Cooking Up Chaos: The Conundrum of Creativity
It is a rare moment in my house when the kitchen counters are completely clear, nary a dirty dish in site, the floors gleaming. And usually if they are, it is due to a heroic attempt on my husband's part over the weekend or an evening when I am out at a volunteer meeting. Oh, I try to get it close, but I never quite seal the deal — there is always a stack of school papers on the corner of the counter, or some unfinished art project nearby, or a small child insisting on yet another meal or snack, dirtying up yet another set of dishes faster than I can manage to keep them all clean. It takes JavaDad and having two kids asleep to get the kitchen in perfect order.
And yet, JavaDad knows his work is short-lived, because as soon as the kitchen reaches perfection, it inspires me. It inspires me to... cook! Most of the time I am merely in "survival cooking mode" — eking out a passably nutritious dinner each night on the fly and assembling lunches that are healthy but not terribly creative. Breakfast is very basic — cereal, milk, maybe some fruit. But give me a gleaming kitchen and... my husband swears he hears the theme song to Jaws as I approach... I come into the kitchen with grand cooking plans. Nothing simple, it seems I always need to pull out virtually every pot and pan and appliance to whip out something homemade. I wish I were one of those disciplined cooks who cleaned up after herself as she went, I keep thinking I am — I am almost certain I am putting things away as I go, but when I look back, I realize I have left a trail of disaster much like the tornadoes I used to cover in my reporter days. How come Rachel Ray's tv kitchen never looks like that?
Tonight's mess, I mean creation, was sweet potato and butternut squash pie — after all, we still had both ingredients in our kitchen from our farm CSA, sounded like a great way to use them up — in a way that my husband might actually eat them! Which meant peeling the sweet potatoes, getting out the cutting board and knives, a pot to boil the sweet potatoes, a cookie sheet to roast the butternut squash, a few mixing bowls, the mixer to mix everything together, various measuring implements, some pie pans, and so on. Naturally while putting the marshmallows on top of the pies, I spilled some on the cookie sheets, and they made a very sugary mess on those. That's gonna be fun to clean!Continued on the next page