As the years go by, I’ve realized that there are few things that can describe “love” as well as the process of cooking for someone you love.
Cooking, especially when you’re cooking for someone else, often tends to be a messy, tedious, and sometimes expensive process.
There are the hours of brainstorming what to cook – Will the person like it? What allergies does the person have? Or what’s in season that can be bought fresh and local? Then there’s the execution of the plan – going to the farmer’s market (or for city dwellers like myself, the supermarket), and then choosing the freshest, prettiest foods from the shelves, before paying a sometimes hefty fee (depending on the quality and type of foods you choose) and lugging the bags of groceries home.
When you’re finally home in the kitchen, peeling vegetables and marinating meats, preparing your “mis en place”, there’s a need to be organized – Which tasks have higher priority? What should I focus my attention on first? Eventually, when all the necessary ingredients are in their place and it’s time to cook, whether using the wok, the skillet, the grill or the oven, it requires your rapt attention. Be distracted for just a few sections and the salmon could go from being soft and tender to too dry and burnt. Leave your muffins just a few minutes longer in the hot oven and you could end up with rocks instead of delicious snacks. Shake too much salt into your scrambled eggs and you’ll have to end up throwing your breakfast away.
Love, between lovers, or friends or family, is also similar this way.
Love takes time and thought – we have to put in attention and effort into our relationships for them to constantly grow and be fruitful. Lack of planning and brainstorming new ways to nurture the bonds and you might find yourself at a loss of how to go forward. But while intention counts, it’s not just that thought that matters. You’ll often find yourself needed to go out on a limb to do things for your loved ones and family; it may not be easy, nor will it be convenient; sometimes you may not even want to do those things, but for the relationship to grow, you’ll have to. And then, just like when you’re cooking in the kitchen, you have to pay attention and be careful, because a few harsh words or several seconds of neglect and distraction and the relationship may take a turn that cannot be reversed.
Perhaps a common interest and time spent together (fully) helps as well to nurture and nourish a relationship that you wish to preserve.
Juan and I are both busy people, and sometimes, between his crazy working hours and my gazillion activities, we tend to forget to pay attention to the other – sometimes we are together, but each of us in our own thoughts.
And so, I try to remember the importance of us having common ground; of agreeing to disagree but to be kind either way; and I love it when we spend time together doing something we both enjoy.
I especially take great pleasure when both of us are cooking together in the kitchen. He often says that I’m quite territorial in the kitchen (given that I’m the one who does most of the cooking), but I can tell her likes to be part of the process, so I try to be less of a kitchen control freak and to learn to enjoy the process.
One Friday night not too long ago, I was in the kitchen trying to make these crepes.
The original recipe had only called for 1 1/2 cups of liquid, which ended in a really thick batter. By adding a bit more liquid at a time, the batter slowly thinned out, but it still wasn’t thin enough to form crepes – it looked more like pancake batter. So when Juan entered the kitchen and saw me throwing thick crepe after thick crepe into the bin, he boldly poured almost two times more of milk into the batter. I’d jumped back in horror – and was almost about to lose my temper when I realized it was just crepe batter, I should let him experiment and be less uptight.
Eventually, we achieved the right consistency, and as we took turns at the stove flipping crepes from one light brown side to the other, I realized that it was among the first few times that we were both actively cooking together – and it made me smile so wide. It was a moment we both enjoyed and it was a way to share an experience side by side. Between being patient enough for the crepes to unstick from the pan and trying not to break them, we were having a good time, and that was all that mattered.
These crepes, which are made of quinoa and whole grain flour, are pretty and delicious and healthy – you can fill them with whichever fruit and cream you like. We love our strawberries and cream, so that was not much of a difficult decision.
Thin, golden-brown crepes cooked in a little bit of butter, slathered generously with homemade whipped cream and juicy, fresh strawberries, then drizzled over with raw organic honey.
But more than being a beautiful, tasty dessert, these crepes are proof and a reminder of teamwork and mutual respect for the other. So I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did. And that you’ll learn to take time to enjoy a common activity with your loved ones too.
STRAWBERRIES & CREAM QUINOA DESSERT CREPES (Makes 12 crepes)
Inspired by: MJ and Hungryman
For the quinoa dessert crepes:
1) ½ cup of uncooked quinoa
2) 1 cup of water
3) 3 ½ cups of milk (or more depending on consistency of batter)
4) 1/4 cup vegetable cooking oil
5) 2 tablespoons of honey
6) 1 large egg, at room temperature
7) 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour (or gluten-free whole wheat flour if necessary)
8) 1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder
9) ½ teaspoon of salt
10) Butter, for cooking crepes
For the strawberries and cream filling:
11) 1 kg of strawberries, washed, leaves removed and sliced thinly
12) 250g of milk cream, whipped
13) Honey, for drizzling over strawberries
1) To cook quinoa: Rinse the uncooked quinoa until water runs clear. Combine rinsed uncooked ½ cup of quinoa with 1 cup of water in a small pot and cook on high heat until water starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover pot, leaving a small gap for vapor to escape, allowing quinoa to cook and simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes is up, switch off the heat, leaving quinoa to stand for 5 minutes, still covered. Uncover after 5 minutes, and fluff quinoa with a fork, allowing it to cool but running quinoa under cold water until it reaches room temperature.
2) In a large bowl, whisk cooked quinoa with milk, oil, honey and egg until combined. Then whisk in whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt, and process the mixture in a blender until you get a homogenous batter. The batter will be quite liquid, but that’s the way it should be.
3) Melt a little butter in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat
4) Pour about ½ cup of batter all around the pan to create a large circle by swirling the pan to spread batter evenly.
5) Allow batter to cook until it automatically un-sticks from pan (this may take a few minutes, but be patient. If you try to flip crepe over before it un-sticks, it will break)
6) Flip crepe over and let cook another 1 or two minutes until lightly browned, then remove from pan.
7) Repeat until all batter has been used up.
8) Place each crepe on a clean plate, then spread with about 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream over the crepe, and top with a handful of sliced fresh strawberries, and drizzle a teaspoon of honey over.