Friday, July 28, 2006

Slow Cooked

I haven't had much to post about lately. I guess we all go through those dry spells at times. And it seems like when I do post, it's been about food. I couldn't figure that out, except that this past Monday made six years since my dear little Gram went to be with Jesus and I think perhaps she's been on my mind lately. I feel like my love of cooking is the legacy she left me. So maybe today I'll just blog about Gram a bit.

From the time I was little, I loved spending time in the kitchen with my Gram. She moved way out to the country (about 30 minutes away from us) when we were little, but we always seemed to get out there at least once a week. My sister and I just loved to spend the night at Gram's and in the summertime, a night usually turned into a week. When I was about 11 or 12, we moved right next door to her. Well, actually it was across the field on the adjoining property, but close enough to walk about 100 yards to several times a day, which is exactly what we did. I can't tell you how many times my sis and I would find a reason to sneak over to Gram's right about dinner time, because most likely she'd offer us a bit of whatever she had, which was usually much better than the options at home! (Not that my mom wasn't a good cook, but you know how it is - everything tastes better out!)

Anyways, we spent loads of time with Gram. One summer we got on an art lesson kick and we'd spend hours over there at her kitchen table, drawing at her direction, practising shading and drawing still lifes. We usually got silly and we loved to draw cartoons and comics. My gram had an amazing sense of humor - the kind that is able to see humor in the most mundane things.

If we weren't drawing, we could often be found in the "parlor" - her seemingly ornate livingroom - playing the piano or organ. She didn't have a ton of money but she always saved to buy the best in home furnishings. And her walls were covered with paintings of the Mona Lisa, Pinkie, Gainesborough's Blue Boy and other reproductions she'd painted over the years. She loved to play both the piano and organ, although my sister was the really good one. Sometimes we'd just goof off, and other times Deb would help Gram with a song she was working on. Sometimes she'd burst into song as my sister pounded out the oldies. Now that I think of it, I guess Gram never really was proficient on either instrument, except in her heart.

Where she shined was in the kitchen. To say she loved to cook is an understatement. I think she dreamed about it at night. I don't believe she ever weighed more than 110 lbs (she was barely five foot tall) so it's not like she cooked to eat. To her, it was an art. I think lots of people have a hard time understanding that today. There's a certain satisfaction that comes from the process of cooking. By process, I mean from the conception of the idea to watching someone else taste and enjoy the final product.

And how many times did I see this process in action. We'd go to a restaurant and taste something she thought was out of this world. She'd go home and think of nothing else for the next few days. I'd find her poring over cookbooks in search of a similar recipe, until she thought she had the idea. Then she'd make it - over and over and over again - until she felt she had it just right. I remember her doing this with croissants, pizza, egg rolls - so many things. Oh, and nut rolls. This was a yearly effort on her part to master the elusive perfect nutroll recipe.

Gram would never had been caught making anything from a box. Everything was from scratch. (She could even tell when a cake or something she had at a restaurant was made from a mix). Again, it was all about the process. The snapping of green beans, chopping of vegetables, cutting up chicken - all of this was enjoyable to her.

I think this philosophy of cooking summed up her entire life. She knew how to enjoy the journey. She wasn't just in a rush to reach the destination. She paid cash for everything, because the time spent saving for something made it worth the wait (something I'm just starting to learn). She wasn't afraid to tackle huge projects that sometimes took her months to complete, because the end result was worth her daily bits of time and effort. She didn't allow life to rush her on through; she truly took life one day at a time and lived her life for all it was worth.

Even though I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like to, I try to carry this over into my everyday life as well as my cooking. Granted, there are so many quicker ways to do things today, and I'm fine with that. I'd gladly accept a dishwasher if someone gave it to me. I love my dryer and not having to hang my wash on the line. Cooking is one area where I like taking my time. Sometimes my husband doesn't understand this when the kitchen is a mess at 10pm because I just had to try a new recipe! But I think he's learning it's just something I enjoy doing.

But I often find myself impatient, especially in this stage of my life. I have certain goals and desires and I want them all now. (I'm not really talking about material things here.) And I know sometimes I'm not enjoying the journey. Time flies when you're not paying attention. I want to remember it's about the process - about God working on my life one day at a time, knowing He already knows the outcome.

I know this is a rambling, disjointed collection of thoughts here. Perhaps this is a tribute to my Gram today. Or maybe it's just a reminder to myself of how I want to live. If you've made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading!


Katrina said...

What a sweet tribute to a lovely lady! Thanks for sharing this!

Jennifer said...

I made it, and I enjoyed it. Really great thoughts, here, not too rambling. She sounds like she was a great lady.

And talking about cooking is fine in my book. You won't lose me with that topic.

Vicki said...

Wanted to thank you for the nice note you left at CWO. THanks for your encouraging remarks.