Friday, March 12, 2010

0 Cooking To Make A Cookbook: The Fun of Cooking Something New Every Day

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As most of the regular readers of this blog probably already know, I test out every recipe on this blog before I post it.  And right now, as I'm in the midst of cookbook writing, sometimes that means creating anywhere from 1-4 recipes & trying out all of them in the same day.  Not sure if some of you realize this, but that's a lot of cooking to do in one day. (Needless to say, that's also a lot of food to fit in our fridge & freezer, which are often bursting at the seams; of course, an upside to this is that there's always fresh, healthy food at the ready for snacks & meals.) It's also a heck of a lot of thinking & creative energy concentrated on a single activity.

What I'm illustrating here is how much effort -- & a very pleasurable effort at that -- I'm putting into this whole endeavor. You can see a lot of the output here in this blog, in the form of new recipe posts -- and then of course, there are the invisible efforts that go unnoticed by all except for maybe a handful of witnesses (namely Erik & the cats, or anyone who happens to drop by for a visit) -- the hours of recipe-writing, the cooking, the adjustments & recipe revisions, the cookbook writing & revisions, etc., & the several newly-created recipes that will only be making their appearance in cookbook form. :)

The results of all this recipe-creating, testing, & writing/posting are really rewarding in several ways: In addition to the obvious sense of accomplishment I feel while engaged in this activity, it allows me to literally give of myself to others. I know I'm not giving people something in the literal, material sense -- OK, maybe technically, an online recipe could be counted as a physical thing -- but it's still something I am creating and giving to others, without expecting anything in return. I would like to think that, instead of giving a material thing, what I'm really giving is an experience, as the people reading & commenting on this blog & interacting with me via other social media, &/or trying out my recipes are still engaging in an activity, which is hopefully a positive & memorable one! :)

I love helping people -- It's something coded into my nature. When people ask me questions, whether here on this blog, or on Twitter/FB/email, etc. -- it can be about food, running, knitting, technology, or whatever -- I will do my best to make time to answer their question. Sometimes I'm on overload, like everyone else from time to time, but all the same, I hope that people will understand when this happens & not take it personally. I'm usually pretty easy-going about these sorts of things, & so, hope that others will try to look at it in the same light. As mere mortals, we usually try to do what we can when we can. :)

This brings me to something I've been thinking & tweeting about a lot: Material giving vs. giving one's time. These days with the economy being what it is, I think that people are returning to the idea of the latter.  You see it in the rise of volunteerism communities everywhere across the nation & the globe, but you also see it in personal expressions -- with family & friends.  Maybe the initial impetus to spend an evening at home -- like eating in or doing simple activities together -- starts off being financial, but the side effects are that we are reconnecting with the essential joys that a lot of us had put on hold before for the pursuit of other things, namely material things.  Now, that other stuff just doesn't seem as important anymore. As a friend of mine likes to say, "you don't miss what you never had in the first place."  Even if we have lost material belongings or financial assets, I believe that the re-evaluation of our lifestyle & values is a good thing.  Maybe we are finally starting to realize that that flashy car or expensive pair of shoes (that we really never needed in the first place) doesn't really make us who we are, nor do they love us back.  

If you remember the times in which you were most happy, were you happy because your every material whim was being met or were you happy because you were in a place in your life where you were surrounded by people, activities, & experiences which challenged you & made you feel vibrant & alive?  I know that, looking back, some of the happiest memories from my past were not when I was making the big bucks in my former corporate existence but rather when we had almost nothing & were living in a rather old & unadorned, rented house. Sure, part of it was that we had simpler lives back then -- straight-forward, 40-hours-a-week jobs that really were 40-hours-a-week as advertised :) & less responsibility -- but we also spent our days doing simple things -- going on walks & hikes together, cooking at home, running in the park, listening to music until the wee hours of the morning & discussing our lives, rollerblading through parks, visiting museums downtown, & just making the most of our time together in general. Somewhere along the line, things got complicated, but it's nice to know that we still have those experiences that we can return to whenever we choose.

And that's pretty much all I have to say on the above. As usual, my posts are never just about one thing. :) The way I see it, it's all related. Not just our thoughts & our actions, & obvious concrete things like how making a cookbook & doing simple activities are fun & meaningful, & reconnect us back to the simple joys of our lives. I'm talking about finding hidden connections between our thoughts and our actions, & how these are connected to other people's thoughts & experiences. That's where you come in. :) The roles of writer and reader aren't set in stone here; as we exchange ideas, we are affecting each other in ways we have yet to discover. And that's a really cool thing.

Like this post, the connections are there, we just have to find them.

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