Monday, 5 March 2012 | 64 comments

Home cooks, high fives

In truth, I’ve been glad to have a brief retreat from this space. I’m a person who enjoys (perhaps over-much) stepping back and assessing. What am I doing here? Increasingly and amazingly, after a year, that question could now be phrased, What are we doing here? We! Writer, reader! That change of pronoun is exciting itself. Thanks for that, everyone.

Can I tell you something, though? When I step back and do my assessing, I feel distinctly uneasy.


I’m one of the lucky ones. Cooking comes easily to me, and I love it. Being conscientious about my ingredients, too, is easy for me: I am young and don’t support a family, and I’m not easily deterred by the potential inconvenience of something like farmer’s market shopping. I like vegetables. I am rarely too tired to cook. It’s a pleasure, something to which I look forward.

When I write or post pictures here, I want to encourage people to cook, be present when they eat, and live well within their means—without being preachy. I am much more dogmatic than I convey on this site about food. If your friends aren’t necessarily like-minded about such issues (and many of my real-life friends are not), though, this doesn’t make them want to consider the miles their tomatoes traveled. You know what does get the discussion started? Cooking them dinner.

This prickly uneasiness, though, crept in recently. I think it’s this medium. The internet is good for so many things and is such a useful tool. I’m humbled by the way it allows someone as silly as me to share ideas with people. The enormity of the “food blog” community is striking—possibly only rivaled by the seeming insatiable public demand for these spaces.

It seems a good time to be a home cook, doesn’t it? So many resources: so many places to turn for inspiration, so many recipes, so many gorgeous images. With all this information, with all these inspiration boards filled with “Food I’d Like to Cook”, we should all be cooking, all the time. Right?

Somehow, though, I suspect that’s not the case. Is it that we’re a little on overload? It’s like there’s this smoke alarm going off in America’s collective kitchen. Instead of figuring out why it’s going off and trying to make it stop, everyone is shouting at each other really loudly, and we can’t hear the alarm anymore. (When I imagine this metaphor, the shouters are yelling out things like, “QUINOA” and “FARM TABLE” and “CUPCAKES”.)

Emphasis on food and the life around the table (and the beauty therein) is a good thing. But I worry: prettied-up food, perfect mise en place cooking, celebrity chefdom, and just a general fetishization of food—-these have distanced us from the do-able, and from those things that we need to be able to do to cook to fit our everyday lives.

Sometimes cooking is messy and smoky. It almost never looks like it came out of the pages of a lifestyle magazine. Some of you have a kid hanging on your leg while you try to put dinner together. Yes, those meditative, dreamy moments kneading our bread dough or slow afternoons simmering soup—those are real, and they are to be celebrated. But it’s not always like that.

I’m scared—literally, scared—that our appetite for actually cooking is squelched by this avalanche of information and images of what is, for many of us, an unattainable everyday table.

…………

Awhile back, I worked in a local WIC office. The WIC program is imperfect and challenging. But it was one of the more rewarding jobs I’ve had because I got to work directly with women, mothers, babies, and hear about their lives around food. These are lower-income, usually single and/or working mamas who work hard to just get food into their kids’ bellies. They’re tired, and they don’t have much time to cook.

Their vouchers were good for dried beans, but not canned ones. As in, the kind you have to soak overnight or simmer for hours to cook, rather than just opening the can. More than just being inconvenient, though, a lot of the ladies we worked with literally didn’t know what to do with dried beans, so they weren’t using them. And who could blame them? Not very many people do it nowadays.

I remember the day that we realized this. For everyone else that came in to the office and clinic that day, we explained how to soak beans. Eyebrows, as well as the time-constraint complaints, were raised. But guess what? Several weeks later, I was high-fiving clients over stories of bean-cooking success. Moreover, they were bringing in their time-saving techniques. It was just cool. It was community.

I want that sort of empowerment and energy at the Yellow House—the real deal, not just getting glossy-eyed by the glow of our laptops. I hope I haven’t contributed to this bizarre, 21st-century voyeurism that paralyzes, rather than compels, us to cook. I hope I’m not increasing the noise to signal ratio. Maybe that’s hoping for too much.
.

