Few things make me happier than being in the kitchen outside of making music. Maybe it’s the nostalgia I get from my mom’s home cooking or her amazing baked goods. Maybe it’s because those are times when I remember being happiest, lightest in my soul, like the feeling I get when I’m singing a favorite song. The kitchen is the center of my home, the hub of life. My kids have sword fights and in between battles ask for a taste of what I’m making. The sautéing of onions and garlic are always invigorating to my nostrils signaling my brain that something delicious is on the way. In the kitchen, there is danger, the potential for failure epic or something missed (like the time my best friend and I were making muffins and wanted to make them sugar free and were successful because we completely forgot to add any sugar…lol). But there is also the opportunity for greatness, creative and elegant meals and creating lasting memories.
I’ve often seen the kitchen as a proving ground. A safe place to try something out while making something new. I’ve worked on my best vocal runs, vocal impressions and dance moves all while making something yummy in the kitchen. My mother, an avid cook and professional baker, always instilled in me the value of producing something of good quality. She is a firm believer in the concept that “you eat with your eyes first”. I can remember when she and my brother brought the pastries they made for my daughter’s birthday. They were absolutely a work of art. Rich in creativity, color and flavor, I was overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of colorful cake pops, swirl sugar cookies and deliciously buttercream frosted cupcakes. I felt in that moment that my daughter’s first birthday would be a memory we treasured in our hearts for years to come.
When I find that I’ve had a rough day or I’m feeling low, it always makes me feel better to get in the kitchen and make something. Sometimes it’s a delicious soup prepared using fresh vegetables and a rich bone broth I’ve prepared from a roasted chicken weeks prior, or maybe it’s trying to make an authentic dish with ingredients I had never used before or lately, making bread. The slow and patient process of preparing one’s own sourdough starter and then patiently lysing the dough, folding the dough and all the wait in between until you can achieve a delicious, flavorful loaf of bread with just flour, water and salt. Some people take to art or gardening and I love a good garden, especially one replete with fresh vegetables, allium and herbs to help me make my creations but it is the kitchen where all those raw ingredients take shape and form and become something utterly delicious and memorable.
I can still remember how inspired I was after watching the movie Julie and Julia. Watching Julie determined to make some the toughest dishes like a poached egg and ruining expensive cuts of meat was an inspiration. To this day, movies that have a cooking theme are among my favorites. It was in the early days of marriage (no kids) and I was excited to make incredible dishes for my husband as I am to this day. I set out to make beef bourguignon by New Years Eve to commemorate the last day of the year. I purchased the wine, the quality cuts of meat and got to work. The end result was a delicious dish that my husband said, “This is so good, I couldn’t even pay for this”. His compliment had me soaring. The sheer joy and smile on his face as he tasted the labor of my hands filled me. Now I get to share in my children’s joy when my son says, “Mom, this is so amaaazinng! Can you make this again tomorrow”? It brings me back to after school days in my childhood when I unlocked our apartment door to be greeted by the smell of curry chicken simmering on the stove or a fresh warm batch of chocolate chip cookies. Food and memories go together, helping to maintain and commemorate our existence. Recipes handed down from generation to generation is the stuff of a life well lived. A way to remember one’s presence here on earth.
For great ideas or to place an order for your next event, check out Anagee’s at anageesbakes.com and on Instagram at @anageesbakes