A Cook’s Evolution

It’s a piece of cake…

I made quiche for dinner tonight. Not unusual on a Wednesday.

Not these days, anyway.

There was a time when quiche was a weekend meal. I made the crust, and my husband made the filling. It was a big deal. It certainly wasn’t a task for one person after a full day at work.

There are a lot of meals like that. Meals that used to be daunting, but now are regulars at any time of week.

Part of that is due to my 5-second commute. If I quit work at 5:00, I’m home at 5:00 (provided I’m not distracted by the weeds between my office and the house). I have more time to cook than when I had an hour-long drive to work.

But most of it is the evolution of my cooking skills. Things like pie crusts, homemade noodles and homemade tortillas used to be difficult and apt to cause me frustration by being too wet or too dry. I’ve made them so many times now, I don’t even pull out a recipe anymore. And I’ve refined the recipes so that they’re always the right consistency.

I have an intuitive feel for what needs to be done to cook a meal, so that I work efficiently, taking the opportunity of a minute here or there while something cooks to prepare another dish.

I know when to think ahead, too—putting beans on to soak at breakfast time so making refried beans at dinner is quick and easy, making a pie crust the evening before so that a quiche is as simple as cooking vegetables and tossing them in the pie, making a double batch of labour-intensive dishes so that there are leftovers for the freezer for instant gourmet meals, preserving garden produce in exactly the right quantities and forms so it’s easy and quick to use in our favourite dishes.

The evolution has been slow, and it’s only now and again that I notice it. When I do, I’m always surprised. “When did this become so easy?” By the time I notice, I’ve almost forgotten how difficult it used to be. There are a lot of past hours of stress and frustration behind every beautiful quiche, or stack of tortillas, or homemade ravioli that I casually whip up today.

It’s a good reminder, for those times I see someone else effortlessly doing something I find difficult or impossible. It may be effortless today, but you can bet a whole lot of effort and evolution has gone into making it that way.

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