Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, August 25, 2008


An interesting aspect of being away from home is that you get to eat without cooking or cleaning up after cooking as part of the daily routine. You might try new foods, or rely upon comfortable chains when speed and predictability are called for, but you are only responsible for finding and ordering and paying. No prep work enters the picture.While I usually miss the cooking a bit, especially when I am paying high prices for a dish I know I reliably turn out better than what is on my plate, I never (ever) miss the cleaning up afterwards part.Problem is, after I've been gone from my kitchen for long enough, I tend to fall prey to what I call "cookamnesia".

After a day or so of whatever steps it takes travel wise to return home, I re-enter my kitchen, typically half exhausted, where I am confronted with a relatively empty refrigerator and/or pantry. I stand there staring into cabinets and my refrigerator and wonder.What in the world will we do for meals now that we are back at the mercy of my skill set? What will it take to rekindle my willingness to extend myself along culinary lines? It is a bit disconcerting to finally stand back in my own sweet kitchen, take a good look around, and rather than experiencing joy at the reunion, feel more a strong desire to grab my keys and head back out towards the closest source for take out.

And that is centrally it - cookamnesia. A dissociation that occurrs between marshaling the energy towards planning and executing a meal and the eventual reward of the good food personally prepared to share with my family. Usually cookamnesia is short lived and after a couple of easy entry level meals I am once again filled with ideas and energy to tackle the challenges of eating well while maintaining a certain level of health, fiscal and social responsibility.

This go round I have been away for six days, helping my daughter get settled in to new digs in Ann Arbor prior to starting law school next week.I made sandwiches while in Michigan one time, the closest thing to a home cooked meal we had there and the closest I'd gotten to planing and preparing a meal for the entire trip.

The first of the two flights it took to get back home to Texas was diverted to another field for refueling which added in another two hours of "sitting on the runway inside the plane fun" into our travel day. Once we finally got here, my husband and I stopped for a very late fast food dinner on the way home from the airport. The next day in between laundry loads and a run to the grocery store, I made an oriental chicken salad for lunch and then a dolled up frozen pizza for dinner.

So here we are, two meals in, and so far I've done nothing that really counts as cooking. And somehow, rather than gleefully anticipating putting something wonderful together for dinner tonight, I am finding excuses for even thinking about what I'll do.

Folks, I am going to the well, throwing down the bucket, and coming up empty.

As I sit here now trying to work up any enthusiasm for planning tonight's dinner, I have about decided to give it up and take it easy on myself. I may have to accept that offspring resettlement residua, travel fatigue, and the ambient heat of Texas in late August all in combination mean it will take more than 24 hours for a kitchen enthusiasm rebound.

If after a couple of days more I am still not finding the energy or imagination to put together anything that goes past "edible" for a main meal, I suppose I'll look around for some form of kitchen intervention and seek professional help.Perhaps a nice quiet restaurant dinner in combination with a Food Network marathon will rekindle the culinary flame.Has this ever happened to you? When you get back home from a trip do you arrive raring to go, kitchen wise? Are you filled with new recipe ideas and things you know you want to try? Or does it take you a day or more to get back into your own kitchen zen zone? I'd really like to know.


Flapjacks said...

Always. It even happens after just a few days of not cooking anything. "Ah! Where do I start?"

Hey. I recommend that you tell your daughter to go to Zingerman's Deli up in Ann Arbor. It's a great family of businesses, and good food.

TexasDeb said...

Thanks, flapjacks. It is good to know I'm not alone in my tendencies to lose my kitchen chops even after only spending a few days away.

We drove by Zingerman's about 48 times and the parking lot was always packed. We never had time to stop this trip but I am sure my daughter will get there eventually. I appreciate the recommendation.