Cooking is the most loving gift you can give yourself and your family: by cooking you are showing love, affection and giving yourself and others the gift of health (if you choose healthy meals that is). Back in the day, eating out, or ordering out, was not an option. People had way too many kids and they did not have the financial means to eat out as much as we now do. Restaurants weren't as accessible. Consequently, people were healthier and shared more meals together. This had all kinds of positive implications. Even for the people doing the cooking. The satisfaction of "nurturing" your family, and knowing exactly what they are eating, was, and still is, important to most parents.
The origin of the word NURTURE comes from Middle English-Old French 'noureture' meaning nourishment, based on the Latin word 'nutrire' meaning TO FEED AND CHERISH. Coincidence? I think not. In this crazy busy world of ours, I think we have gone ahead and gotten our priorities all mixed up...maybe, just putting it out there. Is there anything more important than 'nurturing' our families? This could be your kids, your spouse, your aging parents...Could there be a better expression of affection and love than NURTURING them (also known as, COOKING for them)? Again, I think not. And the same thing applies to you. If you live by yourself, shouldn't you NURTURE yourself, love yourself and cook for yourself? Having said that, I try to keep my meals down to 15 minutes prep and 15 minutes cooking, not bad right?
So now that I have guilt-tripped you here are all the reasons why cooking is actually good for YOU, the cook. So whether you are a dad, a mom, a spouse, the child of an aging or ill-parent, a roommate, or you live by yourself, cooking should be that thing you do at the end of the day (or during the day, depending on your schedule) for YOU. Kind of like going to the gym. It should be on your to-do-list. Maybe you don't do it everyday, but you know you should do it at least 3-4 times per week because it is GREAT for your body, your mind and you feel darn good after doing it! I am back to College to finish off my Culinary Arts Diploma (finally), and I realized that I am a lot calmer than usual (I am not calm...). As I am an astute person (tooting my own horn here) I quickly realized that being in the kitchen 4 hours-per-day, 5 days-a-week, was having a major impact on my emotional well-being. But why? Well, let's see. I spend a few of those hours chopping veggies. This repetitive motion requires body concentration, but my mind quickly drifts-off into a state of, yes, 'nirvana". I have never been very good at meditation, my day is just too busy and my mind is just too overactive...but when I am cooking, while my body is busy, my mind quiets down. When I am washing the million pots, pans and dishes we go through in a session (because conveniently the heavy-duty dishwasher broke at the College), my mind again goes into a state of perfect peace. Same thing happens when making a sauce and stirring a pot. These calm, repetitive motions, have something to do with that. And I am not even talking about how good you feel when you see the finished product or the look of satisfaction on the faces of the people you are feeding.
Cooking is an art. It unleashes your creative juices, and like any art, there is no right or wrong. Improvisation often leads to the best results. Experimenting is almost always surprisingly delightful and practice does make "perfect" (if that's at all possible in the kitchen). The great thing about cooking and flavors is that if you put too much of one ingredient, there's another one to balance it out. It is a challenge and a reward all at once. Ever wonder why kids love to cook and bake so much? Ever wonder if maybe we just don't encourage it enough? As it seems, we are actually born with an innate ability and passion for cooking, but somewhere down the line those two are squandered (meaning wasted).
If I haven't convinced you yet, let's talk money. Cooking even the most expensive foods like organic, free-range and gourmet, is always cheaper in the long run than eating out (think right now but also think medical bills later on in life). I have told you that I use food as my medicine. You can do the same. Remember when your grandma gave you chicken soup when you were sick (that probably wasn't Campbell's from a can), it was the good homemade chicken broth full of all the nutrients that we need when soothing a cold or flu. Each and every condition has a culinary recipe for it. Test me on this one. But as you have probably heard more than once, prevention is the best medicine. If for nothing else, cook healthy so that you and your loved ones don't get sick. Period. Know what you are eating. DON'T JUST EAT (as it now says on every door of every restaurant).