Five Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

November 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

Hello! This is Jen, back for a quick post born out of a slow and reflective Saturday. My sister has done an AMAZING job with her last few posts, and has been brainstorming a few more ideas she has to share. I am so happy to share this creative arena with her, and am proud of her recent accomplishments in obtaining her board certification in Music Therapy! We are looking forward to a family Thanksgiving this year, that I will be hosting in Boston for the first time! I am sure that my sister and I will tag team a few posts featuring some of our family’s favorite holiday recipes and some that we are looking forward to trying! For now, I am excited to share some reflections that cooking has taught me about life.

1. It is okay to eat pizza and drink beer at the end of a really long week.

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Currently, my fridge looks more like memories of my fiance’s college beer fridge than my normal, well-stocked produce preserver. This is a result of a LOT of recent traveling. Last week alone, I drove 650 miles, interviewed at 5 residency programs in 4 cities, and picked out the menu for my wedding. By the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted. After a really brief trip to the gym, all I could think of doing was ordering a pizza, having a beer, and not moving for at least 12 hours. That is what I needed to recover in preparation for another tiring round of interviews, and so that is what I did.

Too often, I become regimented in life, and in eating. I feel guilty about my only vegetables for the day coming in the form of baby carrots on the fly or on top of my take-out pizza. I feel guilty for not filling my free minutes and hours with friends I haven’t talked to in weeks or chores that are slowly piling up. I am learning that, every once in a while, it is ok to just let go. Eat pizza. Sleep in. And refresh and recover, so that the minutes you do spend with friends and family are more enjoyable.

2. The more you learn, the more you realize that there is to know.

While I have spent a lot of time cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, there is still an entire world of cooking knowledge that I have yet to acquire. Similarly, I have spent the last 8 years of my life in higher education pursuing the now-near goal of becoming a physician. However, I know only the tip of the iceberg about medicine and patient care. I will spend the next 3 years in residency learning how to be a family physician, and then the rest of my life reading, practicing and growing that knowledge base. One question answered means that ten more are raised, both in and outside of the kitchen.

3. Some of the best meals, and the best parts of life, require patience…

Original photo from Frugal Feeding, click through for the recipe

Some of the best things that have come out of my kitchen involve slowing down and paying attention to details. I love making homemade pasta and ravioli, and continue to hone my skills in this art. My most exciting purchase this fall is a pasta drying stand – I have only used it once, but it has so much untouched potential! Since incorporating meat back into my diet, I have also fell in love with braising techniques. My fiance proudly advertises that my version of this Greek Lamb with Orzo by Frugal Feeding is better than a local restaurant’s.

Similarly, as with these meals, some of the best things in life are worth waiting for. Right now, I seem to be in a season of waiting. Waiting for my fiance to hear back about medical school acceptances. Waiting to finish my last year of medical school. Waiting to match at the right residency program. Waiting to get married. Waiting to start the next chapter of my life. All of these are incredible blessings, and will be worth the wait. Cooking slowly and waiting for the delicious results has taught me the importance of patience in the process.

4. And sometimes you just need instant gratification.

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While homemade pasta and braised lamb have their place, so do quick meals and snacks. In this season of waiting, I have learned that there is also a place for instant gratification. This weekend, I needed to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. With an empty fridge and no desire to get out to the grocery store, I looked to my pantry for something quick and easy to make. I settled on Chocolate Covered Katie’s Healthy Nutella. If you haven’t made your own nut butters before, try it now. All you need are 15 minutes and a food processor! I love this drizzled on apples, but would also be great on toast in the morning!

5. You have to learn how to go with the flow.

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In my need for instant gratification today, I decided to make Apple Butter Bread. I had some leftover Homemade Apple Butter that I knew would not get eaten on time, but no eggs and no loaf pan. Instead of finding another recipe, I simply replaced the egg with ground flax-seed, and turned the loaf cake into muffins by reducing the cooking time to 20 minutes. The result? Delicious. Sweet enough to be a dessert, but also healthy enough (sans glaze) to sneak into breakfast. Not only does this flexibility matter when cooking and baking, it also matters in life. Even the best planned schedules fall prey to life. Responding calmly and thinking of alternative strategies can help even the worst days run more smoothly.

Question: What life lessons have you learned in the kitchen?

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Entry filed under: Ramblings. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Cucumber Grilled Cheese Thinking of Thanksgiving

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