I’ve donned an apron more in the past week than ever before in my life. Truth be told, I have never even owned an apron. This is not because I’ve thought I was too good, but because I – or rather, my cooking – wasn’t good enough to warrant one. So I’d half-heartedly heat up this and that, and do my best to avoid bacon splatters and the like.
But, last month I turned forty and now I’m all grown up. Immediately following my Decade Change, the holiday season came charging. This season, I stayed on Maui instead of traveling back to the east coast. But I’m a nostalgic soul, so I decided to bring some traditions from Christmases past to the tropics– and more specifically, to my kitchen. I took a deep breath, then started researching, shopping and cooking.
I’m pretty sure that my mother’s spirit came to sit with me in the kitchen, likely spell-bound that her kitchen-fearing eldest daughter was taking the plunge. And I felt myself standing comforted in her footsteps; my mother’s nightly ritual was to cook dinner with the news on while sipping wine and playing solitaire. Children and husband were barred; that was Her time.
So with my mother watching over, I bound spices in cheesecloth and warmed them in wine for glögg, Swedish mulled wine. I kneaded cold milk and eggs and meat until my hands lost all feeling, and rolled some eighty Swedish meatballs. I baked gingerbread cake and jam-filled cookies – all this in my little kitchen that doubles as a hallway. There is no counter to speak of so the meatballs rested a top the coffee maker, and bowls of ingredients were stacked on the fridge, the toaster and even the garbage can lid; my sense of order was tested to the max. I strung white lights, played music, hummed along (okay – belted out tunes badly) and cooked and baked. And it felt, well – it felt really, really good!
I know we usually make resolutions for the upcoming year, and I’ve done so oh so many times before. “To cook” has been on the list more than once. But sometimes you don’t have to try quite so hard; when the moment hits you, it hits you. As I type this, I’m waiting for my Cappuccino-Walnut brownies to cool. And I’m wearing my brand new, very pretty, and quite stylish, apron. Oh, how times change. Thank goodness they do. Happy New Year!