All I know is that I think you all are awesome. I think we’re doing out best to hop around, flapping the dish towel around under that smoke detector to make it stop.

Thank you for cooking. Thanks for thinking it’s important.

If anyone wants a high-five, you know where to find me.

§ 64 responses to Home cooks, high fives

  • Such a great post to read on a Monday morning, Sarah! I agree with everything you say. Often my kitchen is a disaster, I’m covered in flour from head to toe, and my battery is currently sitting outside my smoke detector (don’t tell the fire marshall!)

  • Sarah! Thank you for this, wow.

    Empowerment, encouragement and high fives in the kitchen were the reason I started my blog and you’re speaking to it all perfectly. I think having the enthusiasm to cook already makes it easy for peeps like us to throw down in the kitchen and share it. I can see it being overwhelming for a lot of home cooks though, so many ideals and images spinning around in the mind. The internet creates that push and pull.

    Thanks for reminding me why I visit your lovely space :)

  • YES. I think people forget that a meal doesn’t have to be steak and mashed potatoes and green beans and bread and dessert. It can sometimes be just a baked potato. Or bread and butter with vegetables (radishes are a favorite). Or chickpeas with onions and tomatoes.

    Tamar Adler’s book “The Everlasting Meal” touches on this a bit, though it’s a little too, “this is exactly the way to do it and everything will be perfect for you” kind of a way. Which is maybe just a mischaracterization on my part, but I hate people telling me what to do. :D

    But yeah – celeb chefs are totally overrated. Which is why my favorite part of my favorite TV show: Anthony Bourdain: No reservations, is when he is abroad and gets invited to dinner at the homes of people of modest means and they cook up something cheap but wonderful. That’s what we should be aiming for, I feel, cheap-but-wonderful. And no, $0.99 chicken is not always the best use of cheap.

    Anyway, ramble, ramble, ramble. Suffice to say – I feel ya on this one.

  • Emily

    crazy-busy med student here. I love to eat, and I also really love to cook. It’s the way I wind down or take a break from studying. It’s meditative; I love taking the time to wash and chop vegetables, hear them sizzle, smell them cooking. I do most of my recipe-hunting online, which overall saves me time and money–I don’t have the money nor the storage space for dozens of cookbooks.

    I love your site; anything that inspires me to actually get in the kitchen and cook is so worthwhile! If it has to be beautifully photographed to inspire, so be it. My eyes like the inspiration too.

    Thanks for acknowledging the messiness of real cooking, but keep the posts coming! :)

  • High five! Simple is good.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more lady!! lovely post, in the end its all about inspiring people to cook. I too, never tire of being in the kitchen, I never come up with excuses, instead I come up with ideas to spend more time in there. Hows the new house? Is it garden time yet :)

    • It is garden planning every night here :) baby kale getting a head start on the windowsill right now; soon it’ll move out to a cold frame!

  • Yes! I couldn’t agree more! I see boards and boards of food on Pinterest, and always hope that actual food is being made too! I love to look at beautiful pictures of food, as well, but physically being in the kitchen is definitely where it’s at. On my blog, I aim to tackle both the successes and missteps in the kitchen to talk honestly about baking. I’m often talking about baking seasonably and locally, (hopefully!) in a way that is not intimidating, but relate-able.

    Thanks for this post, I’m so happy I found your blog!

  • Wow, what an eye opening story! It doesn’t sound like the system is working for these women in a very practical way (at least in regards to food), but I love how you still were able to positively affect the situation. I truly believe the slow food movement, or any movement getting people to cook in their homes, requires one-to-one investment in others. It takes real effort and time to help others affect change in their lives, more than just a pretty blog post. It takes community, just like you wrote!

  • Oh, the Pinterest age…so much pinning and not enough doing, right? Thanks for writing this, Sarah. You never fail to help me open up my eyes to the world around me and remember to take pride in those little but oh-so important things like simple cooking and high fives. I think the most important part of being part of the ‘food blogger’ community is educating one another and those around us; to remind ourselves that not everyone knows that they must soak dry beans before cooking them, and it is wonderful that there are people like you out there taking the time to show and give them the skills to make theirs and their babies’ lives a little easier.

