My mother was a fabulous home cook – the kind of cook who experimented in the kitchen, shopped organic way before it was fashionable and was an early subscriber to Bon Appetit magazine.
Every evening the dining room table was set with sterling silver, antique glasses, lighted candles, and classical music filled the house. For most homes this would have indicated a special occasion but in my house, it was an everyday affair.
Given my childhood experience, I always assumed that if I was fortunate to be at home with my children during the day that I would recreate that memory. So, it was a complete surprise and a huge disappointment when I found my own dinner hour so hectic and chaotic.
Kate, with a plan
During the years when my children were growing up, my life seemed to implode. As with many modern families, everyone was moving in a million different directions and I was trying to hold it all together. In a moment of desperation, I went to see my oldest and dearest friend, Kate.
Kate has been by my side since we met in fourth grade and as a first grade teacher, I consider her an expert in all things relating to children, so I was willing to do whatever she suggested. As I poured out my story over a glass of wine she said, “I want you to do three things.”
I took out a piece of paper.
“Think of yourself as June Cleaver.” (Leave it to Beaver aka “the perfect Mom,”) she said. I laughed. “No, seriously, June knew where she stood in the world. You’re a great Mom and you have to start believing in yourself again.”
“Next, don’t answer the phone after 3 pm."
"And finally,” she said, “buy yourself a Crock Pot.”
The start of my slow cooking journey
With my instructions in hand I went to bed peacefully – I had a plan. The next morning, I went through my cabinets and found a Crock Pot® that I received at my wedding shower 19 years ago. Still in its box. I looked inside and realized it was too small to prepare enough food for a family of five. Undaunted and on a mission, a quick trip to the store for a larger slow cooker and a book titled 5 Ingredients or Less set me on my path.
As my slow cooking journey began, I soon discovered the Zen-like effect slow cooking had on my family. The delicious aroma that filled the air, the freedom it allowed all of us in the afternoons. We started taking long walks with our dog before starting homework and felt more relaxed during the afternoon shuffle. I also used my slow cooking prep time as a space for reflection and meditation, chopping my vegetables in silence.
The foundation for Zen of Slow Cooking
The bubble burst 2 years after I bought my first slow cooker when my then 9-year-old daughter, Lucy, got tears in her eyes when I pulled out my slow cooker and said “Mommy, I don’t want to eat any more thick meat.” My heart sank, but I knew she was right because I only knew how to make a few things in my slow cooker.
I wasn’t ready to give up my newfound treasure, pulled out some of my favorite cookbooks and started to transform our meals into contemporary cuisine. The idea for Zen of Slow Cooking came from those early days, but it didn’t become a reality until I met Jane.