I get out of sorts when I'm away from my base. It's not that I don't enjoy vacations -- I do. But there's something missing on most vacations that I feel to my core.
I miss my kitchen.
Not necessarily my kitchen, but any kitchen. I miss the simple act of preparing food. The chopping, the sautéing. The making of a big mess I don't have to clean (thank you, Lee).
The kitchen is where I work out my issues. Sometimes I take out my aggression of the day on some innocent pieces of chicken as I pound them flat. There are few things as satisfying as punching down dough after the first rising. Most often though, the kitchen is where I go to get happy. Dinner prep involves throwing on a playlist, bopping and dancing and I peel and chop.
I'm not one for grand plans or schemes, except in the kitchen. The more time I spend away from it, the more I realize that it is where I dream. In the kitchen, big things seem doable. Achievable.
Last month, between celebrations, eye surgery and a conference, I was out of my kitchen a lot. Too much. This week I found my way back. The day we got home from vacation I rummaged and poked around. I realized that while we didn't have much fresh food in the house, I had enough stuff in the pantry and freezer to make Lee's favourite pasta sauce (he'd eat a bowlful of that on its own if you would let him). That first meal... that felt like being home.
We have a rule when we go grocery shopping -- either of us can make as many impulse buys as we want as long it's fresh produce. That's how a basket of peaches and a bag of cherries fell into our cart. We had no plans for them but as I'm fond of saying, we're never going to eat fresh veg and fruit if we don't buy it. So yesterday I sat down with one of my cookbooks knowing there would be something in there to make. Stone-fruit jam. Just 3 cups of fruit. Perfect.
I'm not a chef. I'm not a great cook. I'm a solidly decent home cook. When I try really hard and pay attention to what I'm doing I'm a decent baker. While there are times when I need to get out of the house and eat something that I did not prepare, I enjoy being in the kitchen.
The kitchen is where I find my centre.