In an effort to fill in the gaps between our different outings and to also keep ourselves from unnecessary shopping and eating out, Lance and I have started cooking together. These are not ordinary weeknight meals that are usually attempted to be made within an hour or less.
These are meals of extravagance, sometimes taking between five and ten hours for completion.
These kinds of meals are usually saved for dinner parties, important events, special occasions, etc. The menu is the sort of menu I concoct unrealistically, thinking that future Jessica will be much more willing than present Jessica is to stand in the kitchen over a hot stove all day long in order to make the perfect Hungarian goulash, the perfect red sauce, the perfect beef tenderloin, the perfect homemade lasagna…all with two or three different complicated sides.
Needless to say, when I make such extravagant meals on my own, by the end my hair is pinned back, yet somehow still wildly flying in all directions around my face like a lion’s mane, my clothing is covered in flour, sauce, grease, etc., and I am without a doubt uninterested in eating a single bite of the masterpiece I have just created.
The fault here lies with timing and a Superwoman complex. I am a Type A personality to the extreme. If I say dinner will be on the table at 6:00 pm, it will be ready and served at 6:00 pm.
6:10 is unacceptable.
In addition, I want no help. I want to create the entire meal on my own with no assistance or interruption by anyone around me.
I have problems I know.
In my recent cooking with Lance, I have learned the beauty of working with someone else in the kitchen. I have learned the freedom of not caring when the meal is finished. I have learned the joy of the process of cooking, as well as, the final result in cooking.
The class we took in October on gnocchi making was what sparked our desire to cook together. While we didn’t necessarily find the class itself overly amazing, we enjoyed the process of working together to create something we haven’t made before.
We try to pick either Saturday or Sunday as our day to cook together. We choose a meal that looks challenging. We choose a meal that has a ridiculously long ingredient list (Hello, Bobby Flay!). We choose a meal with elements we hope could become staples in future meals made in our kitchen. We choose a meal with ingredients we have never used, and therefore, must first find and then learn how to use.
It is a lot of work. From preparing the ingredient list, to communicating who is going to do what, it is an incredible process, but it is one that bonds us, occupies our time, and at the end of each meal always produces positive reflections. I have found I enjoy prepping, standing by as the ‘sous chef’ as Lance executes the main components of the meal. I have also learned I dislike Romano cheese, love Carmine’s marinara and breadcrumbs, still find my homemade meatball recipe to be the best, and that Taleggio cheese is the smelliest cheese of them all.
If you find yourself wishing you could cook something different—do it! Make it an event. Plan a day that you will devote yourself to creating that meal. Pick someone you love to share the process with you. Part of what makes our cooking together so wonderful is that we are doing it only for ourselves. If we don’t like it, then it is a lesson learned on the flavors and ingredients used in that particular recipe. If it takes us until 8:00 pm to have dinner, so what!
So far I haven’t found a favorite meal we have cooked together. Hopefully, over the course of the next couple of months, new recipes we try will lead to another post of our favorite meals cooked together.
What is your favorite meal you spent an entire day slaving over?*
*Thanksgiving doesn’t count!