I was telling my husband on Sunday afternoon how refreshed I was feeling after the Thanksgiving break. It’s surprising, in a way. I spent much of last week cooking and baking, and I spent a fair amount of time organizing and cleaning. Putting on a Thanksgiving feast for 8 adults and 5 children is hard work, despite the fact that I loved every minute of it.
I should have been worn out, both physically and mentally. Instead, I felt inspired and rejuvenated.
Being totally immersed in a creative project — and cooking is definitely that for me — seems to have a snowball effect. The more I create, the more I want to create. And so, despite having a PowerPoint presentation that I needed to work on over the long weekend (which doesn’t count as the kind of creativity I was going for), I found projects to keep my mind and hands busy.
One of those projects that I dove into this weekend was cooking from Jennifer Perillo’s first edition of her new quarterly journal, Simple Scratch Cooking: a homecook’s journal for making easy, everyday meals. The issue is a beautiful 13-pages filled with recipes and essays written in the style of Jennie’s blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen. I’ve been reading In Jennie’s Kitchen for several years now, and it’s one of the handful that I go back to regularly.
Last night, I roasted some turkey thighs and wings along with some aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, and garlic). The next step was to make stock from the roasted turkey and vegetables. I was tempted to make the turkey stock last night, but I didn’t have the energy and I had a banging headache starting up.
This morning, I woke up with that same headache. After a trip to the gym and a bowl of cereal, I swallowed some ibuprofen and started cooking.
I started with turkey stock. Those roasted turkey parts simmered gently in a pot of more aromatics, some thyme, chicken broth, and white wine. Slow bubbles rose to the surface before breaking and releasing the most heavenly aromas. As the house filled with scents of Thanksgiving over the next two hours, my headache slowly disappeared.
I am a collector of cookbooks, but it has not always been this way.
My first cookbook was an early version of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, and I received a short, thick paperback copy when I went away to college. I’m pretty sure my parents gave it to me, but it could have been some other well-meaning high school graduation gift-giver. I remember thinking that it was such a sweet gift, and I put it on my bookshelf where it remained until I moved, then it went into a box with other kitchen items, then back onto the bookshelf in the next apartment. This cycle repeated more than a few times.
I received another copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book when I got married. That book, a larger hardback binder version with five metal rings holding the recipes inside, went onto the bookshelf beside its older, petite sister. They stood side-by-side for another five or six years, rarely moving off the shelf and definitely not getting the attention they deserved.