who will cook?  not me…  is generally the answer most would gravitate to… it was my 38th birthday yesterday and I’m not exactly sure what age it hit me at that I would cook… and enjoy cooking…  but it didn’t begin that way…

when I first met the farmer at college, I was 19 and had no desire to cook…  I did not care about healthy food and I had absolutely no skills relating to the kitchen… (my skill set was pretty limited to tell the truth – hard to really say exactly what I was skilled at… unless watching tv is a skill)

add to that the fact that I am a feminist and part of the reason I did not want to cook was the stigma of the woman’s role is in the kitchen…  so I didn’t want to end up in there…

so when I fell in love with the farmer and moved to a town of 350 people and no fast food or restaurant options, I didn’t realize the cooking learning curve I would be on…

I was 20, newly married and no dishwasher, when his grandmother came to my house and handed me all of her ‘meal to the field’ dishes and told me she was happy to be done with them…

this is when I realized one of my roles in our farming adventure would be cooking half of the meals for the farmers in seeding and harvest…

I hated it…  I was not interested in food and found it all very overwhelming… (and it was significantly cutting into the time I could spend watching Young and the Restless and Passions)

I had two very good examples of cooks in my life – the farmer’s mother and her mother – who I thought were miracle workers in the kitchen…  they both had giant gardens, an ability to pull a meal together with zero dishes in sight and made the meal an exciting part of the day…

but I was still young and started having kids and felt like breakfast, lunch, dinner and meals to the field were a nuisance and a never ending, exhausting job I wish someone else would do for me…

(these lentils by the way are courtesy of our farm!)

what changed everything for me was Pioneer Woman…  Ree Drummond’s blog changed my life…

her bio is even similar to mine…  she grew up on the seventh hole of a golf course…  she fell in love with a farmer (rancher)

and what she did for me was taught me how to love farming…  love the art and soul of it… this whole new world of seeing life in the middle of no where as exciting, artistic, adventure filled and peaceful spoke to me…

not only did it show me I could cook – but I could fall in love with my life of cooking, cleaning, raising kids and farming…

my suggestion if you do not enjoy cooking – fake it till you make it…  find some beautiful blogs or cookbooks, convince yourself you enjoy the process of cooking and see what happens…

there are so many options for food in our modern society today that cooking has become optional… if we are going to cook, it has to be because we want to…

we have to believe that it is important, pleasurable and necessary for our overall health and happiness…

sure enough, without even really noticing the change, I began to love to cook…

I could see how happy it made others when I took the time to prepare a meal for them… and it filled me with joy when I could finally make Great-Grandma Swan’s lemon meringue pie…

I realized that it was a form of art – and was also my job…  most importantly, it was the easiest way to give my family and workers a chance at a good day…

a homemade meal is perhaps the best thing to put a little pep in your step and make you feel content…

it is the time that people gather to tell each other about their day… I learned that it is my way of giving what I can to nourish my family and make others happy…

I put out of my mind the dishes and drudgery and instead see it as my contribution to this world…   the ease of packaged foods is so alluring but does not feed the body or soul the way home cooking does…

some days – like on my birthday – I like to splurge and make it more complicated… other days, like when you have to be at three different baseball diamonds, it needs to be simple and nutritious…

but it always involves a bit of a grocery plan, a bit of a prep plan and if you learn to embrace this as a process that gets you to a great meal every night then it starts to seem worth it…

having kids and farming were my husbands idea…  cooking has been my idea… it does take time – I still can’t make sourdough bread…  but I know that dedicating a certain part of your life to cooking is not time wasted…  

I do wonder how many hours of my 38 years have been spent in the kitchen…  when I feel like I was the least likely person to end up there in the first place…  

here’s to many more years spent in the kitchen…

vegetable lentil salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4” thick coins
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2” thick slices
  • 2 small red peppers, cut into 1/2” squares
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 2-3 cups cooked red lentils

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  • cut up all the salad ingredients
  • in a Vitamix, add all ingredients for dressing and blend
  • pour in the vegetable oil while blending – you should get around 1 cup of dressing
  • in a steamer, add the carrots and cauliflower first for 3 minutes
  • add the rest of the vegetables (not the spinach)
  • place spinach in a big bowl with lentils
  • add the steamed vegetables and pour on the dressing
  • serve immediately