I Cooked for Sanity

I'm a freelance writer and photographer of some 20 plus (that's as far back as I'm willing to own)  years experience.   I've always been someone who has to be learning something in order to feel like I'm moving forward in life... not a boil on the backside along for the ride. I need to learn.

I've always loved cooking and entertaining -- perpetually fascinated with the creative culinary.  When I was a kid I adored my Saturday mornings watching PBS; Yan Can Cook, In the Kitchen with Julia, The Frugal Gourmet --  they were the best!  (I was an odd child, that's all I can say.  I had trained chickens,  they did tricks and laid eggs! Who could ask for more?  Youthful entertainment and non-violent protein production in one package!) As a sixteen year old gal, I would host small groups -- creating lavish dinner parties for my friends -- spaghetti being a favorite of all those participating!

While in college I entertained as often as I could afford. A group of students and staff with whom I toiled in the University Libraries, and in the Educational Media Center Darkroom (I worked my way through school with two jobs; library assistant and darkroom assistant.  The written word and photography were converging in my life even way back then.), would gather on my tiny apartment for dinners, potluck, Euchre, Trivial Pursuit games. (This may be trivia but I've never been beaten in Trivial Pursuit -- I guess that makes me a trivial queen? -- hum -- maybe not.)   

My tiny patio was always the location for an End of the School Year Lobster Boil.  Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Salads, lots of butter and beer, and of course those lovely crustaceans from Maine taking a sauna on my little stove! It was good fun for which we impoverished students saved up half a semester. But it was worth it!  Laughing as butter ran down your chin, noshing lobster, quashing beer, no more studying and writing endless papers!  We were free and we were happy -- at least until the next school year began.

When I was relatively newly married (Being married -- now that alone was a shock to my independently minded sensibility!) with a brand new baby, I left a research position I absolutely loved in order to follow my husband to a new state, new town, new life.  Here was I, stuck in a small city I hated, no friends, a three-month-old infant daughter dependent on me for life itself, and no job.  I was absolutely undone.  My husband was teaching on television so he was never at home. 

I'd never stayed home before. I'd always gone to school.  I'd always worked. I'd always earned an income. Since 14 years of age, I'd earned an income.  I was vested in Social Security when I was 24 for cripes sake!  All that hanging around the house stuff was hard to take. I desperately needed something to do with my time!  Something besides nursing my daughter and changing the endless diapers that were a direct result of the nursing, rocking, singing, bathing. That was my life -- caring for my daughter. I loved, loved, LOVED taking care of her but needed something for just for me, something to make me feel less like a boil on the backside -- just along for the ride.
It got so bad that I would get my daughter down for the first of her countless daytime naps, then with wing-ed feet and red pen in hand, rush to the front door to grab the local newspaper. Promptly sitting down, I'd edit the newspaper!  Yup, for fun I edited the local newspaper.  And believe me, that literary tome dedicated to life in the small city in which I found myself trapped (caged, just like a little ferret in a shoebox, comes to mind) needed all the editing it could get. This sorry activity,  I'm loathe to admit, was the highlight of my day! 

But it did have its snarky satisfactions. I recall one December 7th, the headline (the great BIG headline) read Sailors Remember Pearl Habor...  Hummm, just who is this Pearl Habor and how did she become such a good friend of the sailors to warrant such strong memories?  A few possibilities immediately came to mind -- most of which were pretty interesting.  (I should have cut that one out and sent it to one of the late night talk show hosts. Letterman would have had a field day with that one.)

Then one fine day we were connected to cable TV!  I had a window to the outside world!  I could watch my husband teach in the morning, allowing me a glimpse as to the sort of creative ensemble he put together for himself before I was awake (and some were quite creative -- nuff said about that). But cable opened my cage.  There was a wonderful creative world outside the room full of baby toys, the town full of nothing, and a nifty new channel called The Food NetworkIt was like Saturday mornings -- only all day long-- all week long!  I was neck deep in culinary intellectual nirvana!  I was learning again and life was good!   

I never looked back! That network became my salvation from podunk hell! I began rattling those pots and pans in earnest.  I cooked for creative expression.  I cooked for amorous expression.  But mostly, I cooked for sanity!

I have been obsessed with cooking ever since.  Three of my great loves, cooking, photography, and writing, converge in this blog.  It is a form of expression that encompasses most of the pursuits I hold dear and have helped make me a living over the years.  That and horses, which is another story -- and another blog.  If you're interested in reading about my life with horses, visit another blog of mine:  thepingchronicles.com. 

That's how I got here and who knows where I'm going.  But, as long as I'm moving forward and learning something, I figure I'm not just along for the ride.

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