My oven broke right before Thanksgiving last year. It was so old the repairman couldn’t fix it, which didn’t really bother me. I wasn’t hosting a big dinner. Our family couldn’t gather due to the pandemic. There wasn’t a vaccine yet. I was hunkered down and hoping to survive the winter. So, living without an oven seemed like a minuscule inconvenience. I was perfectly content using my little toaster oven for, well, toast.
I’ll confess, I’m not a baker. I doubt my epitaph will include any mention of my ability to cook. Don’t get me wrong; I cooked for my children and they, in turn, learned to cook for themselves. Now, they are healthy adults with healthy appetites, so I don’t think my lack of interest in cooking grand, elaborate meals did too much harm.
There are days when I wish I was that kind of a person. My future daughter-in-law is into baking and I admire her so much. It’s such a warm activity. It’s toasty. It’s comforting. It’s nourishing. It makes the house smell great. And the results are delicious 🙂
During the summer, as the vaccines took hold and supply chain issues emerged, I began to think ahead to the holidays. This year, I might need to bake something for more people than just myself. I went shopping for a new oven, placed my order in August and am happy to announce it just arrived!
It’s beautiful clean interior and bright shiny exterior seemed too perfect to spoil but I thought I should give it a test run. I decided to bake corn muffins. Now, I have this tendency when I’m cooking to think Oh, you know what? I’ll just go downstairs and sort through the mail or start the wash or do something in my office . . . it will be quick.
It’s never really quick and this time around, I came back upstairs to find the oven alarm going off (Oh good, it works!), the smoke detectors chirping (Oh good, I don’t need to replace the batteries yet!), and my cat meowing under the bed because he had no idea what all these new noises were about (Oh good, I have those melatonin calming chews to feed him!)
Yep, I burned the muffins.
I think this year of no-oven living has highlighted a few things for me. First, I’m more interested in people than food. That’s why I coach and write and consult. Second, I view food as a vehicle to gather with friends and family. The isolation of covid has impacted that greatly. As we re-emerge, I’d rather get together at a restaurant, focused on catching up with friends while supporting local business than cook a meal at home. Third, with the holidays upon us and a brand-new oven, I’ve been thinking maybe now is the time to learn a new skill . . . like cooking!
Oh, who am I kidding? I moved my laptop into the kitchen next to the oven so I could write this blog, hoping the baked eggplant parmesan doesn’t burn.
That said, I plan on cooking a turkey and baking pies for Thanksgiving. I’ve promised myself I will try to pay attention. I really will. But just in case, I bought a bunch of candles that smell like pumpkin pie and apple cider…