There are so many memoirs by women having some kind of midlife crisis but between family and work commitments I just don’t have the time, the energy or the money to head off on an adventure to India, Nepal or even Maine. I am not going “to find myself” or find some dishy young lover to fill me with new passions. I have, however just entered my 49th year and the need to do something for myself was pretty overwhelming and to be honest it surprised me.
My husband, Robert and my best friend Vanessa inadvertently gave me this idea with their birthday gifts. They both know how much I love to cook, and to try new things, so from Vanessa came Rachel Koo’s “The Little Paris Kitchen” and from Robert, Eileen Yin-Fei Loo’s “Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking.” My in-laws, John and Leanne became part of the idea when the sent me a Barnes and Noble gift card with which I bought myself Katie Button’s “Curate.” With my last class of wine on my 49th birthday I decided to cook as many recipes as I can from these 3 books (and likely a few others from my collection) over the next year, and write about them here.
I used to cook all the time. When I met Rob 20 years ago I used to prepare elaborate meals for him, all made with super fresh ingredients. I would walk to Pike Place Market on my way home from night shift and pick up veggies, meat and fish. We walked more, ate out less, and were really just healthier. Even for the first couple of years after Poppy was born, I would meal plan and stick to the plan, so in ding this I am hoping to get back to that. I guess I am using the blog to keep me on track, and to hold myself accountable.
“Blah, blah, blah” you may say. Yes, I know this has also been done before, but really I am doing this for me, and in a way for my 7 year old daughter, who I am going to involve in as many of these meals as I can. She may never eat any of them, she is as picky as I was at that age, but if nothing else she will learn to cook, and we will get to spend quality time together.
When we bought our house 2 years ago we had all these great plans to have Sunday lunches with friends every week, and family meals every night in the dining room. Instead we have fallen into a slump where we just don’t eat dinner as a family. Poppy always gets her dinner (usually chicken, inari of PB&J – like I said she is picky) but Rob and I have started just to pick, and it has really become very unhealthy. If we weren’t just picking, we were eating out, which meant we had so much food waste in our home. The worst thing about the picking, and not sitting down together is that we have become in a way strangers, the three of us moving around in our own orbits, not talking to each other.
Hindsight is of course 20-20, but I can see now that much of this was related to my own mood. I was in a job where I loved my patient population, but didn’t fit into the workplace culture. I was incredibly depressed and anxious, and self medicating with wine. I changed jobs a few months ago, where I am closer to home, and far less drained at the end of the day. I am working in a team that is supportive, welcoming and really just generally filled with nice people. I am now taking an anti-depressant which once it kicked in made me realize just how miserable I had been. The wine has been a bigger challenge – look, I like a drink, I have never denied this and never would, however I have denied (and ignored) that I was drinking more than was good for me, which of course has had a totally negative impact on my life.
So here we go. Please follow along on this adventure with me……..Who knows maybe I will ring in 50, 50lbs lighter and being able to run a 5k (if I mange that I am rewarding myself with botox)