Friday, December 16, 2005

Rediscovering Self

I used to love to cook. I used to love to create my own recipes. Somewhere along the way, I lost that. Somewhere along the way I got so tired of being criticized for what I made or making it and not getting anyone to come to eat until it got cold that I stopped cooking. I definitely stopped creating new dishes. And I thought maybe I just didn’t like to cook or wasn’t very good at it.

As those of you who used to get my trip reports know, the past couple of years have been years of discovery for me. Well, it’s still happening. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve discovered that I love making home made chicken soup. I adapted a recipe for shortbread cookies that came out really well. I made home made shepherd’s pie—from scratch and without any recipe to tell me what to put in or how long to cook it or at what temperature. I made Finnish coffee bread again—from a recipe I’ve had for years.

I’m rediscovering that I not only like to cook but that I do know instinctively what will work when I create things from scratch without a recipe or adapt a recipe to something I will like better.

All of which may seem unimportant except...except that it is part of rediscovering who I am and what I can do. As I made the Finnish coffee bread to take to a writers group Christmas party, part of me was still afraid it wasn’t going to be good enough. It still came as a surprise when people raved about how good it was. I was just as surprised when someone commented at the cookie exchange at how good my Finnish shortbread cookies were. And I realized I couldn’t remember when someone last said that to me about anything I made.

I love cooking. I love creating my own recipes—like the shepherd’s pie and the chicken soup. This is who I really am. And as I look around my lovely open kitchen and the new set of knives on the counter and the new casserole dishes and cooking pans in the cupboards, I smile. I’m going to enjoy using all of them. I’m going to enjoy discovering new foods to make, new foods to share with the new friends in my life.

I wish for all of you that you are discovering or rediscovering things you love to do. I wish for all of you that if you have stopped doing things you once loved—especially if it was because those around you didn’t value what you did—that you take a chance and try again whatever it was you gave up. I wish for you that part of the magic of this season and of the coming year will be that you, too, rediscover those things that once mattered to you and could matter again.