When I’m cooking for myself, I usually take one of two extremes — scrounge for leftovers or make something new and off-the-wall. Tonight, as a new dusting of snow started to fall, I chose the latter. My taste buds were calling for sweet and spicy. I had the Red, White and Blueberry BBQ burger at Scotty’s Brewhouse on Friday night, but it left my taste buds wanting something similar, but spicier. After that monster of a meal, I also needed something healthier — the boneless pork chops in my freezer fit the bill.
For most of my adult life, I thought I possessed a critical character flaw because I don’t have close, lifelong friends. I’d look at people whose inner circle of friends knows what they were like in grade school, high school, or even college — and wonder what was wrong with me.
I look back on the ages of 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45, and my inner circle looks completely different at each milestone, with very little thread between. I remember the moments of the purest, most intense connection with people who now exist mostly in memory or the periphery of life. I’m often overcome with a nostalgic sadness and regret that those moments are no longer on the center stage of my life.
It’s taken me nearly 47 years to understand, but the impermanence of nearly all of our connections is a good thing.
When my son shared with me that cream-based soups were his favorite kind, I thought to myself, I guess I can always learn. All of the soups I’ve made in the past are chicken or beef broth-based and cooking with milk has always left me apprehensive.
I decided the best approach would be to treat the soup as broth-based to start, then add the cream near the end.
A delicious meal doesn’t have to take a lot of effort, so on a lazy Saturday when the kid and I were spending the afternoon and evening alternating between Hulu, Netflix, and Apple Music, I decided to throw some quick panko chicken in the oven.
The pain was excruciating.
It felt like someone was grabbing a muscle in the middle of my back.
Then squeezing it.
Then twisting it.
Then stabbing it.
Over and over again.
As I made my son an egg sandwich for breakfast this morning, I realized just how happy cooking for him makes me. It’s the breakfast he asks for the most, nothing fancy, just simple comfort food.
For the three years after my marriage ended, I’ve used the #singledadcooking to tag the photos of my culinary creations. That hashtag has served me well, and on more than one occasion I’ve run into people who’ve asked me when the SDC cookbook is hitting the shelves. Of late, I’ve realized that while #singledadcooking captures what I am when I cook, it doesn’t communicate why I cook.
I cook for the people I love.
When I’m on my own, I’m more apt to scrounge on leftovers. My inspiration comes when there is more than one plate set at the table.
The cookbook may still be in the works, but it’ll now be titled #FoodIsLove because that better captures the essence of why I create in the kitchen.
Those of you who’ve followed along here know that I’ve been open with my life, with the joys and struggles that make up my authentic story. Early last year, my world, the life I imagined, came crashing down and I raised my armor in defense. I shut down. I swore that I was done living my life as an open book, done with vulnerability, done with deep relationships.
Then I met K.
She didn’t try to fix or rescue me.
She didn’t ask me to be anything but the broken mess I was.
She gave me space and time to figure my own shit out.
She was patient and understanding so I could work to rebuild myself.
She chose what was healthy for her, and never once asked that I do anything but what was healthy for me.