Every couple has a story of what brought them together. An introduction, an event or a shared passion. But what keeps two people together…well…for us, there’s always room for two in the kitchen.
I’ve always been a food lover. As a kid I was more apt to pull a block of cheddar cheese and a bottle of mustard out of the refrigerator to top on Triscuits for my after school treat than go hungry until dinner. I entered cooking contests in 4-H, happily took cooking classes in junior high and was known for my sandwich making prowess by my pals in high school. While my college roommates were eating nachos from 7-11 for dinner I was steaming broccoli for Chicken Divan, of which they happily shared in the spoils.
As a waitress through high school and college and then again after graduation and in between figuring out what my “big career” would look like, I learned even more about how to cook from watching real chefs work their magic. How to make drawn butter, what in the heck mise en place meant and how to explain the not so subtle differences between Dover sole and Scottish salmon.
But more importantly, the restaurant is where I met my husband.
From the beginning of our relationship as waiter and waitress bumping into one another in the restaurant kitchen, we shared a love of creating and enjoying good food. I say good food, not necessarily fancy food because while we were surrounded at work by Belvedere martinis and king crab legs with beef tenderloin, our finances leaned more toward sharing our favorite clam dip with potato chips and a six pack of beer while watching Monday football.
We cooked together for the love of it.
While other couples might go to the movies on a date, we would head to the grocery store or restaurant supply to wander the aisles. He would poke and fondle the various cuts of packaged meats chatting up their marbling and aging processes. I lingered longingly over the package design of vinegars and oils and happily splurged on that $7.00 package of specialty pasta.
Hand in hand we’d stroll the aisles as if we were in Paris on the Champs-Elysées instead of Surfas, Trader Joe’s or Ralph’s.
It didn’t matter if it was a weekend or weeknight, it was never a question of, “What are YOU going to make tonight,” but rather, “What are WE cooking tonight?”
The event of cooking has always brought us together.
Weekend mornings is when we’d create our master plans, watching Food Network to more often than not fix whatever Tyler Florence was cooking on that morning’s episode. We’d shop at the farmer’s market, find delicious freshness to bring home then invite friends or neighbors over to share a bottle of wine and the homecooked love that came from our kitchen. Music played, wine flowed and lots of talking and laughing.
We’ve always been a team in the kitchen.
While he is generally in charge of the grilling and and hazes me about cleaning up as I go, he’s equally as dedicated to spending an entire day creating an authentic Pho while I dream of one day becoming a master baker and am happiest when seasoning my homemade salad dressing with fresh herbs snipped from the garden.
The kitchen and the event of cooking has always been our comfort zone.
And then, our daughter was born. And everything changed.
After being married for over a decade and living footloose and fancy free, our lives became centered around shuffling chores in between nap times and moving our eating habits around feeding times.
Suddenly our daily shopping dates to the grocery store were few and far between. Instead they became solo adventures while the other manned the mother ship at home because wandering the grocery store aisles meant packing enough baby supplies as if we were heading for a weekend getaway not to mention a grocery cart wipe down that would make Monk proud.
And so, the “event” that surrounded our love of cooking took a back seat.
But just as life does, just as fast as all of that change happened, right before our very eyes it made its way back around once again.
Strollers were replaced with roller skates and baby food made way for the request for spaghetti tacos. And where grocery store voyages used to be an adventure for two, they’ve now become a family affair.
Our nightly cooking adventures are even better and more creative now that there are three cravings to satisfy rather than two. Sometimes that means dinner for breakfast, less spice in the spicy sauce and an additional 15 minutes it takes for one 9 year old to dice mushrooms as we practice spelling words to the latest song from One Direction instead of The Drive By Truckers.
But it’s all part of the creativity that comes along with cooking and sharing our foodie ways with our junior sous chef, whether she realizes it or not.
Because as a couple we were a great team in the kitchen. But as a family feeding our passion, we have a recipe that can’t be beat.
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