An Ode to Cooking

Monday, June 5, 2017


Growing up, I thought cooking dinner had to be the worst job in the world. I couldn't believe that when I was a grown-up I would have to make a meal every night. It seemed never-ending and boring.

When I went off to college, I essentially had no cooking skills. After moving out of the dorms my sophomore year, my meals more or less consisted of yogurt/banana for breakfast, peanut butter sandwich and carrots for lunch, and pasta with marinara sauce for dinner. Sometimes I switched things up and had scrambled eggs for any of those meals, but that was the extent of my cooking.

After Brock and I got married, we kind of kept eating the same way we always had. We occasionally would make meals together but often would eat something like toast for dinner without a second thought. I had always been annoyed at the assumption that the wife would automatically take on the job of cook, so I made a point of not caring about cooking.

But then I had a special, amazing experience that radically changed my life.

What happened was this: I was at a point in my life where I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to improve myself and I didn't know how. One afternoon I was praying about how I could change, and I had the distinct and overwhelming thought that I needed to prepare my body for a baby. Brock and I didn't have plans to have kids within the next year (and it did end up being more than a year before I got pregnant with James) but I understood that this was something that wasn't too far away. And I needed to be ready.

I've heard people talk about lightning bolt moments, where one moment radically changed an aspect of their lives. When I reflect on my own life, this experience always comes to mind first. It was this experience during prayer that single-handedly made me decide to start cooking.

That night, I tentatively searched around Pinterest and made a grocery list of ingredients for a few dinners that didn't look too hard.

The next evening, I began to make this pesto and cheese stuffed shells recipe. I was stressed the entire time; checking the directions four times before I did anything, second-guessing how to stuff the shells, and just generally feeling unsure of myself. Everything came out fine, and Brock and I had a dinner that was at least ten times better than what we had eaten in the past few months. Together, we began to try out new recipes and I slowly built up my confidence in cooking.

I messed a bunch of things up along the way (including putting a plastic casserole lid in the oven, where it promptly melted; and mistaking a cube of butter for a tablespoon of butter, thus ruining the recipe) but learned to love the process and steps of cooking, and the feeling at the end of having made something productive.

Cooking has been so good for my personal growth. It's taught me how to stay calm in stressful situations and that a lot of mistakes can be more or less corrected. I've become better at prioritizing and keeping my eye on multiple things at once. I've learned that if something does go wrong, it's not the end of the world and everything is still fine.

I love being able to control what we eat and explore new recipes. It helps fill a creative hole in my life that I didn't know was there. Overall, learning to love cooking has made me a happier and more well-rounded person.


P.S. Here is a post with some of my favorite healthy recipes