  • A wonderful read for my Monday morning. This has been on my mind a lot, lately. What you said about your friends not exactly sharing your sentiments toward food and cooking – I’m there with ya.
    I actually posted some thoughts about authenticity today that I feel go hand in hand with this idea — that what we post should be real, accessible, approachable for people to feel like they could make it for dinner tonight, rather than just pinning it to a board.

  • My boyfriend and I had a conversation of a similar vein while cooking dinner last night. There was a story on a local public radio show last week about the prevalence of food in social media these days and how it might not actually be changing the way we eat. (It’s since gone national; it’s featured on The Kitchn today.) I enjoy learning about food through social media, sure, but I think the only way you really LEARN about food is if you get in the kitchen and make it yourself. Social media is a little overstimulating; it’s definitely, for me, an overload like you mentioned. Reading stories of cooking rather than looking at pictures of food is what motivates me to get in the kitchen. Thank you for another wonderful post, Sarah.

  • Thank you for the thoughtful post. There is this huge gap between what is actually an attainable way of everyday home cooking and the the beautifully curated glamor shots we see online.
    In my own food blog, I often focus on the basics of cooking because I’m not some master chef, with culinary secrets and expertise. I just think we should all try to eat well. The food blogs with the fancy recipes and perfectly edited photos can be discouraging. Thanks for the reminder that we aren’t striving for perfection, just a healthy lifestyle! Cheers!

    p.s. This is my first time reading you’re blog and I’ll definitely be back!

  • Katie

    I too wanted to mention “An Everlasting Meal.” I’ve been thinking about sharing it with you since I finished it a few weeks ago…funny that it came to mind for several of us here. I think the exact opposite of the reader above though – I think the book is all about starting where you are, with what you have, and being confident in your abilities to make the most of your time and ingredients. And that when you screw up, it’s okay and you can adapt. If you’ve put something real and wholesome on the table, even if it was made from leftovers or vegetable scraps, you’ve succeeded, and that success is going to motivate you back into the kitchen tomorrow. I think that it speaks to exactly what you’re saying here: that we don’t need all the noise of celebrity chefs and Pinterest boards, but rather, quiet celebrations of wholesome food cooked with care for ourselves and our loved ones. Thanks for the quiet celebrations you provide here…*high fives* :)

  • Arlene

    Thoughtful and lovely. None of your blog posts has ever appeared “preachy”. They seem to simply say that comfort and companionship may be found at the table – even if the smoke alarm went off. Your stories are on the right track. I have every reason to believe that your readers will let you know if your message changes.

    Thank you for the lovely site and introspection that you allow us to share in.

  • A couple of months ago I found a link to your blog and am happy to have found you. Several years ago I needed to make major diet changes due to health issues. In the course of my exploration and inquiry into food I began to think a lot about how people eat in various indigenous cultures of the world. Among the many things I learned was that they generally eat very, very simply. Sometimes only one or two or three food items at a meal. We live a culture where almost any food item under the sun is available any time of the day or night, it can be challenging to impose “limitations” on oneself. But I know one thing. Eating very simple meals has radically improved my life. Food is easier, happier, more nourishing., and much more relaxing.

  • High five for this post! I agree that cooking has unfortunately been elevated to a pedestal where it may begin to seem unattainable to inexperienced or busy home cooks. And it doesn’t have to be that way. I have three young kids and not much time to spend in the kitchen, so I try to remember that it is easy to get nourishing food on the table quickly. I have started posting daily recipes to inspire others to do the same, always with the reminder not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good: use what you have! Make it easy for yourself! And funnily enough, I posted a “recipe” for cooking dried beans a couple of days ago, with exactly this topic in mind: http://emmycooks.com/2012/03/01/how-to-cook-black-beans/ I hope that the combined sentiments expressed here are the beginning of a little bit of a movement away from perfect-looking cooking as seen on tv or Pinterest and in the direction of the real thing.

  • What a lovely assessment! Sonja and I were just discussing these exact thoughts last night! We want to share a joy of preparing and eating real food with people — not to encourage an unattainable ideal.

    Thanks for sharing!

