One of the first thoughts, when I decided now was the time to begin my retirement journey, was “I’ll have more time to cook!” This thought contributed part of the ‘excited’ in my gamut of emotions, and brought a smile to my husband’s face. When I shared this with my wider circle of friends, the most prevalent comment was “I wish I could cook” or “I don’t have time”, followed by “I’ll cook more (learn to cook) when I’m retired”.
Why wait that long?
Cooking is not just for retired people. It’s gaining greater status for the younger generation as well, who are more concerned about what they’re putting in their bodies, do not want packaged or processed food with chemicals, sodium or the like, and the high cost of pre-made food. People of my generation who have existed on take-out during their working lives are getting into it too, and are starting to cook seriously in their 50’s and 60’s.
We Late Boomer women were probably the last to grow up with the expectation we would become homemakers when we grew up. If we had a job out of college, that was fine… until we married and it was time to quit work to have children. The idea of having a career and a family at the same time was not particularly common back then – or encouraged. In Junior High (we didn’t have Middle Schools) the girls took Home Economics classes, and the boys all took Shop. We were pigeon-holed at a very young age in a way subsequent generations never experienced.
I hated what I called “HomeIck” with a passion. I hated sewing aprons with a machine. I hated aprons. I hated cooking Swedish Meatballs or doing anything with the ubiquitous cream of mushroom soup. I hated it all because I knew I would have to either eat it or wear it later. It was my lowest grade. I was 13, hadn’t even hit puberty, and I had already failed at Womanhood.
I had some serious explaining to do when that report card came home. I still remember it with a shudder.
My mother is a very good cook, and at 12, I started learning the rudiments of cooking even before HomeIck. The first dinner I remember preparing for the family was the Roasted Chicken recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Sounds pretty impressive until you learn that all you do is slather a chicken with butter and salt and then roast it to melting deliciousness. You just can’t go from that to Swedish Meatballs without a fight. Fortunately, Mom understood, and convinced my dad the best punishment for me was to start cooking on a regular basis. The lessons began that summer in earnest.
I quickly discovered if you like to eat the result, you like to make the product. I also learned you don’t have to cook every night to be able to feed yourself or your family well. Cooking in larger quantities on the weekend and then switching the vegetables out with the leftovers during the busy work/school/sports nights not only kept my family fed without recourse to processed food, but was economical as well.
Having a son who was diagnosed with high cholesterol at age 5, takeout food or anything pre-made was not an option for us. Lots of vegetables, fish, poultry and whole grains were What’s For Dinner, with the occasional treat of beef or lamb. We were able to hold off medicating our son for his cholesterol until he was 18 as a result of this diet.
Cooking is going to be the first bit of creative expression I indulge in once I move to part time status. As more of my time frees up, I’m planning on experimenting more with food and flavors. I’ll be posting recipes here, and they are the real thing. I do not leave any ingredients out, and yes, I will post pictures. You will be able to easily make the same meals I do, and hopefully enjoy the process. If something doesn’t work out for you, leave a comment, and I’ll be happy to explain.
What is a journey without Company? Join me. Aprons optional.