There are few things more peaceful, relaxing and joyous than preparing a meal for either yourself or the ones you love. In this modern era, we have quickly forgotten the all important fact that meal time is a social event – an engagement to be enjoyed with friends and family, to relish in tastes and to digest with peace and love in our hearts. Food is to be shared with others and enjoyed for what it is, not wolfed down over the latest emails, television show or text message.
Living in a fast city like New York, this point is even more quickly lost on the city’s residents. Fast food, pre-prepared salad bars (even the healthy ones) and restaurant options present a far more alluring prospect to most people than cooking meals at home. Preparing and cooking food however isn’t a chore. It is an art. Take a look at the dramatic increase in popularity of cooking and lifestyle shows and you will see that sourcing and cooking one’s food is an act of love, appreciation and respect, not one of obligation.
I have been blessed to spend most of my summer this year in the Hamptons, where farmers’ markets and roadside stalls are bursting at the seams with fresh, local, organic and seasonal produce. Having this to hand so readily provides an added richness to meal preparation. Just last night I cut into an heirloom tomato that was so fresh and fragrant that I had to almost slice it over the bowl to ensure its precious juices weren’t wasted on the chopping board. Same with a punnet of local, organic strawberries I recently bought – the smell was so sweet and pungent that it was as if I had opened a bag of candy and left it out, the smell of the natural sugars filling my small kitchen space.
Cooking for one (or two) doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming either. Last night, I served the aforementioned heirloom tomato simply – chopped in a bowl with fresh torn basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a spattering of sea salt and black pepper to taste. The aromas and flavours were to die for, the tomato so sweet, it could have been a dessert.
Other simple meals that are my go-tos are fresh, seasonal vegetables roasted in the oven with olive oil and fresh herbs. With a simple tahini, mustard vinaigrette or balsamic dressing, these ingredients can quickly be transformed into any meal. Add some quinoa for added complex carbohydrates and protein and you’ve got yourself an incredibly cheap, healthy and fresh dinner.
The key to home cooking is as simple as knowing which tastes work together and which don’t. Armed with this knowledge, it is so simple to throw together whatever ingredients and vegetables you may have on hand to create a filling and healthy meal at the drop of a hat. When shopping for ingredients, research what is in season to guarantee freshness and price, and you will also be doing your local farmers a favour. So – what’s in your fridge? Cook up something fabulous tonight.