That's where I was for most of today. This must be a new world record for me, because except for church, chapel, and exercise, I was hanging out all day in the kitchen, either eating or baking and cooking. And it wasn't even my turn to cook for the house -- that's next Sunday. With the day and evening free, I decided to stick around St. Michael Friary, and I made the kitchen my home within the home.
What did I do all day? Well, I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch. One of the friars asked twice over the last few weeks if I might rustle up a batch, so I made a batch and a half. And they are great. Then, using up most of the week's leftovers, I stirred up some servings of Spanish rice. As I type this, there is a loaf of whole wheat bread rising in the oven.
The only things keeping me from making more food are the lateness of the hour and a lack of ingredients.
Maybe it is the influence of volunteering at a place where they cook for hundreds of people every day and make it look easy. Maybe it is the desire to show my brothers I care for them by means other than words. Maybe it is because I am at last appreciating the sacramentality of food. Maybe I feel that, after the thousands of times I have been fed over thirty-four-and-a-half years, it is long past time that I fed others a few times. It could be all of these things. I hope it is.
More than once now I have told my formators how glad I am to have become comfortable with cooking. The kitchen space itself has much to do with this development. It is easy to navigate; it has a powerful double oven and range; it has ample storage space for the pantry and spices; it is well stocked with utensils, arranged in an orderly manner; and its food preparation area is out of the way of the dining area, where traffic is the highest. Even the shyest chef apprentice can come out of his eggshell in here.
Next Sunday is going to be a tour de force. I would like to prepare both dinner and a dessert. Who knows, maybe an appetizer as well. Whatever I prepare for the brothers, there will be bread. We are a fraternity with a Eucharistic spirit. That spirit is stirring me.
Have a good night, friends. Got to go check on the bread.