    :)

  • I enjoyed this quite a bit and had so many different reactions to your words. I’ve had my blog for nearly five years and in that time, so much has changed. Food blogs in particular seem to quadruple each night, and far too many of them avoid discussing what you’ve so eloquently written here. I’ve always been a home cook, whether raising my now adult boys, whether working, or both. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s easy, often it’s just plain interesting. But we always enjoy it — and yes, I still purchase and soak dried beans :)

  • I so appreciate this post and your acknowledgment that it is a very special thing to be able to source ingredients you feel good about putting in your body. It often feels difficult for me to find balance between the ways I feed myself and the injustice of the ways many people are forced to feed themselves. As home cooks of any kind, we all have the unique privilege of feeding people, and that is such a beautiful thing.

  • Hear hear! The program you were a part of sounds wonderful. Education really is key. People need to know what to do and how to do it and then, most importantly, to be able to enjoy and share their experiences. Awesome once more. Oana

  • Eloquent, timely, and relevant, Sarah… as usual :-)

  • I want a high five! Loved this post for so many reasons. I have devoted my life/day job to helping folks just cook and often that’s beans (through Cook With What You Have http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com) ! I LOVE beans and am trying to spread the general love of simple, everyday, not fetishized cooking. Thank you again for articulating this so well here.

  • You’ve given voice to so many half-baked ideas that I find myself mulling in free moments. But I’m not sure that I entirely agree. Is it that we don’t have enough time, or is it more that we don’t make the time? Dan Barber made a great point in an interview about that and about money; when people complain about not having enough money to buy organic/local, he asks them how, then, can they afford their cable TV and their iPhone? The analogy is so much the same with time. I like to hope, perhaps naively, that I inspire people to cook. I ran into a friend at the grocery store last night who said, I always wish that I could have your recipes with me when I’m here so that I remember what I need to get because everything you make makes me want to cook. Lately I’ve been leaning heavily towards simpler cooking, which I hope does inspire people to cook. But it’s true, as you say, that when we start from a place of not even knowing what to do with dried beans, how will we ever even cook with them? And, yes, signal to noise. There is so much noise on the internet. I love what I’m doing, though, and hope that it’s not just more noise. :)

    • I’ve been mulling this over for the past few days and I have to say that I’m with Kimberley on this one. I do love composing pretty plates of food and photographing them. It satisfies me on a creative level but also, I believe a compelling image can motivate behavior, and more than anything, I want people to cook what I blog. I get comments like “I’m baking again now that I’ve found your blog” and “My family has gotten an entire month of meals from your blog”. Those are the comments that keep me going! So yes, I think there is a ton of noise out there, but some of it cuts through and motivates people to cook.

  • A link to this post was all over my Twitter feed this morning – so glad I clicked it! Your words have given me so much to process – some of this has been brewing in my mind, I but I hadn’t been able to articulate it yet. Thank you for such a thoughtful, well-written and timely post.

    And, what a lovely space! I sadly hadn’t discovered your blog – I am off to spend some time reading. :)

  • *sigh* this was a lovely post to read as I keep thinking, why do I blog; do I need to tumble, pin, tweet, etc etc too…does it really mean anything in the end? In the end, I started blogging years ago (I’ve changed blogs and names since then…ironic, my latest is yellow house cafe!) to let my muse sing a bit. I’ve not much to say, but enjoy when someone stumbles upon, reads and then responds. You’re right. We do need to sit back; savor and appreciate our lives.
    High-five, indeed. The WIC ladies, and those who take the time to soak those beans, learn a patience that I bet blesses their food, too. ~

  • This is such a great post and I totally agree with what you’re saying. I think people nowadays watch more programmes about food and talk about it more than they actually cook! I adore cooking but even I’ll fall prey to these ideas of perfection – sometimes if something burns or doesn’t quite turn out the way I want my boyfriend will make me take a step back and say ‘hey, it tastes incredible, we’re happy, so what if it’s a bit burnt/messy/late? That’s life’. Your blog is a total inspiration so please keep up the good work!

  • thank you so much for writing this! I’ve always loved cooking and have become increasingly concious about the ingredients I use. Cooking has always been fun and relaxing for me, so I decided to start a food blog. It’s been a couple of months now and I already feel anxious and overwhelmed: I feel I have to post awesome recipes all the time, but I am not a professional cook, nor a full time food stylist/blogger. I am just a college student who loves good and healthy food. Your post helped me remember that my blog was meant to be about simple food and a passion for cooking. Thank you!

