A friend opened up my fridge today and asked “Where are all the leftovers?” If she only knew what a compliment she had given me.
In the past, after celebrating 2 days of Rosh Hashana, I’ve felt like I’ve been shmaltzed, stuffed and baked myself. So the last couple of years, I’ve made a very big effort to try and avoid cooking to excess. (Given that, I am proud to have a freezer stocked with soups and a modest amount of seasonal produce -it will be winsome to have a rhubarb strawberry pie in October).
If you are the kind of cook who likes to have leftovers in the freezer, then I’m sure this isn’t an issue for you, but I’ve tried to navigate my own black hole of freezer burned mystery contents too often and I find it frustrating.
Why do I overcook?
What I’ve observed is that I overcook when;
- I don’t create a cooking/shopping time plan for overview,
- I’m insecure in the knowledge that what I’m making will be good enough, or
- That that I won’t have enough food.
It requires special effort to notice the thinking that leads to a too tired cook who already has too much going on.
I inevitably embark on a kitchen frenzy when I allow other hectic areas of my life to take charge of my cooking sessions. And it always surprises me that it is more mentally and emotionally challenging to make less food rather than more.
Admittedly, I don’t want to stuff my family and guests. How then, do I moderate my cooking?
Recalling knowledge that is born of experience, I have come to realize that I am the main ingredient. If I am tired, upset, or overworked, it will come through in my food.
The advice of my wise mother (a devoted and superb cook) comes to mind;
- If you are standing, sit. If you are sitting, put your feet up.
- Your friends (and your children’s friends) know you can cook. You don’t have to prove it.
- Although the holidays are a special time, you don’t have to cook every one’s favourite at the same time. There is a whole year of holidays.
And although I still sometimes worry that there won’t be enough food, I have to admit that in all my decades of cooking and hosting, I don’t think anyone has left my table hungry.
I want to leave you with a recipe for Marmouma, a red pepper spread that has been a Rosh Hashana family favourite for years (especially for now because the red peppers are local, inexpensive and plentiful). You still have time to make it for your Sukkos meals, but try not to be in a rush or it may burn, but then again, you can always call it Smoked Marmouma.