My output has been slowed a bit recently due to some weird chapping of my hands. No matter how much lotion I seem to put on, they’re still peeling and it feels weirdly uncomfortable to type. So I have turned my hands to some other tasks like cooking.
Back in 2009 and 2010, I cooked a lot since I had almost nothing else to do because I worked only part time. The oven I had in my second apartment ever got hot too quickly and was not very good for baking. I mainly cooked breakfast (bacon, eggs), the occasional piece of tuna steak or pork chop, and instant mashed potatoes. I gained a lot of weight during this period and didn’t lose most of it until 2013.
My current apartment has better appliances although it is very space-constrained, which makes moving around difficult. The challenge has been invigorating, though. Today I made some turkey burgers mostly following a recipe from Anne Burrell. It seemed absurd at first – I mixed in the turkey, grated ginger, onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, and a quarter-cup of water. It was soggy and gross.
With some handwork though, the patties finally came together. If there’s one issue with ground turkey, it’s that it’s so dry, so all that water and soy sauce was needed to keep the burgers moist after the molding, cooking, and resting. I also added some sautéed peppers and mayonnaise to the final burger and bun combo to ensure that it was thoroughly juicy.
Cooking is like writing in that it seems to never feel good – at least for me – while it’s occurring. Everything seems to be going wrong – maybe that seasoning was too heavy, maybe that paragraph veered off from the rest of the piece – but it seems that if enough anxiety is expended, then somehow it will turn out ok.
Anxiety is sort of to writing what salt and elbow grease are to cooking, in my experience. More so than passion, it makes everything work. It force the mind to go through different dead-ends, possibilities, and pitfalls, to produce something that has direction and holds together against all that could tear it apart.