Thursday, November 20, 2014

What's a frustrated cook to do?

Behind the Vihara, from the terrace
Tomorrow morning, early, I head south to Santa Rosa for two weeks. with my bhikkhuni friends. I am SO looking forward to being there -- seeing these wonderful women who are like family to me.

I've grown since I left there at the end of July. Everything that I experienced and learned over the three months I spent with them has jelled and coagulated and filled my mind to such an extent that my first instinct is to want to kneel before each of them and thank them -- and I just might do that very thing!

To swing subjects completely, I've also noticed lately that I have a deeply buried urge to cook that hasn't been able to rise to the surface for a good while -- because of $$$$$ (or lack thereof) among other things.

I used to really cook for myself. Good food. Trying all kinds of recipes. I still cook, of course, but my budget and expanding waistline hold the variety to quite a dull level. Beans. Beans and lentils, good curries here and there. No wonderful baked creations. I buy basics, but nothing interesting and/or exotic, certainly. I'm well-nourished, but bored.

It's not all money, of course. A real kitchen with counter space, a real refrigerator, a stove (preferably gas) where all four burners actually work. Freezer space. But there's one more missing ingredient: people to share it with. I can only get so interested in preparing complex recipes just for myself.

I'll be able to cook and share in California, of course, but the batterie de cuisine at the Vihara leaves a lot to be desired, plus there is limited time for preparation and rather serious dietary restrictions, so I don't get very complex or interesting in my cooking there. I'm usually happy just to get necessities on the table. There's a big difference in cooking for fun for myself, whatever floats my boat, and cooking full meals around strict schedules and dietary needs. I've never had to prepare regular family meals, so I don't have a repertoire of casseroles or veggie dishes or pasta dishes that go together easily and taste delicious. So -- while rewarding in its own way, cooking there can also be a bit frustrating and hard on the ego.

So -- what do I do with this urge? I envision a kitchen with someone else -- or several someones -- cooking for  people. A lovely kitchen -- everything a cook could ever need -- and appreciative diners. Where and how to do that? Not at a retreat center, a restaurant? Who would hire me to do that? Who would even take me on as an apprentice to do that? Like much else, this is very much a pipe dream.

But worth giving up to the sub-conscious to work on, see what might come along.

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