Writing and Cooking

I realized why I enjoy cooking.

Not baking. I haven’t baked my own bread since we moved to Maryland, though I need to get back to that.

scallionsBut cooking. Cooking just works for me.  It helps me appreciate writing more.

When I cook, I have a challenge to myself to get everything (as close as I can, anyway) to be done as close to the same time as possible.  To time the garlic bread with the spaghetti sauce with the pasta with the salad and so on.  Additional challenges in this kind of thing include making a special sauce for my younger son, who has texture issues, and making sure the garlic knots and the garlic bread both come out evenly, so that all my guys get what they want to eat.

The ingredients are all over the place. I do all my preparations and open my spices and lay out any cooking tools and the pots and pans and so on… and then, I work. And I work hard. And I time the stirring of my pasta with the adding of the rosemary to the meat and so forth. For me, this is exhilarating.  Each aspect of the meal to be treated with respect, of course, and to be boiled, stirred, chopped, etc. as required. And then all the timers go off and everything comes out and ta-da! Dinner for four, served in the kitchen.  Everything is hot and tasty and we are all satisfied.

marked draftWhen I write, this is much the same. I love the ingredients that go into a story. I familiarize myself with the main ones before I begin writing. My lectures and seminars to my furniture might amuse people, but they work for me as I prepare my story for the flurry of creation.  And when I write, each plot line of the story has to be timed just so, so that they resolve themselves within a chapter or two of each other. Thus, the tension is equal throughout the book and my readers are kept engaged (I hope!) as they follow the story lines. And in the end, ta-da! Conflicts resolved, everyone has reached a place of stability of one sort or another, and sometimes, I even let them have a happily ever after.

Hey, it happens!

If you’re a writer and you don’t spend some time cooking on a regular basis, I would challenge you to do so.  Pay attention to the textures of your ingredients and their smells and tastes.  Appreciate the sudden power of diced scallions and the way cinnamon captures air pockets in a pot of water.  Inhale the steam after you take the lid off of a pot of steamed basmati rice.  Immerse yourself in the experience of cooking. You might even wish to take notes.  The beauty of a scene is sometimes in the small details that make it real for a reader.

Baking is fun and it is a challenge as well, but it doesn’t, for me, providing the soul-savory experience that cooking a meal does. Maybe it’s the scallions. 🙂


  1. bebeccalee · August 1, 2013

    The getting everything done at once issue is what stresses me out about cooking! Maybe more prep work is what I need. That makes sense.
    You make it sound like such an amazing experience and not dreadful! lol
    Now I’m going to try and look at it as a fun experiment. And take notes 🙂

    • Sandi · August 1, 2013

      You would be SO awesome at it, Becca. I know it. You’re good at lining your ducks in a row and working to deadline. That’s what this is, really, just on a small, more rushed scale. 😀

  2. Jack Flacco · August 2, 2013

    Hey Sandi! I’m glad I’m not the only one who preps for cooking the way you do. I’m always taking the spices out first, laying them on the counter. Then get my utensils, pans, etc. It’s great when I can see it all in front of me so I can work with what I have. Much like you! 😉

    • Sandi · August 3, 2013

      Hi! Glad I’m not the only one. LOL

  3. Danny Breslin · August 3, 2013

    I can’t cook. Tried it, didn’t like it. Now eating – that’s something I can do but the actual preparation of a meal puts me off the food when I’ve finished. I’ll stick to writing only.

    • Sandi · August 3, 2013

      Good morning! So, you find a meal is more palatable when you aren’t involved with the preparation? I can totally understand that. Many writers, too, can’t read something they’ve written themselves. Makes all kinds of sense. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

      • Danny Breslin · August 9, 2013

        Something I said makes sense? I’ll mark this date in my calendar! lol

  4. Cindy Q · August 6, 2013

    Wow. Impressive. I like cooking and baking. Not nearly so together as you, I start pulling things out and then look at them on the counter and wonder why those were left out. Then, as I put them away, I remember. I turn around and take them back to the counter again. Ha.

    • Sandi · August 6, 2013

      LOL Nah, not impressive. Just practical. At least, for me. I tell stories to myself a lot while I cook, so having all my stuff out and ready enables me to talk to myself without forgetting something. lol

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