Everyone needs an escape from the routine of daily life, a place we can go to, a hobby we can turn to, a change from the mundane. It's not always easy to find, but when you do, it can help alleviate the stress we all carry on a daily basis. Cooking, I've found, is the therapeutic escape that sets my mind at ease. A wonderful hobby that inspires creativity and provides immediate satisfaction, it helps me put to rest all the thoughts that I have gathered throughout the day. It can do the same for you.
It is easy to get inspired with cooking, though I admit that I sometimes find myself straining to think of ideas. Instead of venturing off to try something new, I make one of my stand-by recipes―one that I know the whole family will enjoy. But there are times when I just need a little inspiration to get my creativity flowing. I find my inspiration by looking through magazines or watching Food Network. I may not always find exactly what I'm looking for, like something to do with the hamburg I have in my freezer, but looking through different recipes gives me ideas for food combinations that I may not have otherwise considered.
I also find inspiration by taking a walk through my garden of fresh vegetables and herbs. The scent of rosemary, the texture of peppermint, or the firm touch of a ripe tomato makes my senses burst with flavor. Besides, there is nothing like taking a walk through your garden on a hot summer day and picking the perfect combination of herbs for your evening meal. Knowing where they come from, how they have been cared for, and that they are the fruit of your hard work, makes the end result that much more satisfying.
If I'm really at a loss for dinner ideas, I can also usually find inspiration by going to the grocery store, strolling through the aisles and choosing items that I haven't tried to cook before, like barley, pineapple, or artichokes. We get so accustomed to making the same old dishes that we sometimes forget that there are so many other foods to explore, and with them we can create something spectacular. While I'm at the grocery store I usually pick up a cooking magazine at the same time, flip through the pages, and select a recipe that I can try that night. And since I'm already at the grocery store, buying the ingredients right then and there is a cinch.
When I've finally decided on a few recipes that I want to try, whether they're the ones I borrowed from a magazine, or came up with on my own, I set the stage for a cook-fest in my kitchen. Everything gets moved off the counter, I clear the kitchen table, and make sure all the dishes are put away before I begin. It's like having a clean slate, a blank canvas to work with before setting off to create my masterpiece.
It's not unusual for me to have two or three different meals cooking at once, including a couple dinners to have throughout the week, and bread or dessert to treat myself with when I'm finished. Believe it or not, cooking gives me a sense of empowerment. I become the master of my own kitchen for hours on end, creating fine meals that I can share with my family. Some turn out great, others are a work in progress, but they all have something in common―they are a way for me to focus on something creative, something fun, a way to distract me from the stress of my day.
Cooking gives me satisfaction because I feel like I have accomplished something great and worthwhile. It is my therapy, my escape, my piece of mind. I would encourage anyone looking to leave the stress of your day behind to dig out your pots and pans, and create something you've never tried before. Let your senses guide you in the right direction. Let them help you combine the right ingredients for making that perfect dinner both, you and your family will enjoy. Let cooking lead you past the demands of everyday life, and into a world of adventure.