You are currently browsing the daily archive for February 13, 2011.
I have made no secret about the fact that I am not a housekeeper. Nope, no Donna Reed genes here. And I am not much of a cook. (Hence, my Facebook status this morning: “I’m cooking. Alert the media. And the fire department.”) But sometimes, it just has to be done.
The kitchen in the Cottage is sizeable enough, but has about a yard of counter space. If I don’t do dishes for a few days, it looks like a scene from a dish station in a college cafeteria. Piles and piles of them. When I wash them though, they quickly consolidate down to a 10-minute dish washing session and a neat stack in the little dish drainer. I wish I were like my Mother, who could never sleep if there were dirty dishes in the sink. She’d have get up and wash them.
The first dishwasher I ever encountered was in the house Pat and I had up in the mountains for a few years. I loved it. But I hated unloading it. Ever before that and ever since, I’ve always had to wash dishes by hand. Since I’ve never known anything different, I guess it’s what I’ll live with. The new house doesn’t have a dishwasher either (though it also doesn’t have a stove, refrigerator,washing machine or dryer, so I might cough up the extra money for a dishwasher if the kitchen is plumbed for one.)
This morning when I was washing dishes, I encountered a pot that I had been soaking because I had burnt whatever I was cooking onto the bottom. Hey, that’s how I roll. Or cook. It was a cheap little pot, a WalMart purchase when I moved into the Cottage with no utensils or cookware. I contemplated said pot. I started scrubbing. Not much happened. I contemplated said pot in a different light. I could toss this pot, I thought. It was cheap anyway and I’ve almost destroyed it. Then I remembered a conversation that I had a long time ago with my former guy. I think it was from a book he had been reading. But it was about a monk who was instructing an American about living in the moment, and finding the peace in small things, in doing a task well. In this tale, the monk was talking about washing his one bowl, and spending time – like half an hour – washing a single bowl that had contained only rice. It was about becoming one with the bowl, and healing, and consciousness. I remember at the time we discussed it, we liked the concept, but didn’t see how we could ever have the time to devote to washing a bowl as the monk did.
You know how you remember things. It all comes together in your head in a blink, is processed and is gone. But as I looked at that little pot, I remembered that moment in time. And so I went back to work on the little pot. I scrubbed, rinsed, scrubbed, rinsed, scrubbed, rinsed. I put some muscle into it. I put some care into it. And finally, the little pot was as sparkling clean as the day I bought it, a day when I remember a country music song about starting over at my friendly Wal-Mart running through my head. Now I’m trying to start over again, just not at WalMart.
So now, the makeshift stew is simmering on the stove. Beef, peppers, chiles, okra, tomatoes, a little red wine. Pretty healthy, even if it does have carbs. I have learned not to knock the entire closed container of a spice into the pot. I have learned that yelling “Stop!” at the spitting oil in the pan does not make it stop spitting. I have learned that aprons are my friends.
I know that tears can add a touch of needed salt to a dish.
And I know that it takes patience to create something bright and delicious in your life.