Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dinner Is Not a Surprise

All day, I looked forward to coming home to cook dinner and have the whole evening to myself. When I get to make whatever I please, I usually go for something vegetarian. Since my husband's a meat-and-potatoes guy, a plateful of veggies is my ultimate luxury. Tonight I cranked up my cooking playlist and made a batch of African pineapple peanut stew. Everything about the experience made me happy--chopping thick slices of fresh pineapple (watch out for the leaves on top, though, or they might just nick your hand), fragrant cilantro (no, it doesn't taste like soap, as a friend of mine believes), and vibrant green kale (just wilt it down and you're good to go).

There's something therapeutic about cooking. It's one of the few things that makes me feel both nurtured and nurturing at the same time. I go though on-and-off phases with cooking, but the "on" times nearly always accompany contentedness for me. I like knowing that, no matter what else may be happening with my day, I can get into zen chopping mode, creating something healthful or yummy. Tonight's dinner proved to be both, my favorite kind of meal.

Not every night can be a cooking night, at least not for those of us who could use some help in the discipline department. After attending a personal organization class a few years back, a friend of mine shared something she'd learned. "Dinner is not a surprise," she remarked, wide-eyed and laughing. "'It comes every day,' my instructor says, so you might as well find a way to be ready. Dinner's not a surprise," she said again, "Imagine!" I'm aware there are plenty of people in the world who've already mastered this concept, but I, like my friend, was stunned and delighted by this revolutionary idea. As such, I relish nights like tonight, when everything comes together and I actually get to cook.

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