Cooking - An Alternative Therapy

Writing has always been very therapeutic for me, however there are times when my mind and emotions are so jumbled that I cannot wrangle them enough to live on a page coherently. Cooking and/or baking becomes that activity which can cause the chaos in my mind and heart to ease—at least for a while. There is something about taking simple ingredients, that by themselves may not remarkable, and turning them into something spectacular and comforting. Take a couple pounds of beef, bacon, carrots, onions, good red wine, beef broth, and assorted spices, and with great care and detail, along with a little time, and you have Boeuf Bourgeon. Exquisite! Into a bowl toss flour, leavening ingredients, spices, butter and fruit and you have a calming coffee cake or comforting batch of scones. Splendid! Perhaps that is the rub—the time and attention along with specific measurements. Shifting your mind off the current problems and hurts into something new. Writing focuses your energies on the issues that are at the forefront of your mind. Cooking and baking take your mind off the issues, setting them to the back burner, and places before you the task of creation—something new of simple basics. Add in the components of friends and you have the perfect recipe for healing. For me there is nothing better than cooking for others when life around me has become a train wreck—whether I’m the conductor or not. I love to give the gift of food—a gift from myself that my friend(s) may not take the time to make for himself or herself. My go-to is simple handmade pasta with fresh pesto made in front of the watcher while we share a glass (or two) of good wine. Perhaps it is in our pain that the giving of a gift—of ourselves—that becomes the marker of healing whatever current hurt we are experiencing. While we may be disappointed, hurt or let down by our children, friends, family, spouses, or lovers, there is something inherently beautiful about the specifics of a recipe. Grabbing a tried and true recipe will always yield the same results—that in itself is comforting. Add into the mix the giving of ourselves to others and whatever depressing issue is at hand, for a little while at least, it is set aside in the beauty of the moment.

Avie Layne 2012