This is my birthday present this year. There was a time in my life when this might have offended me-a kitchen item. But today, it thrills me. I know it's just a pot but it's cast iron-it will likely outlive us all, it cooks everything and it is RED.
I do not consider myself a great cook...yet. I am just in training. I figure by the time my kids go to college, I will be-and it will be wasted on meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I am a pretty good cook most of the time. I have a few recipes that I have really gotten down. I have learned a ton over the 17 years of being married and cooking for someone. I learned that fresh ingredients make a giant difference. I only use kosher salt and table grind pepper. Some short-cuts are fine but when it comes to grated cheese-always grate your own, it is a ton better. I love kitchen tools-especially my mixer and my food processor. Drinking wine and listening to my Ipod while cooking is therapeutic. And, a sous chef would be very nice!
I have also learned that my husband will eat ANYTHING, and rarely complains. At first it annoyed me that he expected me to cook-I thought it was rather degrading. I figured out after all these years though, it is how he feels loved. That is the only expression of love I have seen in the home he grew up in. I have never actually heard his parents tell him they love him-or each other for that matter. They just do things (acts of service) to show it. He is so very thankful to have a meal cooked for him-partly because the man just loves to eat, but also in part because I believe it makes him feel loved.
As a result, it has motivated me to get better and better at cooking for him. How do you get better? No magic pan, no magic cookbook-just plain ole practice. His mom told me that a long time ago. I am no longer in a hurry to be this great cook-just trying to open my mind to methods and techniques. And along with that attitude, I am slowly improving. Oh, and I have been adding great kitchen tools along the way. I don't plan to win any cooking contests or go on a cooking show (I am no Pioneer Woman); I just want to show my husband love the way he understands it.
I come from a place where we were very vocal and expressive so it did not come natural to me to express love through acts of service. But I am getting the hang of it, and it works! My husband is a different man when I make him something yummy for dinner. It lifts his spirits the way only someone loving you can. And I do love him.
I have a similar theory about cooking as I do with skiing. If you are a good cook/skier, then using the best of the best cookware/ski equipment will only make you better. However, if you suck at it, using the best stuff really won't help you. So, had I gotten this very fancy pan for a gift some 15 years ago-I might have been annoyed-and it probably wouldn't do me a bit of good in the kitchen either. I got married not knowing how to boil and egg. I also thought of cooking as sort of demeaning "woman's work". And as a working wife and mother, I did not embrace it right away. However, now I do. I don't find it demeaning at all. In fact, sometimes I hear my husband tell someone what a great cook I am, and it makes me feel so good. I had no idea how something so simple could make people so happy. I love it! And it has made a world of difference in my life.