Cooking Insecurities

Quondam: former; onetime

I used to HATE cooking.

Whenever someone asked me what my least favorite thing was to do, “cooking” was always my prompt reply. Surveys requiring responses for disliked hobbies? Oh, easy. Cooking.  Young men would ask how I would plan on taking care of my future man in culinary ways; I told them to mind their own lives, and I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.cooking-knife-vegetables-meats-cutting boards

Growing up, I was a perfectionist. I liked things to be done a certain way, and I didn’t like to look bad. (Who am I kidding? I still don’t!) Because of these silly fears, I chose not to try out multiple things in fear of failing and being “found out.”

Additionally, I was a homeschooled child. Unlike many of my friends who were one of 5 or 8 or 10 children, I was one of 3. I was four years old when my baby brother was born, so I didn’t have to grow up babysitting or taking on household management to help my mom out. We were all babies.

I watched with envy when my friends could cook up a find tasting meal, change a babies’ diaper, or wrangle kids effectively. Babies would cry the instant I touched them, and I really didn’t know how to cook. Thank God I loved (still do) cleaning though. At least I wouldn’t be a complete lump on a log who just ate and did nothing to contribute.

From those moments on, a soul with mounted insecurity swore to never have children or never cook. It was easy to hide behind my fears and make pseudo-promises to myself. I didn’t have littles in my life, and mom did all the cooking. (Or the nights she was in no mood to whip up a meal, trusty old chips & salsa/cheese & crackers quieted my hunger pangs!)

As time passed, I began digging into the “whys” of my avowed statements. It wasn’t the fact I merely thought cooking took forever, and I was too lazy so no bueno. I realized it was my self-imposed limitations and prides/fears that inhibited me from living out these enriching tasks, namely cooking.

To take a load off her plate, my mom asked me to start cooking several months ago. I initially balked at the request, but since I’m not a terrible daughter and for the sake of her task load, I started. At first, I hated it. But over time, I realized that enjoyment started creeping into my mindset. I actually started looking forward to the process and cooking for loved ones.
Now, I welcome mom’s feedback and corrections. I find joy in the experimentation and the verbalized “yummy!” from my family or friends. It’s no longer about how I look but how I can serve my loved ones. And quite frankly, what does “perfect” look like anyway?

~Lina Marie

What Is This Bitterness I’m Tasting?!

Physiognomy: the outward appearance of anything, taken as offering some insight into its character

Have you ever woken up one morning already craving a smoothie? I climbed out of bed, already scouring for fruits and healthiness before making my French press of coffee (let me tell you, that’s pretty rare.)

It wasn’t hard to find what I was looking for. Pineapples. Bananas. Unripe mangoes. (Ehh, we’ll put those in there anyway.) I was reminded we had frozen blueberries and strawberries in the freezer in the basement, so I hauled both bags up.

Our blender sucks. I always have to put the soft ingredients in first to give the other fruits some “lubricant” to get pulverized as well. It makes a whirring noise that sounds like those annoying lawn-care machines you wake up to on a Saturday morning. (Or let’s be real. The one’s that wake YOU up on a Saturday morning. Ugh.) I have to keep shaking the darn thing to mix all the fruit up.

In addition to the berries and fruits, I like to sprinkle in cinnamon, pour in flax seed, spoon in peanut butter, and shake in some chia seeds. They’re all rich in protein and have other beneficial properties.

For a long time, we had a bag of organic Neem powder sitting in our dish cabinet. I had no idea what it was, but when I opened the bag and took a whiff, it smelled like wheatgrass. (I mean, if something says “Ayurverdic Herbs”, it ought to be healthy, am I right?) Shrugging with indifference, I tossed in some Neem powder happy to be extra healthy today.

Once the smoothie was all mixed up, I took a spoonful to see how it tasted.

Hmmm, perfectly sweet and tart and…EWW. Why does this smoothie taste bitter?!

Horror of horrors. I didn’t realize Neem powder was bitter!!! I ruined a perfectly good smoothie out of ignorance. (*long, dramatic sigh*)

Not one to be wasteful, I bore the bitterness, telling myself to be grateful that at least my body was happy even though my tongue kept yelling at me. It wasn’t a bitterness that affected one area of your tongue, but spreads throughout your entire mouth. It probably took me an hour to drink the whole thing.

After a few big mouthfuls, it dawned on me how like life this smoothie was. We hope for sweetness and have a variety of different blessings in life that resemble it. But then we add something to our lives that adds some bitterness and we have to suffer the consequences later. The Neem powder resembled something else I already knew about, so I assumed this imposter would be alright too.Smoothie-neem powder-morning

But you know what? Life is usually never always sweet. There will always be something bitter, undesirable, distasteful that ruins the season or lot. However, we can focus on how frustrating it is or see it as character-building and stretching.

I finished that smoothie like an Olympian finishing a grueling race. You ain’t beating me today! I win.

~Lina Marie

realAre you interested in what Neem powder even is and the amazing health benefits it possesses? Click this link here for more information. Health on!

Savoring the Flavor

Cater-cousin: an intimate friend {may have been a word used to suggest “providing service or food for” thus establishing strong bonds over shared experiences*}

During one of my periodic visits to my favorite young, married couple out of town, I was enthusiastically handed a recipe book on desserts, sorbets, and ice creams. Some were uniquely flavored. Some were classics. Some I couldn’t even pronounce. They were all delectable and S (husband) showed me a recipe he and his wife (A) were thinking about making — mango, pepper sorbet.

My initial reaction was a crumpled nose, but when they showed me black pepper vodka they were making and explained the flavor combination, I was intrigued. On the way to Atlanta, S’s parents dropped off an old-fashioned ice cream maker that we were psyched about using. Time to pick up the ingredients!

While A stayed home to prepare dinner, S and I hopped in the car and went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some mangoes. The only ones on sale were giant and green, so we didruby-violets-ortonn’t think they were ripe enough, but we came to find out that Keitt mangoes were the best that color and we later found out how juicy and fibrous they were.

Armed with our brown bag of fruit, we headed back to the apartment to start creating the concoction. We had more mangoes than we knew what to do with, but with messy hands and laughter over our experiment, the pepper vodka was mixed with the mango puree. It was thrown in the freezer and we hoped for the best.

Later that evening, we had several friends come by for an impromptu game night. Of course, we excitedly shared about our flavorful creation hopefully hardening to its proper texture in the freezer. We checked on it a few times, speculating about its readiness and decided to give it go.

The first taste was infused with such rich flavor. Who knew mango and pepper would go so nicely together! Handing out small bowls of mango pepper sorbet, seven people crowded into the tiny kitchen lighted with fairy lights strung on the cabinet. It was cramped but cozy. We all went for seconds and had a blast taste testing our roasted chestnuts collected on a camping trip (which were super disgusting, by the way! Maybe we didn’t roast them correctly. Haha.)

In those moments of laughter, friendship, and food (and the following night of making cardamom, lemon ice cream), life again once reminded me that it doesn’t have to be the grand nights out or extravagant plans that create the greatest bonds and memories.

*http://www.dictionary.com/wordoftheday/2016/06/16/cater-cousin

~Lina Marie