I have important advice. Some of you already know it; some don't. It deserves sayin'.
I've cooked since the time I realized that, without my mother around, food wasn't magically appearing on my plate. But cooking has always been basic for me, designed for mere subsistence.
In the past few years, however, I've gotten deeper into it as a creative pursuit. Trying new ingredients, inventing new dishes. I find the activity satisfying, not least of which 'cause you get to eat nice stuff at the end.
The normal tendency when you're cooking for only yourself or a partner is to do the least amount of work and skip effort at presentation. But I've learned that putting in a little more effort and, especially, presenting your food attractively can transform meals from ordinary to special. And that generates real pleasure.
I imagine I'm making food for other people when I'm cooking for only myself. I create dishes from scratch and adorn them nicely. Then, as I sit down to the meal, I think "Wow! What a beautiful plate of food!" I find it hard to believe that I made it. I consume the food feeling like a patron of a high-class restaurant.
In addition to heightening enjoyment, studies show that meals cooked at home are dramatically healthier than food consumed out. And that's not even considering the disaster of fast-food.
Two things that can stimulate us to want to cook at home more are good ingredients and spices. I go to local farms and green-grocers for superior vegetables. Trying new seasonings will enliven routine dishes. Sure it's a little extra effort but you're rewarded with nicer meals, better health and smiles of culinary satisfaction.
Yesterday I visited a local farm and saw something I'd never encountered before -- "Mediterranean zucchini." It's bigger than normal green zucchini and purple; it looks like an eggplant. I fried it with bread-crumbs, plated it on top of a thin egg-frittata and accompanied it with a side of wild rice full of garlic and spices. Yumm!
How much effort do you put into your cooking?