This past week, Katie and I went back to a simpler time. Simpler in that Francis was spending the week with family, so it was just the two of us. Usually this would mean a few visits to restaurants or bars not conducive to a four-year-old, but with the world we are in, that was not an option. Additionally, Katie had nightly meetings with the parents from her school in preparation for the new year. Thus, I had to figure out things to keep me busy each evening.
There are some shows left to watch on Netflix and pages to be read in a few books, but I decided to get out of my comfort zone and do something very out of the ordinary, cook dinner. Now when I say cook dinner, I mean some more complicated recipes. This is not to say, I do not occasionally cook. If you ask Francis, I am a great chef as his PB&J sandwiches, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets are very tasty. Now when you ask Katie, she would say I try hard. I was going to try extra hard with the below dishes:
- Tagliatelle with smashed peas, sausage, and ricotta cheese
This meal turned out alright. If I make it again, less peas and a little more water to help make the sauce creamier. It made for a good lunch the next day as well.
- Garlic butter grilled steak and shrimp with homemade garlic bread and grilled corn
Enjoyed this meal, however I had a few too many dishes going at once which made for a stressful few minutes. Everything finished about the same time and stayed hot which was a positive. We did have some leftover steak which made for a good steak and egg breakfast the next morning.
- Haddock with homemade lemon caper sauce, rice and blackened green beans
Probably my favorite meal but used a bit too much paprika on the green beans. The fish was very fresh and making a homemade sauce was not that hard. There were a lot of different spices used which made me realize why people have spice racks.
Looking back at the week of cooking I learned a few things and it made me think, cooking is a lot like life.
1. To have a meal you need to go to the grocery store to get the ingredients. Now, I know the various departments throughout the store and know where to pick up items when Katie asks me to, however looking for a specific item (an item you do not even know exists) has led to a few employees approaching me asking if I needed help. This is very similar to life, in that there are moments when we are wandering without any clear direction. Even when we get direction, we may learn of different options, options which can enhance our lives.
2. Sometimes you must make changes to the recipe because you do not have one of the ingredients. I needed cumin and thought we had it at home (granted I did not know what cumin was) and only upon seeing we did not have it, did I learn we could use paprika as a substitute. In life, we must be flexible and be open to change. We may have what we believe is the perfect plan, but life changes. A new family member comes along, a previously unknown virus emerges, anything can happen, and you must make the best of the new circumstances.
3. Once completed with the cooking, it is finally time to enjoy the food. As described above, the food was good and there was not anything which was inedible, and no one got sick. All in all, a win. However, the cooking was more fun than the actual eating. I was running around with no idea what I was doing, while at the same time Katie and I had great conversations while she watched at times my frantic situations. This is like life in that sometimes, if we allow ourselves, the journey can be more fun than the destination. Over the prior months, I have really tried to remember, no matter what was going on, I needed to try and live each day to the fullest.
Looking back on the week, I have certainly enjoyed being able to spend uninterrupted time with Katie, but I think both of us would agree we are excited to see Francis. Cooking new recipes was fun. Now I could say I will cook a new meal say every week, but I am not going to get too ambitious, my goal is to cook two new recipes a month. I will let you know how that goes.
Please see the cartoon below, which I am sure many of you have seen before, but I was reminded of again this week.
As you look to the weekend, consider trying a new recipe. Do you have a recipe you think I should try? If so, please share.
Stay safe and healthy.
Chris Zeches, CFP®