Tracy Lee Karner
The Way I Was

And on my day off, I cook

Tracy Lee Karner
Premixed dry ingredients for pita, yeast in a shot glass so it won’t start acting until I need it to, tomorrow.

This is the season for reflection and reassessment. And I’ve been thinking about the notion that weekends ought to be all about good food and relaxing.

Once a week, I’ve decided to take a no-work day, which, for me means no writing (despite that I love my work).

Cooking, however is not work for me–it’s pleasure. Mostly because Ken does most of the cooking and kitchen work during the week (I know, lucky me!) so by Sunday, I’m itching to get into the kitchen to play around.

For the past weeks on my day off, I’ve also entirely put away the computer–didn’t touch it at all, for anything. And I don’t have an ipad or cell phone–so my day off means we’re disconnected from wifi. It has been so relaxing, we’ve  decided to make every seventh day a true holi-day.

But we’re not claiming to have invented the idea of rest–we’re merely concurring that even now (or especially in these times) it remains a wise idea to take a weekly day off, to restore mental, physical and emotional health.

My weekly sabbatical is for puttering around in the kitchen and doing whatever I feel like doing. It’s for,taking twice as long as necessary to do anything (for example, to make a meal) because I’m truly puttering, interspersed with reading whatever I feel like (poetry, cookbooks and memoirs are my favorites) entirely to please myself. No research, no goals for self-improvement–

you see, I’m a perfectionist who has a compulsion for self-improvement; but I’m working on it!

If the meal I’m making is really complicated–and making falafel AND pita from scratch IS time-consuming, I do part of it the day before. So in preparation for a big meal, the day before I plan to serve it, I will start the chickpeas soaking, chop the veggies and mix the spices for the falafel (recipe coming next week).

and I mix up the Tahini-yogurt dressing:

  • 1/3 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 teaspoon Grey Poupon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. Put all the ingredients in a small glass jar with a cover (a jam jar, for instance), shake well and refrigerate. Shake or stir again just before serving.

I also combine the dry ingredients for the pita (for the link to my pita recipe: click here).

From the picture at the top of this post, you’ll notice I didn’t blend in the active dry yeast yet. Because I know from experience that I tend to forget to add the yeast when I’m doing this time saving-thing, I nestle a shot-glass into the bowl with the yeast in it. If I pour the yeast into the dry ingredients, the yeast gets active, and right now, I want it to rest. If I allow it to work today, it will have no oomph left over for the job I need it  to do, tomorrow.

How important do you think rest is? Do you manage to get enough of it? How? or why not?

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7 thoughts on “And on my day off, I cook”

  1. You are so right. I strongly believe life is about balance, finding a right mix in everything we do. Taking a rest, a real rest, without even trying to process actively what happened is so important. Our minds need rest, just like our bodies. Life can be exhausting, and just letting our soul’s feet dangle at rather regular intervals is so good.

    Like you, cooking meals can be that. I love being in the kitchen by myself, with my bottle of cooking wine, and cooking up a storm. There is nothing exhausting in this, just deliberate slowing down.

    I do not know much poetry, but there is one poet who keeps enriching my life again and again. Over 10 years ago, I lived in Seoul, Korea for a half year. There, I got in touch with the writings of Ko Un. His life story alone is incredible, and he has a way of reaching my deepest inners with a few lines. I find the English translations less good than the German translations, but I was still wondering whether you have read some of his writings. Powerful, powerful stuff.

    Other than that, I do enjoy biographies and autobiographies a lot, too. Currently reading a Patrick Henry biography, and I kinda feel like diving into that 5 volume adventure of LBJ’s life (yes, I am a deeply politically interested person, too)…

    1. I’ve only read the first 2 volumes of LBJ (but then, that was a LONG time ago, and maybe now they’ve been divided differently… I know there was more to come, but I didn’t think it was 3 volumes). Very enlightening.
      I’ve been out of the poetry loop for too long, especially the international poetry loop. I’m going to look up Ko Un. And suggest you look at contemporary American poet Alice B. Fogel. I think you’ll really like her work.

  2. For many years I was a member of a Sabbath-keeping Christian church. That can become very legalistic but there was something wonderful about knowing that one day a week you had time away from the everyday – time with family and friends and time alone for reflection. Even now I sometimes declare a day of rest, and although I may be doing some work around the house (and outdoors, since I live in the country!) I spend the day in my pajamas and take things easy. I’m taking several days off the end of this week and beginning of next and I have no special plans. Oh, I’ll work on my never-ending projects but it will mostly be ME time!

    1. It’s difficult to find the right balance between commitment and legalism, I think.

      Me time is seriously important; also difficult to find the right balance between giving time and me time…. Maybe there is no such thing as balance? Maybe we’re always teeter-tottering?

  3. I think rest is so important – and too easily I find myself not getting enough. I struggle with balance and seem to always be overdoing it in one way or another. I have to specifically choose to set aside time for myself. For relaxing, recharging and just being. One of my favorite ways to do it is to spend time tinkering in my kitchen – just playing and enjoying the process. Cooking has always been my way of dealing with things and how I prefer to unwind. I think it has to do with how mindless chopping and stirring can be. My mind is free to wander. It’s been my escape for years.

    1. I always knew we had a lot in common. Cooking, for me, is a way to get back into my body after writing, which makes me live too much in my head. Yes, my mind wanders, but at the same time, I have to pay attention to the knife and stove–I can’t be detached from what I’m doing because it’s dangerous not to be physically present when I’m in the kitchen (cuts and burns! ouch!).

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