Courtesy of Stockvault.com

Courtesy of Stockvault.com

As I settle into my new, rent-paid, call-it-mine, honest to goodness long-term home, I’m reveling in something that most non-nomadic Americans take for granted. In fact, most folks with homes have the opportunity to do this many times every day, and they actively avoid it. We spend thousands of dollars every year trying to avoid it. Advertisements abound, on TV, radio, billboards, and in magazines, promising to eliminate it from our lives. Still, I have to say it now: I love cooking! Cooking is how my favorite past boyfriends won my heart. Cooking is why I love Thanksgiving Day: Growing up, it was the one day of the year when my typical 80s suburban, both-parents-working family cooked a meal from scratch, beginning to end.

And now, after three years of fast food, frozen dinners, and canned soup, I’m cooking again! After two weeks of getting used to my new home (This is my home! Mine! I really live here!), last Friday I finally felt comfortable enough to make an epic trip to the grocery store. Now I have only to saunter down to the kitchen to find butter spread, milk, yoghurt (plain and flavored), cottage cheese, pita chips, bread, peanut butter, three kinds of cheese, and oh, the vegetables! I have fresh potatoes, asparagus (on sale this week!), avocado (ditto), a bag of salad, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and my favorite staple, cabbage. Then there are the veggies in the freezer, next to all of those beautiful chicken breasts. I have a full box of Cheerios and one of Wheat Chex, and enough baking ingredients to whip up a batch of Toll House cookies on a moment’s notice.

This is a luxury I couldn’t have in my pure-nomad, house sitting days. When I knew I’d be changing houses in two weeks or two days, it didn’t make sense to buy a full package of any ingredient. I couldn’t stock up when something was on sale. I simple carried a small box of canned vegetables and soups from house to house, and if I was really settling in, I bought just enough Lean Cuisines to serve as dinner for each night before the next move. The only fresh milk, eggs, or vegetables I had were those that my clients begged me to eat before they spoiled. And while I was saving money on rent, I was spending quite a bit on Noodles & Company and Chipotle.

So now I’m cooking. I love the tightwaddery of making things from scratch. I love the creative process of putting food together. What I love most, though, is the freedom it gives me to make my meals exactly the way I want them. Today I brunched on a fried egg, overcooked so that the whites are all crispy, and sunny side up, which no diner will do these days, for fear I’ll get salmonella poisoning and sue them. With it, I had nearly, but not quite burned whole wheat toast, and 1/3 pound of asparagus, steam/sauteed in the special way my friend Rachel taught me years ago, flavored with a little olive oil and a little lemon juice. All of this was topped off with my beloved, not-available-in-any-restaurant-I’ve-ever-seen, caffiene-free Pepsi. And I ate it all while still wearing my pajamas.

I expect this glorious pleasure at eating exactly what I want, this satisfaction at opening the fridge and cabinets and seeing a wide array of fresh, nutritious foods, this glee at saving vegetable steaming water for making soup later on, will wear off to a degree. On days when I’m rushing to get somewhere, I will just grab a shaker bottle full of water and artificial protein drink powder. Still, I don’t thing I’ll ever fully get over this joy of simply, directly feeding myself.

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