As Cooking Became The New All-You-Can-Eat I Took Another Look At My Little Collection Of Cooking Books
When asked about my cooking skills I used to point out, well, there are none.
What I was able to do was: preparing dinner. Like, when our son moved in we used to eat at home nearly every night, just because it was the one moment of every day, when we gathered for some time to talk about school, job, holiday plans.
So preparing a decent meal, warm, healthy, became something like a ritual; we even had one evening per week we called "meat-love", where we had veal or chicken or a steak, just Jim and me. As my husband never ate any meat in his life, we did that without him, even cleaned everything hysterically after dinner to leave no traces.
As I am addicted to books, I actually bought cooking-books - but never used them. Like those of Jessica Seinfeld, who resembled my personal relationship to all things around the kitchen. I found them at Rizzoli in New York, I thought, they looked pretty - and also: I had fun to read them. There is no chapter, where she NOT tries to support the idea of "Yes You Can". It is funny and cute, it also helps that my beloved Jerry Seinfeld appears in the pages now and then.
I also bought the interesting looking book of Laurie David, wife of another favourite comedian, Larry David, who dedicated the contents to their family ritual: dinners at Sunday, obligatory to the whole family, even after Laurie and David got divorced. It is actually perfect advice material - how to cook with kids, use your family's classic recipes - and even keep your ex-husbands favourite dessert in mind, within the learning process of forgiving after separating.
After I started to follow the lifestyle advice of Gwyneth Paltrow and her website "Goop" - long before it became a professional women magazine kind of thing, back then, when the blog was still very personal - I not only checked out her restaurant recommendations but her cute cookbooks as well. My favourite, until today, is "It´s All Good", for the subtitle alone: "Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great." A very healthy approach to cooking, just perfect to read along after I changed my lifestyle for the better, some fifteen years ago. Also: enough content to fuel your modern dinner guest conversation engine.
A good friend´s gift "Home Made Winter" even made it to a shelf in our then new extended kitchen - just because it looked so cool and it helped me feel cosy from the inside, just flipping through those pages of delicious cakes and cookies, hot whiskeys and mulled beers. Actually, the book makes a perfect present, when you are invited to house-warm even a one-bedroom-apartment, like a a little heater to read.
"The Ultimate Children's Cookbook" I purchased, when I was planning to sample the recipes of my best friend´s mother - to get an example how to proceed; I never really made that book (who would have thought!), but found out, that some of the step-by-step recipes might be very helpful one day.
That day may now have come.
I already shifted the books from the library to the kitchen. So far so good.
But then I found an even easier way to start this new chapter in my life:
Having had read the brilliantly written recipe-columns of Elisabeth Raether in Germany´s most important weekly paper "Die Zeit" now for years I decided to finally give it a try. I did her fennel gratin (not getting all the ingredients due to empty shelves, but, whatever), and tomorrow I will do the asparagus tart she suggested.
I suspect her to create easier recipes since the lock down - because all of a sudden, more and more people who never cooked had to start using their ovens - but I feel pretty creative anyway.
Who knows, maybe my new cooking hobby is just a phase. Born out of necessity, not out of true desire.
But who cares. Now I know I can. And to improve I will definitely buy one or two of Raether´s books - turns out, she writes about drinking (women) as dedicated as about eating.
Maybe I can improve some of my behavior in that area as well?