There are lots of reasons to cook. I cook because I’m hungry, because someone else is hungry, because it’s there or because no one else will if I don’t.  There are the logical reasons to cook; it’s how we get nutrition, it’s how I can control what goes into my body (and my people’s bodies….I wish for my people to also eat good food), because on Weight Watchers, it’s easier to make your own food so you don’t get stuck eating diet frozen meals every night. That’s a “HELLO! to sodium right there if I ever saw one.

But I don’t cook because I have in the traditional sense. I love to cook and bake and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it and out of watching people eat and enjoy what I make. But I’ve noticed lately, since around the holidays that I actually kind of, well, need to cook.

The holidays were tough this year, for a multitude of reasons. And they never really got any better by the stunning denouement of Christmas then they had been when December reared it’s ugly head.  In order to deal with it all emotionally, I became a one woman baking machine. Anything that crossed my mind to bake, I baked it. Cookies, peppermint part, cheesecake, raspberry squares. Christmas Day saw a ham dinner (I am the worst Jew ever, I know…but I like pork) that was a little silly, but delicious, for the three people it fed.   It was a lot of food and a lot of baked goods.  And so, I thought.  I thought about what possessed me to cook/bake like it was going out of style.

The beginning of January came and it hit me, like a ton of bricks…it was about control!

The one time during the holidays when I felt in control of the situation, my emotions, anything was when I was cooking or baking something.  For someone like me who has a bit of a thing about control anyway, you’d think I would have thought of this sooner.  Well, sometimes distance makes your head work better.   When I’m cooking, I am totally focused on it. I lose myself in the cooking but I feel in total control at the same time. I feel confident about what I’m doing and that it’s going to turn out, for the most part, fine.  I know that if I follow the steps of the recipe, then things are going to turn out. And even if I’m just experimenting, I’m in control.

I know people who don’t cook who don’t get this.  For them, the kitchen and it’s mysteries don’t make sense. To me, they do. It’s probably the one place in my life where things make the most sense. I know certain ingredients do certain things, have certain tastes and will give me certain results.  It’s comforting to me.   I feel at home among my tools and appliances. And I can tell when something is not in it’s right place.

So, I cook because I love it but I also cook because sometimes, I just need it.  I need to focus that strongly on something so that another part of my brain can either rest or work on other problems.  There are plenty of nights when I don’t cook but then I start to miss it and have to do something. Today, I broke in my new stand mixer and made brownies.  That was a labor of love for me. But, I also noticed that I worked off some frustrations I was feeling in another part of my life.

And seriously people, these brownies are good!