Long ago I cooked but didn’t know the pleasure of it. Long ago I did what needed to be done – pouring in a jar of this or cracking a packet of that – solely because we needed to be fed. I didn’t understand the rich, rewarding experience that cooking could be.
The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. THOMAS MOORE
I am not talking about the Master Chef style event of cooking or the “I’m better than you” soufflé dinner party designed to elevate status. I am talking about the daily practice of making meals, handcrafting the simplest dishes (whether heated or raw) into something wonderful and nourishing (nutritious or not).
So here are my reasons for learning to cook from scratch:
- Home cooked food is fresh and perishable. The ability for my food to be picked at its ripest and most flavoursome, prepared and then needs to be eaten before it is wasted is a delight to me. Food that is overly processed has never satisfied me the way a home cooked meal will. The idea that it can last for weeks, months or years due to preservatives, too much sugar or too much fat scares the bejebbies out of me!
- I know what it is that I am eating. I know what ingredients have been used and I can tailor it to suit my tastes and dietary needs.
- I know where it came from. Cooking from scratch gives me the opportunity to connect to my local providers and grounds me in the place that I live. If you have ever prepared a dish using food grown in your own garden you will know what I mean.
- The accomplishment and skills you will learn from cooking are immeasurable. It is not just how to bake a loaf of bread, but also patience and good judgement to let it rise for just long enough.
- Cooking from scratch is a sensory experience. You are engaging all your senses. From the touch of the produce to the visually appetising display to the aromas of fresh baking or the sound of toasted pine nuts on the pan, all the way to the final tastes as your meal is served.
- Food has a way of bringing you back to the present moment and to the full experience of life. Cooking from scratch is essential for slow living in this busy busy world.
- The skill of cooking is a skill in crisis management. Knowing how to cook means that last minute entertaining, one more day to pay day and sick days can all be managed without scrambling to the shops or having to buy takeout.
- Whether it is magic and love or science, cooking is a marvel of nature. The way that flavours and ingredients can be combined into something delicious. The chemical reactions that go into brewing your own ginger beer, creating ANZAC cookies or thickening a sauce are simply amazing if you stop to notice. Try making pasta from egg, flour, oil and a little salt and tell me that isn’t the coolest trick in the book!
- It connects you to the seasons. In winter I love cooking soups and stews as it warms my body and my home. In summer I prefer salads and light meals. I know that spring has sprung when my asparagus are ready to harvest and I know that winter is upon us when my raspberry plant finally stops providing us with fruit.
- There is belonging that comes from cooking together and even doing the dishes. Sometimes you don’t have the words, but preparing a meal together or helping in the kitchen provides the opportunity to show that you care, that you share this common ground and that bonds can be strengthened through the most simple of acts.
- Cooking from scratch allows every cook an outlet for creativity. Even if you follow the recipe, that meal will be slightly different, slightly more you.
- One of my favourite reasons is this – another chance to live ‘hands-on’. I love practical things and the opportunity to get my hands dirty. To step away from the overly analytical and theoretical aspects of our existence and embrace instead the simple pleasures available every day.
- Of course, cooking your own meals also means that you have control over the waste you produce. From packaging, to food miles, to food waste, it is your choice!
- Sharing food that you have made with care and effort has so much more meaning. My most enjoyable meals have been at home dinner tables breaking her bread, trying his sauce and serving up helpings of my pasta. Simply magnificent.