Drunk on Love in the Kitchen

Seven years ago on this day my dear, sweet father passed away. This post isn't about sadness or mourning, though. It's a celebration of life and love and food.

I didn't always love to cook. When my boys were little, I struggled to mash together cheap meals that consisted of mac and cheese or hot dogs. I hadn't yet discovered the joy of chopping, peeling, deglazing, or braising. Food was simple. Meals were short. The taste was bland.

There wasn't one defining moment that drew me to the love of cooking. It was more of a combination of a few things that all came together during a trying time in my life.

When Rock and I decided to get married, we searched for the perfect home in which to begin our life together. I had a few important things on my wish list, but I was insistent on having an open kitchen/family room concept. I didn't want to be held prisoner in a tiny kitchen away from all of the action. After looking at over thirty houses, I finally found what I wanted. After nine years, a new floor, and a coat of paint on the cabinets and walls, the space is still where we spend most of our time. It's cozy, warm, and indicative of our love.

After we had been in this house for just over a year, we had a record breaking ice storm on December 1, 2006. We woke up to inches of ice covering trees and roads. Many in town had lost power, including my parents, but we still had ours. We invited them to come stay with us until things returned back to normal.

That afternoon my dad stood next to me in the kitchen as I mixed a batch of peanut butter cookies. He placed his arm around me and said how much he loved our home and how it fit us. After he laid down for nap, he must have suffered a series of mini-strokes, because he was never the same after that. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's robbed my father of his memories and his mobility. 

In order to cope with all of the decisions and heartache, I began to scour cookbooks. I learned through the help of Food Network, Rachael Ray, and many food blogs how to follow a recipe. My husband and I began to put on good music, open wine, and work together to create meals full of wonder and love. I discovered that the process and journey were even more important that the final product. Sometimes things failed, but that was part of the joy of it all.

So today, in honor of my dear father, I am putting together a huge pot of ham and beans. He loved this meal served with warm, sweet cornbread. I can see him now sitting at our table, smiling as he puts spoonfuls of this dish into his mouth. Food has the tremendous power to preserve and protect our precious memories.

This is why I have changed the name of my blog, because every time I enter it, I am drunk on love in the kitchen. 

Happy New Year.