Cooking Together – Therapy I Can Enjoy

I know some of you do not enjoy cooking, and that’s ok. But what if I told you it is like therapy when you do it with friends? I personally love cooking. I don’t enjoy it for myself; I am happy with something grabbed out of the fridge if I am eating alone. I am happiest when cooking for, and with, a crowd. Maybe that’s why for almost 20 years I did live cooking demos as a job. It could explain why I love what I do now (managing culinary events and tradeshows). Perhaps that’s why I have always wanted my own food show.

Friend John M and I have often joked that we should have our own TV show about cooking together. We both love cooking and love doing it together. And more times than not, we end up laughing our asses off. Each of us enjoys cooking alone, but when we cook together, the enjoyment is amplified. We smile more, relax more, and the act of cooking together ratchets up the enjoyment of the meal itself. Sadly we don’t always MAKE TIME to have this happen, but that has changed.

Friends cooking together is more than “many hands make light work”. It’s fun therapy anyone can get behind.

Friend Gemini is going through a rough time physically and LOVES to cook. We have tried to get our schedules to synch up to enjoy cooking together for ages and we finally made that happen. Cooking with Gemini was born! It started with inviting Gemini and her guy John to my house to cook. Then we invited a few other couples where at least one member of the duo loves to cook. I literally had a house full of Johns, as every single man in attendance was named John! Toss in Friend Janet who loves cooking and has some chops, and Friend Lynn and we have a winner. Moment of Truth – Lynn HATES to cook, but she is HELL on clean up and she took all of the pics, so that is her contribution. We intentionally chose menu items that we had never tried before, or wanted to learn from someone else.  We decided on fish baked in a salt crust, which none of us had ever tried to do, and fresh gnocchi. Gnocchi is a personal favorite of mine and I coached everyone through that process. Some prep was done ahead of time, but the idea was to do as much as possible together.

All the tension melted away

At first there was a little tentativeness on everyone’s part. For me, I am very comfortable being bossy, but I don’t USUALLY like to boss my friends around. I needed to get over that and take charge of the flow. For others, they felt in some way like they didn’t want to step out of bounds in my kitchen, or get in someone else’s way. All the tension and tentativeness melted away gradually while we made gnocchi with truffles and garlic and amberjack baked in a salt crust. We laughed while we drank wine and stood shoulder to shoulder to roll gnocchi. Everyone who wanted to “get their hands dirty” was given a job and of course there was shock and a learning curve involved. Especially when we went to crust the fish and realized it hadn’t been gutted…my fault. The Hubs was appalled I didn’t learn to do that in culinary school (they were always cleaned for us). Thank goodness for former Boy Scout John M! He coached me through the process, and it was easier than I imagined with his guidance. A salad of blanched veggies with hearts of palm and sun dried tomatoes rounded out the meal.

Gutted Amberjack stuffed with lemons getting ready for the salt crust.

Hand rolled gnocchi. The lines in this case come from a gnocchi board available at Sur la Table (link above)

Food is so much more than fuel

Most of the folks in attendance knew at least one person other than The Hubs and me, but no one knew everyone. Politics were left at the door. We talked about food, booze, books, movies, games, ourselves and our lives. We got to know one another on a deeper, more intimate level and everyone left relaxed. As if they had gone to a therapy session with a masseuse or a shrink. We had such a good time; we decided to make a monthly event of it. Our next event will be Cajun/Creole themed. It was decided that sticking with one base idea and working off that premise would make a more cohesive evening, food wise. We also decided to keep it small and intimate and only the folks invited to the first one will be invited to future events to grow and nurture these new friendships, to foster the love of cooking and to keep it manageable for everyone to be able to participate. For each attendee, food is so much more than fuel. We all LOVE food, appreciate the details and effort that go into the prep, and revel in the outcome. And doing it all together made it so much more than just a shared meal.

Friend John M removes the skin after the salt crust has been cracked off.

The gnocchi were finished in olive oil with black truffles that came from Try the World in my “Italy box” and fresh garlic

 

To finish off the meal, Gemini brought a gorgeous flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. She garnished with candied flowers and freshly whipped cream and plated it a la minute.

Flourless chocolate cake with ganache and candied flowers

If you are in need of self-care, try cooking with friends. Set up your own cooking supper club. You’ll end up feeding more than your body; you’ll feed your soul and your mind too. Watch for future pics of “Cooking with Gemini” on my Facebook page and Instagram.

 

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