I’m resolved to blog again. In the past six month, finding the time, motivation or drive to do so has been rather hard. For anyone who has been through an accelerated, full time program of any sort please insert some form of “I told you so” here.
Six months in, I will be the first to admit that being a full time student with no job is not my cup of tea anymore, if it ever was. My program is not what I thought it would be. Life in New York is not what I thought it would be. And any idea I had about anything to do with this adventure is not what I thought it would be. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot and changed a lot. You got that right, A LOT!
Thankfully, the past the six months have also come with many amazing life lessons and a few recipes, that I will impart on you starting today.
I actually stopped cooking for a while, as it was really hard to be in the kitchen. I wrote about it a while back, but never posted…I was both too busy and too conflicted about all the changes in my life. Reading it now, it shows me how far I’ve come and how much cooking I have to catch up on.
I close my eyes and I step into the kitchen and right away in my head I start to put together the ingredients I will need for tonight’s dinner. I have an image in my head, my computer in my hand with several recipes that stirred my creativity pulled up on the screen. It’s been a rough day and I’m ready to shake off the cobwebs by creating something for the people in my home (this night) and myself.
When my feet touch the cold tile of my New York kitchen, I strain to feel the same sense of ease and clearing of cobwebs as I do at home, in Berkeley. I don’t feel the same pull of creativity or inspiration. All the items are the same, my knives, kitchen aid, cutting board and Dutch oven yet the sudden urge to create something delicious is not nearly as strong.
My parent’s kitchen feels familiar to me, always a bit of a challenge because I don’t ever have all the ingredients I THINK I need to create the image in my head. Yet being back in CA, in their kitchen, I’m suddenly motivated to cook. It’s simple, it’s breakfast, but the urge is there, the itch.
I feel the urge more when Will is around, maybe that’s because there is someone to cook for, someone to enjoy the spoils with. Yet the kitchen still feels foreign, I keep trying to reach for that feeling, that connection I’ve felt for many years now, when I step into the kitchen to cook.
The kitchen at Wills parents house is big and open. Just like with my parent’s kitchen, I know I don’t have all of my kitchen knickknacks. But I love cooking for family and that in itself is the driving force. I feel happy standing there slicing onions, prepping shrimp and refusing to let anyone help me even though I love the company. The best part though, is when everyone comes together to enjoy the final product, the critique of the dish, the laughter and love remind me why I love to cook so much in the first place.
We step into the kitchen together, both with our own visions. We discuss, argue and compromise on the different aspect of how this meal will come together. He lets me lead, even though he has proven himself in the kitchen twice over. We put together the different parts of tonight’s dinner, critiquing and thinking of improvements for next time as we go along. The kitchen is filled with our voices: stupid jokes, playful glances and teasing criticisms. The new surroundings feel more intimate less foreign.
Most of the boxes we packed in our move were labeled kitchen. It’s amazing how much fit into such a small space. I wondered, when I come back to this space, would it feel the same?
All the same things made to fit into another small kitchen. Will I eventually be as sad to leave it behind or will it always feel somewhat foreign? In the mean time, I pick up my knife and seek out the inspiration to cook something new.
This recipe came to me via my friend Ashly, who got it from her mother -in-law, who modified it from the cookbook Silver Palate. This is by far the most amazing, moist and delicious ginger bread ever. I've only made the recipe once, so far, but I've been told its very forgiving to substitutions.
- Mix dry ingredients:
- 3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Mix wet/other ingredients:
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 – 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger (I did not have any and used freshly grated ginger instead, I grated 1.5 inch long chunk)
- 1 cup pumpkin or squash of choice
- Grease and flour 2 9” baking pans, a large iron skillet, muffin tins or whatever you have.
- Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients. I added the pumpkin and grated ginger last.
- Pour in to pans.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes (less for muffins), or until top springs back when touched and the edges have pulled away slightly from the edge of the pan.