As a single woman, I lived on chips and salsa, coffee, and more coffee. It was not the best diet, but at the time there was no one else to worry about but me. It was eleven years ago, when I became a mother, that I suddenly became responsible for growing these tiny beings into healthy and happy humans. Chips and salsa was not going to cut it. Cooking didn’t come naturally to me but over time it has become one of my favorite ways to care for my family. There is something about the kitchen and the energy it holds. Being in this space transforms me. It’s as if putting on an apron connects me to a different part of myself. This simple act helps me shift my mindset and I am me, but more aware and present.
Some years ago I read the book Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison. In the book she shares beautiful reflections on motherhood as well as a simple recipe for pretzels. One afternoon, inspired to make this with the kids, I put on my apron, gathered them in the kitchen, and we got to work. There was so much joy that day: mixing up the ingredients, getting our fingers sticky with dough, slapping on the egg wash, sprinkling each one with salt or cinnamon and sugar. Everything else faded away. It was just me and them, flour on the floor, sugar beneath our feet, faces full of smiles. In that moment I realized that it wasn’t really about the pretzels but about creating memories with my children. Connecting with them. Loving them.
Isn’t that really what food is about? We use food to care for others when they are sick or having a bad day. When a new baby arrives, the mama’s community rallies together to make sure that she and the rest of the family is full and fed. We celebrate with cake at birthdays and weddings. So much of our connection with our loved ones and community comes through food. I’m learning that when I cook for others, it’s not about perfection, but about the love that sits in my heart while I prepare the food.
The other day I put on my apron and made this very simple miso soup and some buttermilk biscuits. Next to the biscuits was a big bowl of lettuce which my kids eat like crackers. It was nothing fancy, just a table filled with the foods that make us feel treasured, warm and nourished.
We’ve fought against this notion that the only place for a woman is in the kitchen—and we should. I don’t believe we have to play into the stereotypes and expectations of our culture. Women should be free to choose how they want to live and parent. But the truth for me is that the kitchen is a place I cherish because I know that what comes from and comes to be in this space is sacred. It is here, in the kitchen, where blessings are given and stories are shared. It is here where we fill up not only on food, but on love. It is here where we are all safe. Where we rest. Where we settle in and peel off the worries of the day, layer by layer, in the comfort of our loved ones. It is here, in the kitchen, that we feel the heart of the home.