I know all too well the stresses of the kitchen. Being a chef requires the kitchen to be your home for an entire day—and sometimes an entire week.
Cooking and baking are strenuous tasks. From standing over a hot stove to kneading bread vigorously and everything in between, sometimes I forget to have fun and enjoy what I truly love to do.
When I started culinary school, my first professor handed us a paper listing all the reasons why we shouldn’t become a chef. At the time, I thought it was a rather interesting way to introduce culinary school. If it was supposed to scare me away, it honestly would have worked. Later, I learned that I truly was going to face some extremely difficult tasks; but, I also realized soon enough that the hard work would be worth it.
I speak of my experiences as a culinary student and from the viewpoint of a professional chef. However, the home cook can experience many of the same difficulties. Finding the time to cook is one of the hardest tasks. Many come from working a full day to doing homework with children, to taking care of a home, and more. Yet, through all of that, they are still expected to prepare one to three meals a day. I can attest that it is possible; and, it can also be fun.
I find there are many ways in which the kitchen can go from being the dreaded room of the house to the place where the greatest creations, the most laughter, and the best smiles are made.
Make What You Love
It all begins with cooking for yourself and making what you truly love. When you feel like cooking is an obligation, it often loses its appeal. So, I believe that if you are excited about your ingredients and the recipe you are preparing, the task will become more enjoyable and enticing.
Simplify Your Recipes
Even when throwing a party or cooking with company, the dinner shouldn’t be stressful. In those instances, you want the food to be great; but, you also want the time to spend with friends and guests. Don’t plan something so extravagant that you get lost in the kitchen, slaving away and forgetting to entertain as well as feed.
Simple recipes and meals don’t mean that you are trying less or that the food isn’t as good. Even the easiest of recipes have their place and can often taste better than something with 30 ingredients. I have always been told that quality is better than quantity. In moments like a party, this expression has never been truer. Focus on making simple recipes the best they can be. Whatever you do, don’t over-complicate the situation by adding more ingredients, more recipes, or more food to prepare.
Enliven Your Atmosphere.
The atmosphere of the kitchen is so important. A lifeless kitchen can lead to less cooking or even no cooking. Since cooking should be appealing, make your kitchen an exciting place to be. In my home, music is always playing; therefore, the kitchen becomes so alive and inviting when I have the chance to sing and dance while cooking. Although it might sound silly, try adding a few dance moves to the cooking process. Not only will it lighten the mood in the kitchen, but it will put a smile on your face and just might make the food taste even better.
Secretly, it has always been my dream to start a flour fight while baking. While that would create a huge mess and I probably will never do it, the idea that I could have fun like that is what attracts me to bake. Allow yourself to get a little messy. Play with your food, no matter how many times you have been told not to. Make your kitchen more tempting by adding the small elements of fun in whatever ways you enjoy the most.
Share Your Creations
Finally, the most important way that you can make cooking fun is by sharing what you create. When you cook for others, it allows you to see how much your food is truly loved. Watching those excited reactions can inspire you to do more, to make more, and to truly enjoy cooking. Your friends and family are cheering you on and begging you to cook because, even if you aren’t the best chef, a home-cooked meal or a home-baked dessert is thrilling. Be confident enough to share what you create because it’s beautiful and deserves to be shared.
Although the culinary school chef’s initial approach may have scared me, I stuck with what I love to do, made the food I love, and now have the opportunity to share my food often. I get to brighten people’s days with meals and desserts. Even with all the stresses and difficulties that come with it, cooking is what I love to do. I firmly believe that if you make what you love, simplify your recipes, enliven your atmosphere, and share your creations that you will not only come to love the kitchen, but also have fun in your kitchen.
Brontë E. Mock
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