Almost 20 years ago, a friend suggested to me that I make a list of 100 things I wanted to do in my lifetime. Easily done, I thought at the time, but when I sat down to make the list it was more challenging than I expected. Today, I still only have 68 things on the list (many of them crossed out). I've experienced more than what is crossed out in the last 20 years, so the list has been more of a guidepost for living my life. I have it categorized - Educational, Physical, Experience/Travel, and Charitable. Periodically, I review the list, cross things off and add others.
A few months ago, I gave birth to a little boy named Cameron. Having a baby wasn't on the list, but when I turned 40, I decided to pull the trigger before the opportunity passed. After 20 years of being single, travelling, sailing on weekends, and spending evenings with friends, I thought the transition would be more difficult. Being single is great, don't get me wrong, but I did feel some self-imposed pressure to get out and do things. Now that Cam is here, spending Saturdays cleaning the house and messing around on the computer seems perfectly fine.
As much as I feel some relief not having to be out looking for things to do to keep me busy, I also realize I need mental stimulation. I've always been an active person - taking classes, exercising, and hosting social events - that part of me hasn't changed just because I had a baby. So recently, I decided to pull out the list again and assess what I might like to do over the next ten to twenty years. There is work to be done here. I want to think about experiences I can share with Cameron that will enrich both our lives and help us create memories.
A few months ago, I had a passing thought that I might like to cook through a cookbook. Yes, like Julie and Julia (although I’m not going to cook 500 recipes in year!). I read the book and watched the movie. Last week, I made a recipe from a book I've had for about ten years, Passionate Vegetarian, and I thought, “This is the book!” I’ve been a lacto-ovo pesco-vegetarian (I eat eggs, dairy and fish) for about the same amount of time. The book has over 1000 recipes, not including variations. It covers a wide range of vegetarian dishes, obviously, and incorporates many things I’ve never used in cooking like umeboshi, mung beans, and mirlitons (chayote - a Caribbean summer squash - can I even get that here?) If I make two of them a week (probably a bit ambitious), it will take me about ten years!
I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about why I want to do this and what my expectations are for it. Surprisingly, it's not just as simple as cooking a bunch of food. I've considered that Cameron is four months old. While I'm doing this he'll be growing up. Maybe he will help me in the kitchen at some point. I hope he will learn something from the experience - maybe about cooking and eating well, and maybe also something about life - setting and achieving goals, commitment, attention to detail. Maybe he won't learn anything. Likely he will learn something I'm not expecting and it may not occur to him until he's older - and it may never occur to him.
For me, it will be a journey. It will provide an opportunity to reflect on some of my travel experiences as the book includes a number of international recipes. I might even come up with some of my own variations on the recipes based on my experiences. I wonder what will happen in my life during this process. Holidays, vacations - for sure - but what else? I’m excited for the challenge of choosing recipes each week, perhaps find a nice wine pairing, and using the experience to track the day to day experience of raising a child.
My first recipe choices are Zwiebel Kuchen (German Onion Tart) and Moroccan Carrot Salad. I'll let you know how it turns out!
~Christine Zellers, LBDC CEO