I have loved to cook since I was young. My mom, grandma and I make the stuffing together every year for Thanksgiving. My dad and I have watched Food Network for as long as I can remember and subsequently tried to recreate the recipes. My grandma and I made cookies together since I was tall enough to reach the counter. Those memories, plus a sheer love of food and food culture, made cooking my obsession – so much so that my biggest escapist daydream is to move away to go to culinary school.
The exhilaration that comes with opening a new cookbook or finding a new recipe. The joy associated with a successful meal made from scratch. The excitement of finding new flavors and learning about the culture they come from. These feelings only heighten each time I cook.
My favorite thing to bake is bread, admittedly because it’s my favorite food. I’ve successfully kept my sourdough starter alive since July of this year and have been practicing my sourdough baking since then. One of my favorite recipes is for honey whole wheat bread that was made (and published) by a treasured member of my family. The recipe makes three whole loaves. I cannot figure out how to successfully divide it, but that only increases the fun. Making this bread connects me to everyone I love who treasures it as well and gives me a reason to share with them – I have to get rid of the extra loaves somehow.
A new recipe that I recently discovered and love is for mushroom bourguignon. It was fun to try an alteration on the standard dish and to make it just right. I also made a few pies over the recent Thanksgiving break and, thanks to Claire Saffitz’s recipe for all-butter pie crust, they were highly successful.
Cooking, for me, is a relaxing and restorative activity. I can find a recipe based on whatever state of mind I’m in and express those emotions through the dish I make. If I’m in a bad mood, I have typically worked through that by the time the meal is ready to eat.
More than that, cooking is a way for me to connect to the things and the people I love. Recipes connect us, and sharing conversation over a good meal is a universal tradition. You can show love with more than words by making a meal specifically for, or inspired by, a certain person.
I’m no top chef, and there are definitely times that I want to pull my hair out while I’m cooking, but I always feel satisfied and successful after I cook. I’ve learned how to express my creativity through cooking by making and altering recipes I find that suit my current frame of mind.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been raised around people who love food and cooking, or perhaps it’s because cooking is so different from what I do for school and work. Either way, cooking has become a hobby that I’m almost entirely certain I will treasure for the rest of my life.