Cori Devlin & Lori Rockl: Creativity in the Kitchen
Imagination/Creativity, inspiration/individuality, awareness/sensuality let's find it in the kitchen. Recognizing, celebrating and giving expression to our creativity is the art of life. Cultivating an awareness of how our senses directly inform our imagination allows for creative individuality that accentuates personal empowerment and healthy dynamic relationships. It is our hope that by highlighting and targeting the sensuality of food, moments can be created and remembered. The kitchen is a perfect place to solicit the senses and experience the romance of life. All the five senses are pierced; touch with the textures of food, kitchen wares, one another; tastes of food, wine and each others tasting fingers; smells of food cooking, sweet perfume; sounds from music, the pop of a wine cork, kind words from one another; sights of flowers, candles, colors of food. (This is the fun and fairly expansive part). Ultimately, we are cooking with intention, a lot more intention than just food. Join Jill as she discovers her kitchen and asks us all to consider "What are you really hungry for?"
Jill, a building inspector, wife of 18 years and mother to two young teenagers arrived home Wednesday at 5pm. It was an ordinary day, if by ordinary you mean up at the crack of dawn to do laundry, out the door fueled up on nothing but coffee and exhausted after a demanding day at work. As Jill entered the kitchen on this night a few things occurred almost simultaneously, almost imperceptively, so subtlely that to the observer it would seem nothing took place. At first Jill heard a gentle voice from deep inside herself ask "What are you really hungry for?" The second thing that happened was instead of ignoring this voice and pretending that it hadn't been heard, Jill stopped. Exhausted and spent, she actually stopped for the first time all day. She put her hands on the counter, closed her eyes and let her head drop back as she took a deep breath in.
When she opened her eyes, she became aware of the quiet, the shades of color that the early evening sun was bringing through the windows. She noticed the faint smell of the plug in air freshener, the relief of her feet being out of her work shoes and then looking around her kitchen, she again said, out loud, "What am I really hungry for?" Jill allowed this question to capture her imagination. She felt herself smile and let a quiet giggle escape her. It felt strange but exhilarating to consider the options.
As her imagination started to run, she felt the freedom that comes when the mind opens to previously unexplored possibilities. That was it there was no going back to the day she was experiencing just 15 minutes ago.
As she gazed around the kitchen her eyes rested upon the butternut squash she just picked up from the farmers' market. She allowed herself a moment to simply hold them in her hands. She felt their weight and perfect firmness. This was it, she found her meal. She decided to do something with these golden squash. The coolness of September was starting to settle in, which made her decide on ... a hearty stew.
Staying with her imagination, Jill intuitively moved through
the kitchen and followed her senses as they encouraged her to explore
the aromas of chopped garlic sautéed with onion, the bright colors
of corn and tomatoes freshly harvested. But this wasn't going to
"What am I really hungry for?" she thought to herself again. She smiled and said out loud, "let's spice this baby up."
Feeling creative, the first time in a long time, she knew that this moment was too good to not embellish upon. So she changed into her favorite jeans and her well-loved
t-shirt, freshened her lipstick, sprayed herself with a little perfume and walked toward the CD player. She paused and asked "What am I hungry for?" some Cuban music! So as the sultry sounds of drums and guitars and enlivened voices came through, Jill poured herself some red wine and pulled out her favorite saucepan.
Then using a pestle and mortar, she crushed the garlic. What a beautiful texture, almost creamy she thought. Then she looked in the cupboard for onions. Yes, there was the large bulk bag of onions available, but there was also some shallots that came from the local farm market. With a smile, she pulled out all the shallots and said to herself, "this stew is going to be good." She sautéed the garlic and onions and the kitchen came alive with aroma. Again, she smiled, took a sip of wine and shimmied her hips as she turned in a circle to the beat of the music.
The next step, hmmmmm she looked in her cupboards and saw the canned tomatoes. Yes, the soft flavor of tomatoes would be right, but not canned tomatoes. She went to the fridge and pulled out the farmers' market fresh tomatoes and started to slice. As she sliced, she became aware of the ease of the knife through the tomato. Her husband was so proud to buy her Henckels knives from the specialized knife shop for her birthday. In that moment of reflection, she felt a slight pang of guilt over her lack of appreciation for the gift. Suddenly feeling grateful that slicing her tomatoes was satisfying and not frustrating, she made a note to herself to re-thank her husband when he got home.
Each of these moments seemed to urge her on to the next. As her saucepan began to fill with a distinct collection of fragrances arising from the bubbling tomato sauce, Jill felt that there was something missing. As she paused over a tasting, she felt the need for an explosive salivating experience; she reached for the cayenne pepper and began to generously shake. Its fiery heat provided the perfect zest. As Jill lifted her wooden spoon to her mouth and tasted the medley of flavors, she felt the heat rising in her cheeks. The spicy pepper had finished off the dish just as she had hoped.
At that moment Jill's husband walked into the kitchen to find her wearing a satisfied smile across her pink cheeks. And with a shimmy of her hips and the drop of her chin, she raised her wine glass, looked up from under her eyelashes and said "What are you hungry for?"
Aren't we all yearning to experience our lives with fullness and passion? What if it is available to us, not through some magical transcendent yoga-induced moment (although we're not knocking those fill your boots), but through simple, practical and creative methods. This is an invitation to shift your perception of meal making from yet another task to an act of creativity. What if the kitchen is your studio, the frying pan your palette and the old wooden spoon your paint brush? Would your attitude about the creation of a meal change if rather then solemnly following a recipe you put on your artists eyes and allowed yourself to be moved and inspired by the ingredients before you? What could you create? A satisfying meal, something new, a great memory, a fantastic way to end your day?
Life's good, we've all heard that phrase hell, there's even a major appliance line with that name. As much as there is truth in that statement, it can be hard to believe when the days meld into one big chore. What possibilities might emerge from the day to day rhythm of your life if, like Jill, you were to simply stop. That's right. Stop. And what if in that moment, that pause, there was room for something new to occur. Being creative isn't a luxury, but a deep well of life energy available for each of us to tap into for vitality and inspiration. You don't need to quit your job and move to an artist's commune in order to reconnect with your own creative juices. Your kitchen is rich with opportunities to engage your imagination with passion and possibility. What are you really hungry for?
Spicy Butternut Squash StewA dish guaranteed to heat you up on cool fall evenings!
Gather together the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, garlic and spices in your favorite saucepan. Allow this aromatic mixture to come to a boil and add in the butternut squash. When the squash is tender, about 30 minutes, stir in peppers, beans, and corn. Cook until the peppers are soft and then add in the cilantro and serve with sour cream. Feel free to improvise and spice this dish as you like, have fun and be creative!
n cori devlin is a registered Art Therapist who combines her
love of cooking with her belief in the healing power of creativity. She
is collaborating with Lori Rockl on a book about intimate
relationships in the kitchen.