The cauliflower was still in the fridge. It's the second or third time I've bought it since moving home. I could steam it. It's good that way. A little garlic and chili tossed in EVO and sea salt. Delightful.
But I wanted it au gratin. I wanted it baked in the oven with that gorgeous, creamy Mornay sauce with a hint of garlic, a pinch of nutmeg and the cheese lightly grilled on top. At the thought of making it myself, my muscles tensed, my breath became shallow and I thought, "I don't know how."
I spent 14 years side-by-side a very talented home cook, but 7 months ago I chose to start cooking alone. When I began to miss the diverse and delicious fare that I had come to love, I thought, "Well, crap. I don't know how to make any of that." I was what you might call the "sous chef" all of that time. I pretty much just minced the garlic and baked the bread.
Yet, over the past several months I've been experimenting, making up my own dishes inspired by past (food) loves or whatever I am in the mood to eat. I've been feeling more like I did in my early twenties when I had my own kitchen to play in and good friends to cook for who were simply thankful for a homemade meal!
Little by little, I'm regaining confidence in the kitchen. I can cut the veggies any way that I want to - imperfectly uneven, if it happens to turn out that way, and no one minds. I can breathe in the kitchen again.
I thought of the quote that I shared in an earlier post, my mantra of late, and decided to attempt the cauliflower in the way that I craved. The sauce is easy enough, no problem. The method and the ingredients suddenly came to mind... I knew just what to do!
I reflected as I stirred in the milk, little by little, how wonderful our subconscious minds are. They store everything. Every. Thing. Things we want to remember and things we don't. Things we think we forget and things we wish we could. Stored. Imprinted. Forever in our subconscious, recalled as needed.
That stored knowledge came easily and I felt happy. I knew how to cook it! I reveled in this new awareness. I could do it myself, for myself. And I would. And I did. And, at some point in the oven, my sauce fell apart. It was fine when I poured it over the cauliflower, but broke while cooking and came out runny, separated.
It was delicious anyway. Not because it came out right or wrong, but because I made it. I made it and no one complained. I tried to make something I loved and though the sauce fell apart, it still tasted good.
It was delicious. Not because it came out right or wrong, but because the only thing they said was, "Thank you." Dinner wasn't ruined. The evening wasn't ruined. And I healed a little.
And I discovered something; something I learned a long time ago and could only finally, now, fully understand - you truly do become who you spend the most time with. When you are surrounded by people who tell you that you can't, you begin to believe it, even if you don't think you do.
When the critical voice is silenced by time or separation, and you invite more supportive people into your life, your inner voice becomes more supportive, too. And you discover you can. You can cook. You can... anything... and that is the most delicious thing of all.