Cooking at Home 1/4/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Having a kitchen again is quite the treat. I guess you don’t really think about it until it’s gone, but having your own kitchen, being able to cook your own food, and being the boss of your own culinary future is wonderful.

A few years ago, my slide into oblivion seemed to have hit rock bottom as I was without a home and begging my friends for a place to stay. Now, there are a few disclaimers I should make here. First and foremost, my friends stepped up to the plate. Three in particular opened their hearts and their homes and blessed me with a bed and a roof, and, for no doubt, far longer than they had hoped or anticipated without so much as a peep of complaint. They’re the absolute best.

Second, my friends made it clear that I was free, and in fact encouraged, to use their kitchens, but I never did. There are some things you can’t live without; I did avail myself of their bathrooms for showers, but I never felt comfortable utilizing their kitchens. It takes space to store food, first of all, and costs them money if I eat theirs. Not only that, but as far as kitchens go, hygiene takes on special significance. Don’t get me wrong, keeping their facilities clean is important to begin with, but the kitchen is truly critical.

So, for a few years now, I’ve been living on fast food (inexpensive as I never really had much money), chips and anything that didn’t need refrigeration. Little things that I could drag into my room and nosh without making a noshience of myself.

Yes, pun intended.

Today, I finished unpacking my kitchen boxes. There are a lot of things I wish I still had but have lost through the years, but I’ve also rescued more than I thought. I purchased a couple of sets of cheap plates, and I saved my favorite ones. I’ve lost things like my toaster oven, but I saved my ‘80’s era microwave THAT STILL WORKS. They just don’t make stuff like that anymore.

But at the same time, I’ve also had to relive one of my more difficult moments in life. When my so-called beloved wife told me that she wanted to trade me in on the sex offender she was sleeping with, I found myself in a mega we-sell-everything store. The goal was to get enough things to live. I bought cheap pots and pans, cheap dish sets, cheap silverware, cheap towels, cheap lamps, pretty much everything you need to reasonably survive. I was very ashamed the entire time, thinking that anybody looking at my cart surely knows that my wife kicked me out. For a man who never wanted to be divorced, it was truly a low point to my life. That was about fifteen years ago. Give or take.

This past week, I got to relive that beautiful memory. Yes, sarcasm intended. I bought a new set of pots and pans, utensils and even silverware, but fortunately I didn’t have to buy a lot of things like plates and towels (although I did realize recently that I need dish towels). Now the main thing I need is food. Real food.

There’s a reason that men need women. We’re…not smart. As much as I’ve enjoyed cooking again, I’ve been cooking as if I’m back in college. I’ve been eating sausage, and cheesy shells, and pizza rolls as if fruits and vegetables have yet to be invented. This morning it caught up with me. Yesterday I ate a pound of sausage, an entire stick of butter, and a ton of milk (yes, sausage gravy, but biscuits? Who needs biscuits??). It didn’t stay down. It was just too much, so after spending a night with a new cat and an old friend called “acid indigestion” it all resurfaced this morning. That’s not a good thing, but it serves me right.

Even with this physiological response, it’s marvelous to be cooking again. I need a few more things before I’m completely unleashed (like spices and wrap for leftovers) but I have to admit, I am really looking forward to getting back into it. Among my required pots and pans, I also picked up a wok. In case you didn’t know, you throw a wok at the wabbit. Anyway, stir-fry is how I learned about spices. It’s marvelous to be able to start with a basic recipe and just experiment with spices, adding a bit of this and a bit of that just smells like it would be a good thing. Plus, I usually stir-fry with chicken and spinach as my starting ingredients, and of course it has to be made with rice.

So, maybe another trip to the store and I’ll start cooking in earnest. I can’t wait. There’s a certain freedom in cooking in your own kitchen. Especially when it’s sufficiently healthy that you don’t fear getting too far from the toilet.

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