I consider myself to be a pretty good cook. And though I enjoy cooking, I also hate cleaning. Anyone out there feelin’ me? While I can take joy in cooking for others, I find that I sometimes feel under-appreciated or taken for granted. This lessens my joy—and I’m conflicted in feeling this way. Aren’t we supposed to have a servant’s heart and self-sacrifice? If I’m doing that, why isn’t this bringing me that dose of joy of giving without expectation? I thought I’d dig a little deeper.
When I think of others cooking for the people they love and how it makes them feel, I have to consider a few different scenarios. You could be like me and enjoy some aspects of the process. Perhaps you’re like my nephew, Chef Eddie, who finds cooking cathartic. Or, let’s say you just hate to cook all together. I assume that one’s feeling about having to cook for their loved ones will vary from person to person, based on how much they enjoy whipping up a meal.
I started an interview with my daughter, who is not a huge fan of cooking. Since she is currently starting a job in another city, she has been staying with some friends. She has found cooking meals her best way to contribute to the household, which has helped her see things in a whole new light. In our discussion, she found it interesting that I did not find cooking particularly enjoyable (namely, the cleaning part). I never thought to tell her that it bothered me that at times she didn’t offer to help. You see, it wasn’t about disliking the task so much for me as feeling not appreciated for it.
I also had an experience with a friend who I invited over for a barbecue. I had spent two hours preparing side dishes and seasoning the meat, so when he arrived, we could be ready to grill. When he arrived, I asked him to start up the grill. He was annoyed at this and suggested we just pick up some McDonald’s instead. It was apparent he hated grilling. His response was hurtful, and I responded as you might expect…unkindly. Neither of us was feeling good about doing this act of service for one another. After a quick reflection, we both apologized and proceeded to enjoy some fantastic food. What I learned here was that he expected to arrive to an already prepared plate of food while mine was for him to come to help me. We each had our expectations set based on past experiences, perhaps from childhood or a previous marriage or relationship.
I then discussed the topic with Chef Eddie. What was his take on cooking for others, and what kind of feelings did this service produce in him? He shared that although cooking was cathartic, he always waited to hear or see how people reacted to his food. The experience would be satisfying to see someone enjoying it, or disappointing to know that it was not appreciated. Although the task was enjoyable, the response was just as important.
I realized that receiving joy from cooking as an act of service requires a few things. First, we must help our family or friends understand how we feel about cooking, as well as let them know how meaningful their response to the gesture is. By communicating, we can avoid hurt feelings and resentment. If your family or friends know there is sacrifice mixed in the service you are doing for them, they may be keener to showing appreciation. Cooking, enjoyable or not, is usually a labor of love. There is something special about nourishing our loved ones, and it is nice to know your loved ones can see your sacrifice and effort. We haven’t all reached Mother Theresa status.
Now, after our reflection and lots of discussion, my daughter and I have come to a better understanding of each other. She is more aware that offering to help with meals and cleaning are acts of service that mean very much. We have also been taking the time to do something we both love–spending time together and collaborating. Cooking offers the perfect opportunity for this. This week, we came up with a yummy gluten-free, peanut butter cookie recipe. If you also enjoy cooking with those you love the most, try making these with them, too!
Bon Appetite, friends!
Alma’s Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup Truvia for baking
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup gluten-free flour (or regular flour for the gluten-full kind)
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a large cookie baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend.
- Scoop the dough with a medium size (1 and 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoops, roll them in your hand into balls, and place on prepared cookie sheet. Space them about 2″ apart. Gently press down with a fork (we like ours with the checkerboard look).
- Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they have reached your desired state.
- Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.