  • Thank you for writing this post, Sarah. It always takes a little bit of courage to make a stand and forego with the usual story + recipe formula. Thank you for reminding all of us that we should all be here because we love baking and cooking and feeding the people we care about and that sometimes, a lot of the time, even, that can be messy. I hope that we’re not contributing to something that paralyses would-be home cooks.

    Just know that if I end up growing collards out back this year, you’ll certainly have had something to do with it :)

  • I could not agree more. It’s a little bit disillusioning, as a blogger, to see the intense importance placed on how it looks on the page. That’s not why I blog, and I know that’s not why you blog. Sure, we eat with our eyes, but when we cook for our families and our friends, what matters is that we are all sitting at a table together. Ultimately, that’s the meaning of community. Like you, I also hope that we’re not just making it worse. It’s good to be the voice that whispers “why?” even if it takes a while to be heard in the cacophony.

  • What a thoughtful and thought provoking commentary. As a food blogger myself, I hope that I am providing my readers with inspiration, encouragement, some entertainment and workable, accessible recipes. I share my kitchen misadventures and how I learn from them, as well as my successes. I hope in that way I am helping cooks who are still building their confidence to feel less intimidated. Yes, I want my blog to look appealing but my photos rarely look like they belong in a magazine. I remind myself from time to time that my inspiration for starting my blog was to pass my recipes and love for cooking on to my children, and anyone who cares to read my little corner of cyberspace. That helps me stay grounded and less focused on how many ‘followers’ I have and whether my pictures are as nice as others I see out there.

  • Thank you for this. :-) Over the last few weeks I’ve been turning my computer off and getting back to LINGERING in my kitchen, or my garden, or with my chickens/geese/goats/ducks/turkey. I feel life surging through me and my appreciation is so much more acute. I love my little online world, but it’s not my only world. I’m so grateful for the chance to live in the country and cook because I love it and because I have such a willing guinea pig in my man. :-) Thank you for reminding me that it’s OK to love the simple life. :-)

  • Good morning, I am new to your blog … since one or two posts ago … and have been enjoying it immensely. I cook, a lot. I am responsible for feeding the family, but I don’t only cook out of necessity or responsibility. I cook as a way of sharing this life with those that are around me: family, long time friends, and new acquaintances. I often wonder if the reason more people don’t “share” food is that they fret over living up to impossible expectations and they give up before they begin. It would be ludicrous for all of us to walk around looking like the models we see in fashion magazines – I think we all can see that easily, but when it comes to food, we are tricked into thinking it all has to be a photo op. It doesn’t. I think everyone I know enjoys a good bowl of lentil soup, but no one ever invites people over for ” just soup”. Why not? I think that this generation, I am a bit older, is going to surprise us. They are creative on steroids and have access to more information than ever before – it is letting them realize that they can do anything. We have seen the revolution in the craft world and now are seeing it in the cooking world as well. When the dust settles, I believe there will be a plethora of folks that will come to realize that soaking there own beans is really quite doable, and that they can make satisfying meals … And they don’t have to do it in high heels and fake eyelashes. Carolina

  • A great big high-five to you, who is awesome :) Thank you for writing this.

  • Hey all—just wanted to take a second to thank you for your incredibly thoughtful comments. I actually took awhile to respond to many of you personally, because there was such diversity in your replies (although, hearteningly, it seems like you all have my back on this one :) ) I can truly say that I didn’t think many people would read this (and that was okay; I just needed to get it out.). Thanks thanks thanks thanks for sharing so much. –S

  • Coming late to this, but also wanted to give a big hearty high-five and YES! to your post. One possibly related thing that I’ve been thinking about recently is that with SO MUCH inspiration on the Internet it is easy to get caught up in constant new-ness, but familiarity is what’s really comforting at the table. I do, quite often, cook recipes that I pin on Pinterest (in fact, the site really helps me plan menus, waste less food, etc.). And I love trying new recipes and learning about new foods and all that. And yet, and yet…more and more I realize that the most satisfying things to cook, and the most satisfying things to eat, are the things I’ve made over and over again. But how to convey the importance of that in such a fast-moving medium? Thanks for your very thought-provoking post.

