By age 10 I wanted to be able to cook or to prepare meals and desserts on my own. In part because I love to try and figure things out AND I also knew it was a way I could help my mother out AND (best of all) it's product could be enjoyed and admired by many!
So I started small, with the usual scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, pasta. It went well, but I soon discovered that the real reward (and compliments) came with desserts! I went through a huge kick where I made pudding. Thinking more about that it must be in my genes because my daughter went through a flan phase at age 10...gosh did we eat a lot of flan in the Zobitz household in 2008. I even took cake decorating classes for most of my middle school years. You should have seen my fancy Wilton cake decorating case. So I learned how to make cakes look as good as they tasted! My mom was a good cook and decent baker, but she was happy to give me the full time job of "pastry chef" in our household.
By high school I was baking cookies weekly for Jed and I was the official pie maker (and still am) for Thanksgiving. College was a great time of experimentation in my own kitchen, as well as several of Jed's apartment kitchens...many of which were ill equipped. Then I "grew up" and made those fantastic ramen noodles during our lean post college years.
I think most people like to cook because they like to eat. Here's where I differ. My first priority in cooking is to show how much I care. Feeding people is basic nurturing 101, you are literally caring for their health and feeding their body...and hopefully their soul. I made birthday cakes for my family celebrations as presents...because the time and love put in really was a gift. I baked for Jed away at college so he'd know I'd spent the time thinking about him. I cooked for my dad when my mom was away visiting her parents so he wouldn't be lonely and to show him how grown up I really was. I bring friends dinners when they need a lift. It's purposeful on many levels, and as a "Martha" I'm always full of purpose.
I think the intent of cooking as caring was always there but it wasn't until I was on the receiving end that it hit home. When I was 26 both of my parents got sick. My mom had uterine cancer and my dad had a cancerous polyp in his colon. The weeks after my mother's hysterectomy our friends and neighbors were incredible. We had full hot dinners delivered every day for weeks. Each dinner brought them a visit as well as a meal full of well wishes and prayers and hope. It was just six weeks after my mother's surgery when my father had a brain aneurysm burst. We spent a week around the clock in the hospital touch and go, but in the end it was go, my dad did not survive. Following that there were months of dinners, lunches, and even breakfasts that were given just to share the time or show their support.
I still make dinners for friends who've just had babies, or lost loved ones. But they know what I know now. I'm not just making it to feed their bellies, it's so they know I'm their by their side weather it's cheering their successes or grieving their losses. Food is for the body....cooking is for your soul.