Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Kitchen

A kitchen is more than just a kitchen; it can be the Jerusalem of a home--a hotly contested piece of real estate.

I love to cook. There is nothing I love more than to produce a meal for other people. I love the chopping, peeling and stirring; the delicious aroma of a meal in the making. Most of my friends will at one time or another have joined me in the kitchen either to talk as I cook, or join me in said chopping, peeling or stirring. I would happily have been Brother Lawrence, the monk who worked in the kitchens of a Carmelite monastery several centuries ago, and who wrote a book The Practice of the Presence of God.

Wikipedia writes of him:

He was assigned to the monastery kitchen where, amidst the tedious chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he developed his rule of spirituality and work. In his Maxims, Lawrence writes, "Men invent means and methods of coming at God's love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?"

Amen, Brother Lawrence!

The small kitchen in Mum's flat in Alvechurch, is Robert's domain. I learned a few years ago, to respect that. I had arrived and taken charge, thinking to give him a break, only to realize that he was happy in his own routines and didn't want or need rescuing from his kitchen sink and stove and who did I think I was to barge into his space?

I have learned to hang up my apron and enjoy being waited on!

But today I gently asked if he would like me to cook dinner, and yahoo, "Yes, that would be nice Belinda," he said.

So we went off to Sainsbury's and bought some nice lean, Irish minced beef, and the kitchen was mine for the afternoon!

I took my royal blue apron, with the big white words, "What Would Oma Do?" from the hook behind the kitchen door. I browned the meat with a little red onion (not too much,) added some Bisto gravy, topped it some fluffy mashed potatoes, followed by grated Cheddar cheese and some sliced tomatoes with some fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of salt. The Shepherd's Pie was soon popped in the oven, along with an apple crumble--not a fancy meal, just plain, good, wholesome food.

Nothing is lost on the neighbours here. Anne said to Rob, "I see your sister's cooking dinner." The elderly gentleman from next door, Percy, looked through the window and said hello. I felt like inviting them in but restrained myself!

I consulted Robert on the oven temperature and the doneness of the carrots--he is the Alpha cook, after all.

It did my heart good to see him and John (Rob's son) and Mum, eat a meal that I'd cooked, although I held my breath until the first bites were eaten.

I knew that my mission had been accomplished when John said, "Were you taking notes Dad?"

Ahh, all is well in Belindaland.


Dave Hingsburger said...

Ah, I love cooking for others too. The idea of nourishing someone, of making something that will become part of someone, is incredible. There is a spirituality to preparing food and you've caught that here in your post. All will sleep well in Belindaland tonight.

Marilyn said...

Ah... why does everything seem more wonderful in England? I have romantic notions about it.

Is there a better place than the kitchen for prayer, singing, humming, having room for the big thoughts to roll around and stretch?

And it really isn't about the food, I don't think. It's about creating an environment where things can happen. I love seeing people come together and enjoy food - the simpler the better - and each other.

Deidra said...

What a gift to be able to prepare a meal for those you love. And to share it with them around a table brimming with warmth and love. Such simple, wonderful treasures!

Susan said...

I read this again - for the fifth time today. That should tell you something. :)

P.S. My favourite memory in the kitchen of Belindaland - of hundreds and hundreds - is peeling apples while you rolled out the pastry and put the pies together.

Anonymous said...

As I was reading, my mouth began to water ... sure sounds delicious. -- Jane

Poppy said...

Dear Bel(Q)- You took your apron to England with you!!!?!Poppy

Susan said...

Jane, me too. It was Thursday, after all, when we read this! :)

Belinda said...

Hey Poppy,
I have aprons everywhere! :)