I was recently reading one of Alexandra Stoddard's books, can't remember which one, but it was about living fully/simply/abundantly. Anyway, in one chapter she spoke specifically about smells. One smell in particular that struck a chord with me was the smell of breakfast cooking. She asks the reader to think back to a morning growing up when you woke up in your clean, fresh, warm bed to the smell of bacon, eggs, and biscuits cooking. I was immediately transported by her words back to many days from my adolescence. I can't count the number of times I woke up in my comfy bed to the smell of a delicious breakfast cooking downstairs. It is a feeling of comfort and warm expectation unlike many other. I still enjoy that experience from time to time when I visit my grandmother in Tennessee. It is a large part of the draw for me. I know that when I go up there, I will wake up in the morning, burrowed under my grandmother's homemade quilts, to the smell of biscuits and gravy cooking.
This is a memory I want my boys to have. Mostly now, I start breakfast after they are already up and very rarely is it anything as exciting as the breakfasts I used to wake up to. Another of my favorite memories are of the afternoon snacks my mom used to make for us. Especially during high school, it was such a pleasure to walk into the kitchen after a long day at school and see a hot plate of cookies, muffins, "apple sauce things", etc. on the table with glasses of milk for each of us. So many of my happy memories include food associations. It seems that food has a strong power over us...beside the fact that it keeps us alive!
I think this is why I have always enjoyed cooking so much. Mom and I have argued this point for years. She loves to sew and create things that last. Even though she is a great cook, it isn't something that she really enjoys. She views it more as a neccessity. I am the polar opposite. I don't enjoy sewing on any real level. But I love to cook. Maybe that is why I was given 3 (soon to be 4, including the hubbs) boys. People to cook for that will really enjoy it! I have always felt that food is the great equalizer. There are not many things that can not be worked out, sorted through, or comforted, through food. Think about it. Most of our society's gatherings are centered around food. We meet people for dinner or coffee or drinks. We have people over for dinner. If someone is sick or has a baby, you take them a casserole. It is a connecting thread in all of our lives. It feels awkward to NOT have food in most situations. What would people do with their hands if they don't have something to eat or drink?
Recently, I asked Matt what we were going to do when our sons were teenagers to make them want to be at home. Would having lots of fun activities make them want to be here with their friends? Would having a PS3, a pool table, a plasma tv, a basketball court, make them want to be here? Would having an open door policy with all their friends make them want to be here? Matt had a simple answer: Just keep cooking. I often think about the Stricklands, dear friends of ours. They have three boys, now teenagers and college students. Their boys are always there, usually with several friends. And they always have awesome food cooking. Every time I stop by their house, they are grilling, smoking, baking, etc. And the food is fabulous.
Lately, I have had to shift gears in regards to my cooking. Now that matt has discovered he has high blood pressure and is on a low sugar, low carb, low fat "life style change", cooking has become a challenge. I feel like I am starting all over and am having to abandon many of the great recipes of my childhood. I am learning to cook fish...tilapia, salmon. Growing up, the only fish we ever had was fried catfish. Now, I have to learn how to incorporate these new recipes, this new lifestyle, with the warm memories of my youth. I am going to begin to make a more concerted effort to create these warm associations. I am going to make delicious breakfasts that coax my sweet boys out of their sleepy state in the morning. I am going to have healthy, yummy snacks in the house (hummus, anyone?)...and I am going to make myself STAY AWAY FROM FAST FOOD, even though I am tired. I realize it is a process. I am not aiming for perfection. My goal is to make my home a more comforting, inviting sanctuary...with yummy smells coming from the kitchen that soothe tired little spirits...whether they be 3 or 35. :)