Culinary Arts

THE HEARTH IS IN THE KITCHEN

Cooking like gardening or lovemaking is a sacramental activity, in which the spiritual and the material meet and their boundaries blur. I can’t imagine not cooking most of the meals I eat, any more than I can imagine not raising my own children. It would be almost like never breathing my own breath.

Now that we grow most of our produce cooking is even more integral to the rhythms of our household and we feel ourselves flourishing, like a green plant that has been moved from a dark corner to a bright window. We look forward to next year when we will begin to have eggs and meat from our own geese and chickens. At the same time we live in a wide world, and I should hate to forego the many staples, fresh foods, spices, and fine meat and dairy products we buy from a variety of markets local and distant.

I cook most days just for two, and because we have reached the age when appetites diminish (by prescription, if need be), my recipes whenever practical are sized for just one or two servings. I am not a fan of leftovers, partly because if there are leftovers then I don’t have an excuse to cook, but also because if there are leftovers I am much more likely to overeat. Also, I find these recipes make it easier if I am cooking for a larger dinner party, because it is easier to multiply quantities than to divide them. Finally, the stated nutritional values (calculated by my indispensible Living Cookbook software) are more accurate when the portions are more tightly controlled.