It’s been a long time (long time), shouldn’t have left you (left you), without a dope beat to step to 😉
(RIP Aaliyah 🙌)
Yeah… I haven’t posted a damn thing on here in FOUR MONTHS. Real life got a leeeetle bit WILD — Mikey got a new job in JERSEY, and since he’s a teacher, we had to pack up our Colorado lives REAL QUICK and get out to the east coast in time for the new school year.
OH, and I also got PREGNANT in May, so the hustle exhaustion was compounded by first trimester exhaustion.
I slept the entire month of August 😂 Not really, but I sure as hell didn’t do much cooking… I think we lived off of bagels, pizza, and other people cooking for us for most of the month.
But I knew I’d have to get back into the kitchen eventually, damn it. And I had a BIG list of BIG cooking projects to tackle.
The way I see it, I’m only going to get bigger and bigger, and therefore less and less psyched about time-consuming cooking projects. My life in general is pretty disorganized, but when it comes to cooking? There is a glimmer of giving a shit about planning and organization 😂
My list of cooking projects were a gift to Future Suzanne: Restocking my deep freezer with sauces, semi-prepared meals, and ready-to-go meals.
Oh, and one big gift just for Mikey: Breakfast burritos.
Breakfast burritos were my original freezer meal, the thing I was making long before I ever had a deep freezer. Early on in Mike’s teaching career, he had a schedule one year with a really late lunch break. He was FAMISHED by the time lunch rolled around, and the couple pieces of hand fruit he’d been eating in the car simply weren’t cutting it. (And he sure as hell isn’t/wasn’t the type of guy to wake up 15-20 minutes earlier to eat breakfast at home.)
My solution was breakfast burritos. I’d developed a taste for them around that time because I’d been working in an office where a “breakfast burrito lady” showed up a couple times a week, and her burritos were insanely delicious.
I thought, “I could make these for Mikey – They’d be the perfect thing to eat in the car because you don’t need a knife and fork, and they’re relatively neat.”
And so I made them. BIG batches of breakfast burritos – Like 30 at a time, 10 each of 3 flavors.
And even though his teaching schedule changed, his addiction to breakfast burritos had been solidified. So I’ve been making them ever since – About 200 per year, a true labor of love because I rarely eat one myself.
So when I made my list of BIG cooking projects last month, breakfast burritos were at the top of the list. And that was just the beginning: I made huge batches of pesto and Bolognese sauces (marinara will be up next.) I made a few very basic soup bases, as well as a ton of shredded chicken for easy fall meals.
And as I was doing all this cooking over the past couple of weeks, one thought fluttered through my mind over and over again: “Food is Love.”
I never “got” that phrase back in the day. I wrote it off as a really corny thing celeb and amateur chefs say because they’re literally sexually turned on by food and cooking.
Food is love. I get how people can love food, but food IS love?
Food doesn’t love you back.
Or does it…?
(We’ll get back to THAT…)
Slowly, imperceptibly, over many years, the concept of “food is love” revealed itself to me…
The first step was the breakfast burritos, the “labor of love.” Those were just for Mikey. It was an act of ME caring about HIM – Making sure he got a good start every day.
And when I thought back on it recently, I saw many other examples of “food is love” in my culinary transformation. I never consciously recognized them at the time, but they’ve been there ever since I started learning how to cook WELL.
Mike and I waited a LONG time to start our family – We were married almost 9 years when Izzy was born. But I remember thinking to myself, over a decade ago, “I better learn how to cook NOW… Because if/when we decide to have kids, I sure as hell won’t have time to learn THEN.”
And that thought wasn’t simply about the TIME and FOCUS it takes to learn how to cook. The underlying reason was that I wanted to feed my family WELL. I wanted my kids to eat healthy stuff. And if we never had kids? Well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to be able to feed Mike and myself well.
Then there were other shifts that I barely noticed while they were happening. Over all of the years we visited Mike’s mom in Florida, I began noticing how much effort she put into making nice meals for us when we were there. I knew she rarely went through that much effort just for herself, and she just wanted to make things “special” for our visits.
And so I started doing the same when she visited us in Colorado.
Then there was the time when Kerry, Kathleen and I cooked a gigantic dinner for everybody at “Moochfest.” See, my parents, a few of my aunts and uncles, and a few family friends have timeshares in Hilton Head, South Carolina. And about 10 years ago, my sister, my cousins and I said to ourselves, “Why aren’t we crashing this ‘free’ vacation?”
Thus “Moochfest” was born – The adult children crashing the vacation of our retired parents, mooching off their generosity every April for a cheap vacation.
A few years in, I had the idea that we should cook a big “thank you” dinner for all the parents/friends – A solid 15-20 people, including ourselves. It was a big hit, though we didn’t make it an annual thing. Cooking for that many people is no joke!
Cooking for a few people was no big deal though… In the Colorado mountains, I loved making nice breakfasts and dinners for our visitors over the years. Don’t get me wrong – I still hated cooking, but that hate was more about having to cook EVERY DAY. I didn’t mind cooking for guests. It was a show of love towards them…
Recently, it occurred to me that the way I show people love has shifted… Back in the day, I used to make people gifts. I’m pretty good at painting, crocheting, cross-stitching, and crafting in general, and many close friends and family have things I made for them.
I’ve never been a particularly verbally or physically affectionate person – But crafting things for people I love is how I showed them love. If I crocheted a blanket for you, that was ME giving YOU a warm hug whenever you needed it.
Somehow, the blanket has turned into food. Cooking has become the way I show people love.
And with the exception of breakfast burritos, all of my cooking represents SELF-LOVE as well. Because every single time I cook something from scratch, I’m practicing self-love. I’m taking care of myself. Even when it’s something that’s not particularly healthy, like a cheesesteak, it’s still far healthier than any takeout version of the same dish.
Skipping back to my earlier comment, I’ve realized that food DOES, in fact, love you back. I’m in my late 30s now, and I FEEL healthier than I ever have. I sleep better. I understand that phrase “you are what you eat” now. Because when I used to eat crap regularly, I felt like crap regularly.
And these home-cooked meals aren’t just boosting me physiologically – They’re boosting me psychologically as well. Feeding myself and the people I love WELL does wonders for my confidence and self-esteem.
It’s not an ego thing… I don’t cook anything THAT fancy or impressive. It just makes me feel good to feed the people I love a healthy, home-cooked meal.
One of my catch phrases as The Cursing Gourmet is “I HATE cooking… But I LOVE feeding the people I love (myself included!)”
When I made that up, I just thought it was a cute way of addressing my love/hate relationship with cooking. But when I really started thinking about it recently, I realized that almost every single reason I cook despite HATING IT is borne from LOVE.
And love will always trump hate in the end. Or at least, in the kitchen, it has for ME.
Food, or cooking anyway, IS love ❤️