Feasting

Watch oil painting “We Gather Together” come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse)

Inspired by my family… that’s me in the red and my husband across from me. Our son in the green, and our two girls nearest to you. Of course this doesn’t look like us exactly, and is out of proportion and perspective, but it captures the warmth and love I feel when I cook for my family. The candlesticks are inspired by real ones I have that were my parents. Dad brought them back from the war and Mom would save them for “good”, which means that she didn’t actually use them. Both my parents died young. I have decided never to save anything for good. Every day that I am alive is a good day.

I spent today cooking up a feast for my family. The plan was to cook up a variety of meats and then use those in different recipes. A full day of cooking and baking that will provide meals for the week ahead. So, I made three dishes from sausage: an egg, red pepper, and sausage scramble for eating inside warm tortillas, a baked pasta dish, and as topping on a homemade pizza. I made three dishes from ground beef: meatballs with egg noodles and gravy, a second topping for the pizza, and part of a second baked pasta dish. And so on. I made cookies also, thumbprint sugar cookies with jam baked in.

The pizza was absurd! It was so heavy because I crammed it with enough toppings to be a meal all by itself: fresh mushrooms, red bell pepper, chopped sweet onion, sliced red onion, sausage, seasoned ground beef, ham, bacon, pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, tomato sauce mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. All of that on a hefty thick homemade yeast crust.

Cooking in a large batch like this can save time and money because each single package of meat was stretched into three or more meals. I plan to start my next painting tomorrow and I won’t have to set aside time to cook. My kids often cook for themselves, but that ties up the kitchen and makes a lot of noise behind my head. My “studio” is just the back wall of the kitchen.

So, there are practical reasons to occasionally take a day for cooking multiple meals ahead, but… the best reason is that the day of cooking means that all of these meals are fresh from the oven at once, like a giant feast. When my family walked in the door after a long day, much of it spent in heavy rains, they were happy to walk into a kitchen bursting with food. They said it smelled like a pizzeria in here.

Holiday times are a wonderful escape. Feasting with family and friends can feel like nothing else matters, and the stress of our lives is far away. Every now and then an ordinary day comes along, and there’s no holiday in sight, and it’s too long to wait for a season that’s months in coming. Why wait for the right time? Why wait for permission, convention, or a date on the calendar? The only day that matters is today.

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