Stick a fork in it
Starting house projects again (new floors, finishing bathrooms and kitchen – oh my!) has really put my already heightened stress level into overdrive. I find myself in a constant verge-of-tears state. You know the kind, where brushing your teeth causes a “Why me???!!!” kind of reaction. It’s the most ridiculous feeling of being overwhelmed, under-resourced, disorganized and well…this too shall pass. I know it.
Doesn’t matter though. Every single time – these periods of anxiety drive me back to those two old faithfuls for comfort and compassion – the two earthly objects that I cannot, must not, will not do without: a butcher block and sharp knife. Give me a pile of crunchy vegetables over a Xanax any day. I’d rather chop the heck out of a root vegetable then pop a pill. Little else elicits the sort of pure, liquid satisfaction as the pressure of a tight skin and the popping sound it makes as it gives beneath a heavy blade in quick succession. It doesn’t matter what I’m making so long as it’s comprised of something crisp that needs to be broken down to little bits. Recently we talked about how to alleviate some of the stress I’m juggling lately. “Stop making dinners!!” Jer always suggests as a seemingly easy remedy – something to take off my plate, as it were. This man, with all of his glorious qualities, could happily live off Ritz crackers and cheese whiz – a gaping flaw that I choose to overlook. When it comes to these desperate suggestions I end up looking at him, mouth agape, “No cooking?! Seriously?! Why do you hate me??”
On any given day, cooking is the most imprecise thing I will do. The ambiguous science of it all, the mystery of a little heat, a little garlic, a dash of something grabbed from the cupboard stirred with something tugged from the ground – it’s the cheapest way to soothe me. Don’t get between me and my butcher block, is what I’m saying. Fair warning a person is only given once.
On these days, when I find myself facing the (literal) uphill battle of rescuing chicks from hawks, small dogs from a passle of kicking donkeys, goat legs from fire ant piles, and my own leg from the stray spray of urine the buck decides to casually spew in a 180 degree arc – these days – I need 2 burners and a whole clove of garlic. A bottle of olive oil and small glass jar filled with red jewels of pepper flakes. I need the salt grinder in close reach and a pile of herbs pulled haphazardly from the herb garden out front that still limps through a goat-attack recovery. I need an open bottle of red wine – some for the pot – but mostly for my glass. Whatever’s bubbling in there and whatever is half chopped on the counter behind me: does it matter the result? I loosely interpret a recipe but mostly work off smell, hoping for the best and knowing that the end result will fill a belly well enough to lull us to sleep. Above all else and beyond anything: I need to cook. On a tough day, almost everything else is secondary.
Also, a video of a donkey stampede helps. It is just as (un)exciting as one might imagine (Fun trivia: Who was standing behind me for the duration spraying pee on my leg??? Admit it. You want my life).