This I Believe

Steffi - St. Simons Island, Georgia
Entered on April 4, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity

The Power of Cooking

I believe in the power of cooking. I believe in the happiness that a home-cooked meal can bring to a family. I believe that at Thanksgiving, no one, except maybe a vegetarian, can resist being drawn into the kitchen by the smell of the slowly roasting turkey and stuffing. I believe that the power of cooking rests not only in the taste and appearance of the final product, but also in the journey required in getting the food to the kitchen, the plate, and finally, the mouth.

In my old summer home on Lake Michigan, it was always a tradition for my family to make a real blueberry pie once a summer. We would drive up to Whitefish Point on Lake Superior in early August; since my dad is a geologist, first we collected rocks on the beach. Afterwards, we would travel the back-roads looking for wild blueberries. We would pick as many ripe berries as we could find, collecting the fruit in empty Blue Bunny ice cream buckets and plastic bags.

The next day, if there weren’t enough blueberries to fill a homemade pie shell, my sister Michelle and I would walk around our house looking for wild strawberries and raspberries. That afternoon, my mom would get together all the ingredients while Michelle and I would fight over who got to do what. When the pie was done, we would run to the dinner table to enjoy the fresh, juicy “bumbleberry” pie we had helped make. While we ate our dessert, an invisible bond between my mom, Michelle, and me was created, even though I did not realize it at the time. The process of picking the berries, cooking the pie, and even eating it with my family helped to bring us a little closer and make the time spent in Michigan more special for me.

I also believe that the power of cooking can result in funny disasters. One time, I was trying out a recipe I found in a book I had recently read. It was for making chocolate cupcakes with hot, gooey centers. I spent an hour trying to get all the measurements and steps perfect, and then, at the end, I forgot to measure out the right amount of batter to put in each cupcake holder. I spooned out too much for each one; when they came out of the oven, they had completely overflowed—one of them looked like Mount St. Helens after eruption, including the peak…and the crater. Even though the mini-cakes looked weird, they ended up tasting delicious. This partial catastrophe made Michelle, and me, laugh for weeks, demonstrating that cooking, while looking strange sometimes, helps spread joy in families.

I believe that cooking requires several common ingredients: a happy chef, a dash of family bonding, and an empty stomach. When done correctly (or even with mistakes), cooking can yield awesome results: great food and closer ties with the ones closest to you. This I believe.