What Cooking Does for Me

Love Life and Lollipops- Cooking in the Kessner Kitchen

After three long days of packing and moving and an apartment full of boxes to unpack, it feels great to know that I can leave that all behind for the evening to come to my parents' house for a respite from the craziness.  It's so comforting to know that I can show up any time to slow down for a warm meal and to regroup when life feels like it's getting just too hectic to cope with. I firmly believe that cooking was ingrained in me.  It holds such profound meaning in my life; It’s a cure-all so to speak.   My parents always do and always did cook.  They cooked together, gourmet meals, that nourished cultured our family from the time I was born.  They take such amazing pride in their food you’d think it was Daniel Boulud Quality (and to be honest, it’s not too far off).  They’ve traveled to Tuscany to learn to cook authentic Italian, tasted China’s delicacies and savored all those foreign flavors, and take a cooking course every year with New York City’s top chefs learning their favorite recipes and hearing them lecture about their philosophies.  They’ve taught me how important food and family meals are.  And because of them, cooking has become such a center of my world.

From way before my veganism, cooking was an integral part of incorporating family and comfort into my life.  My college roommate Sam and I used to have weekly “family dinner”.  We’d shop, cook, and eat (at the dining room table no less) together.  It was like religion in our apartment!  It was fun and nostalgic and yummy.  When Sam graduated, my friend Tina moved in and taught me all about organics, holistics, and yoga.  Family dinner continued, but got that much more wholesome and healthy.

Tina peaked my interest in health through food.  While I always knew to eat my greens and balance my meal, the world of organics vs. pesticides and tea vs. soda and herbs vs. medicine was totally new to me.

So, long story short, it was a slow progression, but a progression nonetheless to eating and cooking vegan.  Before I was married, I used to cook these huge feasts for all of our single friends to come chow down upon.  Everyone was always psyched for a “home cooked meal” and I was so happy to have everyone around the table.  As everyone went their separate ways and their lives (and ours) became busier and busier, dinners became more intimate family events.

And through all the stress of life, businesses going poorly (or too well at times), wedding planning, running between families, too much work load, etc, cooking was always what brought me back down to earth.  For me, cooking is cathartic, creative, nourishing, healing, and relaxing all at the same time.  It stimulates all senses and brings a sense of calm into the house.  The smells, sounds, warmth of cooking are what draw me to it every day.  It’s the process as much as the end product that appeals to me.   A warm bowl of beans, sweet potatoes, and coconut rice on a really cold winter day makes our tiny apartment infinitesimally more comfortable.  A cold borscht with cucumbers and steaming potatoes on a hot summer day cool the mind, body, and soul and makes the steam rising from those oppressive New York City blocks so much more bearable.

These days it’s hard to balance Avi time with cooking time, but I make it happen because when I do, I’m a happier person.  It unites us as a family in a funny way, leaves leftovers for Richie to bring to work that week, and gives me the satisfaction of knowing I “made it with my own hands”;)

Here are some pics of me and the fam (plus another of my cute dad) in the kitchen.  Every year, my in-laws do an Apple Festival where we all make dishes from the yummy organic apples that grow in their back yard.  These pics are from the season right before I had Avital (hence the super large waistline;).