Cooking is an incredibly personal thing. Our cooking is influenced in so many ways including our cultural context(s), regional availability of ingredients, family traditions, dietary needs, lifestyle and budgetary constraints. It even depends on how you define cooking. Is there a difference between cooking and preparing? Some say “yes”, others “no”. Everyone has a different approach – or philosophy towards cooking. It’s interesting to explore why you cook the way you do. Food is powerful because it is something that we all have in common, “we all gotta eat”. I’d like to share my philosophy towards cooking. My philosophy guides what, how, and why I cook, and it’s what Cooking Adventures is really all about!
For a little bit about my personal context, I live in Ontario, Canada. I grew up in an agricultural area mixed with some suburban communities. I lived semi-rural for many years and my family’s cultural background is mostly Scottish, English, and Irish, with some polish-Ukrainian influence too.
I learned to cook with my Mom and I honestly don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in cooking like her. To me, my Mom is my idealized vision of a “Chef”. She’s interested in nearly all aspects of cooking, everything from the intricate history of a dish, to the sourcing of the ingredients. She’s detail oriented, careful in how she prepares each food, and very thoughtful about how she puts together a meal; taking the time and care to match the right meal with the right occasion and people. She’s adventurous and loves exploring new foods. Her cooking is definitely Pinterest perfect. I’ve always looked up to her ability to cook and wanted to provide that experience for my own family. I guess I always hoped that my family, would also look to me as I have my Mom.
The first thing I learned to cook on my own was scrambled eggs when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I remember feeling so proud that I had learned this. I think learning to cook as a young child made me feel a sense of independence, self-sufficiency and confidence. I wanted to know how to make the things I wanted to eat, without relying on the help of others. Later on, in my teen years and even more so after moving out, cooking grew to become more about self-expression, exploration, and creativity. It also became an important way in which I express my love to others, and a large part of my sense of purpose and contribution to my family.
But, I feel I have yet to live up to my idealized Chef-self inspired by my Mother. And if I’m being honest, I don’t know that I will ever reach that level. Not because I couldn’t, but more because I am discovering my own philosophy towards cooking. What cooking means to me and what I am looking to get out of it.
After working long days outside of the home, I don’t always have the time to get into the complexities of cooking and it can start to create stress when you are squeezing it in-between work, hobbies, a social life, and other responsibilities. I’ve had times when it started to feel like a chore and I wasn’t enjoying it as much. I’ve since realized that while cooking can be a source of profound experiences and feelings, it also serves the basic fundamental purpose of fueling our bodies. Sometimes I think we over-complicate things when we feel this pressure to perform. So, met with the realities of everyday life, I shifted my expectations and desires around cooking. Instead of trying to cook exactly like my Mom, or trying to be a 5 star chef, my goals for cooking have become much more grounded and straightforward.
Here are the 6 ideals that influence my cooking day-to-day and my Cooking Adventures:
- Providing healthy and delicious meals for my family.
- Exploring new foods and recipes that excite my family, while knowing they don’t have to come-out perfect.
- Keeping food costs low where we can.
- Limiting stress around food preparation (time commitment, complicated recipes, hard to find ingredients etc.).
- Expressing my love for those important in my life through sharing meals together, particularly during special holidays.
- Sharing and connecting with others through cooking, like through this wonderful platform!
These ideals have helped me to enjoy cooking despite the restrictions and stresses of daily life. All in all, I like to keep it simple, healthy, tasty, and full of love. I find there really is nothing more special than a meal that feeds our bodies and is cooked with the desire to bring people together. That is really what inspired me to share my recipes and create Cooking Adventures. If we must fuel our bodies every day, why not find ways to make cooking something enjoyable, stress free, and an opportunity to come together. It’s okay to not be the perfect Chef or to cook just like your Mom (or other role model), that’s the adventure! As I said at the beginning, one of the things that makes cooking so cool is how it is unique to every person. Go out, have your own cooking adventures, and create your cooking philosophy!
Hannah B. L.