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Kitchen satisfactions

“He who is not satisfied with a little is satisfied with nothing.” ― Epicurus

Satisfaction: "the good feeling that you have when you have achieved something or when something that you wanted to happen does happen; something that gives you this feeling" Oxford Learner's Dictionaries

We have a welcome back dinner with the family on Sunday. Welcome back to the travelling family. So, of course, I have been planning what to cook. Satisfaction number one. The planning stage. I am going to do the melon salad dish I talked about yesterday as an entrée, although I have just had a minor setback on that with David saying he didn't like how it looked. Which is the direct opposite of what I thought. Never mind. I think it will be something I will be able to get the children to participate in as well - I'm thinking of adding some feta to the mix as well as the cucumber and tomato. Then I am going to do the chicken marsala dish that I tried a while back, again. Because it was simple and yummy. Though what I am going to do in the way of potato accompaniment I'm not sure.

Dessert will be Blackberry apple and almond slice. Another Nigel Slater recipe - from A Cook's Book. I chose it because the other day I bought a small punnet of blackberries - for our lunch with friends on Tuesday - which I then forgot all about. However I had to get some more blackberries as the punnet was indeed very small, so I bought some frozen ones. However, I knew that I had some blackberries growing in the garden and so I checked them out - and they are ripe. So I picked them with the result at the top of the page. Much, much smaller than the bought ones, but real. And they taste pretty OK. So satisfying to have foraged something from a plant that is basically a noxious weed, but which in the couple of places it grows in our untended garden are fairly contained. So satisfaction number two. If the tart turns out alright tomorrow and everyone likes it the satisfaction will be increased hugely.

Satisfaction number three. Also a kind of foraging satisfaction. Monika brought me some of her nectarines - also small but very sweet and a touch soft, so I decided to make them into jam. There weren't a lot though, so I added some plums I had bought a week or so ago which were also past their best, and threw in a few grapes - also not wonderful. But put them together with sugar and lemons - gleaned from my generous neighbour's tree - also the last of the crop which he was glad to get rid of - and you have nectar of the gods. Well probably that's a mild exaggeration, but something wonderful anyway. All done in the microwave so not even a great deal of effort.

Monika also gave me a small bag of cumquats - so cumquat marmalade joins the mixed fruit jam.

Satisfaction number four - adding them to my shelves of jam and marmalade. The only problem being it's a bit crowded but the satisfaction was doubled, by being able to rearrange everything so that they fitted.

Satisfaction number five - making a rather fine risotto from the leftover poached, tarragon stuffed chicken I had made for our lunch with Monika and husband on Tuesday. Another double satisfaction because the original chicken had turned out well too.

These are satisfactions that you can see physical evidence of, but cooking to me provides endless mini satisfactions. And it seems that the scientists are agreeing with me.

"A study in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science looked at the therapeutic qualities of cooking as a hobby, including its reported ability to cause a dimmed sense of time and an altered sense of consciousness. The researchers found that the act of cooking improves a person’s wellbeing and is associated with life satisfaction." Mind Food

I mean what's not to like about cooking. It satisfies so many parts of our brains and our souls. The magic of transformation; the centuries of learning that have gone into every component of your meal - not just the food itself, but the techniques, the implements; the creative way you - or your recipe maker have combined a whole set of ingredients; not to mention the satisfaction gained by giving pleasure to others; to keeping your family healthy; and by bringing people together.

"The joy and satisfaction of a meal is equal to the passion and effort given to its preparation. - Gordon Ramsay

So get into the kitchen tonight and make something nice. It doesn't have to be fancy. It can be something you make all the time, but you will get satisfaction from the assembling and preparing of the ingredients, and enormous satisfaction from serving it up to your loved ones. Though I confess there will also be a touch of anxiety about whether it will turn out alright - if it's new - as this is and also whether the people you have made it for will like it. So hang on to the satisfaction of actually making it.

Cooking ... is about making yourself something to eat and sharing food with others but is also - whisper it - about the quiet moments of joy to be had along the way." Nigel Slater

I could not find any smoked mackerel for this dish. I do not know why. It used to be common, but no more. So I am substituting smoked trout and maybe some smoked ocean trout, which is almost salmon. I'm a bit nervous about this but if it works the satisfaction will be enormous.

My life is a small one. It is not played out on a grand stage but in a shrinking world of family and friends. Nevertheless every day has numerous small satisfactions and a lot of them really are to do with cooking. And there's nothing wrong with that.

"Let's just make something for dinner and enjoy ourselves." Nigel Slater


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