenge. The very process of writing a blog should be painless. Publishing software makes it easy to broadcast thoughts with a few keystrokes. But for me, this was outside my comfort zone. I wasn’t sure if writing about my life, even if centered only on a culinary theme, was revealing too much. Also, I’d be sharing personal stories on the assumption that people would actually want to read them, and that seemed a bit presumptuous to me.

I guess you could say I came into this hesitantly. I’d tried writing a blog before, but found that I quickly ran out of ideas for writing material. But food was another story. Jan was passionate about cooking and loved experimenting with food. While my kitchen skills left much to be desired, I was always looking for new creative outlets. Since both eating and cooking make up a big part of our lives, I figured if I ran out of food-related topics, I was in trouble.

So I finally turned down the over-analyzer dial (yes, that happens sometimes!), set aside my reservations and forged ahead. And I’ve been enjoying myself so much that I’ve taken leaps forward without really noticing. I’ve become less guarded and more adventurous. By researching and practicing recipes, I’ve gained food knowledge and cooking confidence. Eager to develop new material, Jan has developed an enthusiasm for writing recipes, and has firmly latched onto his new rock-solid excuse to shop for ingredients and kitchen gear.

Looking back, it seems natural that this happened. We both grew up in homes where meals were made from scratch and TV dinners were only fun things we got to do at friends’ houses. In our own home today, cooking has become our form of entertainment, what we look forward to at the end of the day, and what we remember when we travel. We are frugal (my nice word for what we really are: cheap!) and think the meals we eat at home are just as good as what we’d get in a restaurant, so why not do it our way and spend less money in the process?

In Our Life in Meals, I hope a few themes come across loud and clear. Jan and I are not master chefs (and we’d never claim to be), but I’d like to think we’re experts on a few things, like living life to the fullest, especially when it comes to food, and having fun.

Second, that it’s not all about the food. Even though this blog revolves around cooking and eating, it’s still more about the experience than getting a dish just right. Food is a part of life for everyone, and it’s a lot more fun to eat it than turn up your nose (something I am still guilty of doing). I wanted this project to feel inclusive, not the opposite, and to encourage others to lead a rich food life. The picture at the top of this post is a great example of this fearless attitude. If you want French fries and ketchup with your bacon-wrapped filet mignon, stop worrying about it being the right way to eat something, do it!

What now? Our Life in Meals started as an experiment. With not much of a plan, I intended to write and see what happened. I’ll admit, I come from a long line of enthusiastic project-starters whose grand plans can sometimes lose steam midway. Even with the best intentions, I figured this scenario was a possibility. I might quickly run out of topics and this blog would get filed away somewhere between my half-finished paintings and abandoned sewing projects.

But I have more ideas than ever, certainly more than I have time to write about. And I have no desire to slow down, in fact, I feel more emboldened than ever. My first post chronicled a brave first step overcoming an aversion to oysters (An open mind, and mouth, for oysters), while another focused on mastering a feared cooking technique (A glorious truce with eggplant). I’ve since let go of some of my own rules and hang-ups (Well that’s just peachy: Ice cream machine update) and perfected a dish I thought was impossible to duplicate (All problems solved with a bit of fried cheese). And I’ve got big plans for what I want to do next.

With so many foods, cuisines, and methods to be wary of, I’m lucky it’s a whole big world out there. Undaunted, it’ll take a while to get through them all.

8 thoughts on “Reflections From the Plate

  1. I was very confused after reading your most recent post. I didn’t know where your propensity to have “unfinished projects” came from. For a moment I felt guilt for setting a bad example, but then I put that out of my mind and then blamed your lovely mother. DAD

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