  • I just found your blog (via Lottie + Doof) and was drawn to your great photography. I´ve been reading different posts for 20 minutes now and you´re having a calming effect. Unexpected and very welcome. I´ll be coming back regularly.

  • Lovely post. I love to cook most of the time but can get worn down with the daily must make dinner for the family thing. But experimenting and tweaking recipes are some of my favorite things to do. Although, my eating audience is a bit finicky – one 6 yr old with limited acceptable foods and 1 husband with a growing list of foods he cannot or will not eat which make cooking a challenge sometimes. But I love a meal of fried egg sandwiches or baked potatoes…or baked beans on toast. And I find it surprising sometimes to realize that so many people did not grow up cooking alongside a mother or grandmother or aunt like I was fortunate enough to and so don’t know even some of the rudimentary things that will get good, simple food on the table.

  • High Five indeed. Well said.

    I have dreams of changing our food system. I have been bouncing ideas off of various friends and other local foodies of reaching out to low income families and teaching them how to cook for themselves, by doing things like yes, cooking a bag of beans. (I’m a fan of throwing them in my crock pot myself.). Sometimes it feels overly ambitious and when I start going on and on about my ‘plan’, I can see where people think I’m slightly nuts.

    As for my own cooking, it’s always an experiment. Sometimes it turns out good, sometimes we toss it and order a pizza.

  • Athena

    I’m new to your blog and find it so refreshing. Many years ago I was one of those young mamas who was on WIC, and I would’ve appreciated the tip on soaking beans :) I know all too well about the food and failures that arent posted on my blog, the unglamourous side is what my life is more often than not as I’m really just learning now how to work my way around the kitchen. Thanks for a thought-provoking post on this lazy Sunday morning, and high-five!

  • When I cook for family and friends they are often alarmed when I set off the smoke alarm – I guess an alarm should indeed be alarming. But they treat the situation as if I should be embarrassed, as if that was some sort of kitchen sin. In my mind I consider it a great success when I set the smoke alarm off (unless the house is indeed on fire) because I know that I am really cooking. The process is messy, ridled with accidents – many of which morph into new recipes. I get great joy when those who are afraid of the kitchen watch me work and see that it’s very imperfect.
    Thanks so much for this post and the reminder to show the imperfection and the nit and grit. It’s all part of the process and there is much to learn through it all. Wonderful post.

  • Cooking has meant many things to me over the years. Your post really speaks to me as I try and simplify and focus on good taste, health, and uncomplicated preparation.

  • Jennifer Gregory

    Stumbled upon your little corner of the internet a few weeks ago and I am instantly smitten with your homey at east approach.

    Fast forward to this post. As much as I love to cook and try new culinary things, your post touches on exactly the reason I have not successfully had a blog for my cooking or professional endeavors. There so much static out there, it’s just hard gosh darned hard to hear the message.. I doubt I have anything to say that hasn’t been said already. So I just sit quietly and do my thing.

    And I have to say, you aren’t yelling or over the top and being looking like the next celebrity chef. Quietly is sometimes the way to get people to listen.:) Maybe I’ll start a blog someday that will work. But right now I’m content to just listen.:)

  • Absolutely adore this post. I think it hits upon a larger theme, too. This Internet age where things move so fast and I find myself “falling behind.” But I don’t *want* a Pinterest (sp?) AND sometimes I forget about Twitter and sometimes I Just want to drop off the whole grid and move to Montana.

    Anyway, thanks for this. Your site is so lovely!!

  • I’m not even sure where to begin here, because I am still thinking, after reading this post several times, about how I feel about all of this. As a food writer, I’m definitely in the mix of ‘overload.’ I pin, I follow blogs, I submit photos to Tastespotting and Foodgawker, I try to take pretty pictures, and as much as I can, I try to be original. But, lately, being overloaded with recipe development for my own site and subscription service, as well as some freelance opportunities, I’ve been struck by the same thoughts. Sometimes I just want to EAT. And I don’t want to make anything with dried beans or quinoa. And I want to just dump it in a bowl and have dinner ready in 10 minutes. I agree with you that some of the lifestyle blogs (including my own, sometimes!) suggest an unrealistic lifestyle for most folks. It’s aspirational, certainly, but it can also be overwhelming. I love this idea of getting back to the realdom (if only just by acknowledging that we’re not always as perfect as our pictures).

  • Amy

    Hi, I’ve been following your blog for quite awhile now but this is my first time commenting. I just wanted to ask if you’ve taken a look at or read the book, “The Table Comes First”? It came out earlier this year, and it’s a really striking book about how in an age where we’re more obsessed than ever about just “what” we should eat (i.e. vegan, paleo, no sugar, etc) we’re belittling food by passing over it’s real signifiance and meaning in this world–how it can move people together and provide happiness in an otherwise tragic world (paraphrasing, there). Anyway, it’s kind of a stretch to relate it to this post, but I really thought of it. Because both the book and your post shame me into realizing that sometimes I am more concerned with producing a “blog-able” dish that looks pretty enough to photograph, causing me to make it earlier in the day when there’s natural sunlight or blah blah, you know the deal, instead of just wanting to make a comforting, good meal to share with me and the people I love. Food shouldn’t be depreciated down to the level of advertisements, it should be about how it connects us to those real things that matter in life. Sorry for such a long comment, this post just got me thinking. Anyway, point of this whole ramble is that you should check out The Table Comes First if possible. And compliments to your blog, I think it’s lovely.

  • Thought you might like this blogger’s take on a similar subject: http://bferry.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/honesty/

  • A high five to you from my kitchen in Australia! Your post (and your blog) is a breath of fresh air in an often homogenous landscape of food.

    You’ve articulated a growing feeling of uncertainty about the overwhelming amount of information on food and the increasing visual fetishization of it. Sometimes with all this looking, reading and comparing we forget to actually enjoy the process of making.

    Thank you for a timely post, for some much needed food for thought.

  • I’m here from Australia also, via Georgia’s blog above. Yes yes yes! While I truly appreciate the beauty, talent and styling behind these magazine-style photos, I linger longer on those that are daily life captures. That attainability is I guess more than just the recipe itself, but the feeling that you’re sharing in the moment around that blogger’s table. As if you’ve invited us to sit at the table in the photo above while you share your thoughts and flavours. And we can imagine with the rest of our senses what is past the borders of this scene – rain on the window sill perhaps, or the sound of a dog barking next door. I find that I’m also becoming less critical of my own photos taken in the kitchen – in essence I’m becoming more confident to extend that invitation to others to join me at my table too.

  • jennifer

    Thank you for writing such a thoughtful entry – I have recently started blogging about all matters of the home and life and cooking is a major part in my life – and I am one of those women with the small child tugging on my ‘apron’, while he’s always involved, it’s not always as easy as it was before I had a wee one on my side…you’ve inspired me to write about ‘real’ cooking, but with pretty pictures…some of those pretty pictures may have a little hand or foot in them though, my little one always ‘helps momma’ in the kitchen … yes I agree, dried beans are much easier to cook than people think – I cook them all the time…

  • I just arrived at your blog, and I think this is a beautiful, intelligent, well-grounded, ethical response to all the imagery and showiness surrounding home-cooking. I love that it brings it back to what’s meaningful, not just aesthetic, and I love this blog. Following you now! Thanks for such an authentic and reasonable voice, friendly and funny and refreshingly well-tuned.

  • Kate

    I love this!!! You made my day. Thank you!!

  • What a lovely post, i’m surprised i’m just coming across your blog now! I can definitely agree with this post though! It’s all so true. I want to cook more healthy, just simple,, good meals, and I just need to make the time. It’s inspiring! Thank you.

  • Oh my goodness, I remember this post the first time I read it. I was decluttering my emails and feed archives today and came across this post again. It was so needed. Part of the reason I was digital decluttering is exactly this – I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed by cooking and food blogs! It’s got to the point where I register nothing in my mind when I see food in the fridge or in the fruit and vegie store – no ideas of what to do with it. This is because I’ve become overloaded with information, pictures, conflicting health messages etc. So I’m cutting back again and finding a new balance. Already after the declutter today I went into the kitchen and whipped up one of the salads I’m famous for. Which I hadn’t made in many many months. Thank you for your insight.

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