A Slice of Brie

Brie's Journal

Kiss the Cook

Written By: Mrs. Hanni - Nov• 24•12

When Tony and Sam left for their Daddy-Daughter camping trip, I wondered what I would cook during their absence.  I had no idea how I would treat myself, from a culinary perspective in their absence; it was a deliciously tempting curiosity.  I had just found delight in French cuisine, I had prepared three and four course meals and had lingered flirtatiously with feeding my family à la française.  “Well, its my first day, I’ll just go out,” I reasoned around noon.  I never cooked a single meal during their week long absence.  I didn’t boil water, brew my own cup of coffee, or push “start” on the microwave.  I treated myself to Starbucks bistro, Mayfield Bakery (my favorite) and my favorite Pizza Marguerite, served at Babbo’s at Stanford Shopping Center–a restaurant I’ve loved since I was seventeen.  After the week had passed, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Do I actually love to cook, or do I just love my family?”

During the last month of my pregnancy–or maybe two months– I again found myself on a kitchen hiatus.  I did brew my own coffee, but otherwise I was completely uninspired to do anything gastronomique.  Somehow, we all managed to get food into our bellies;  it isn’t fair to say “somehow”–Tony became the Hanni head and sous chef, among many other roles an expecting husband fills.   It was several weeks after Stella’s birth that I found myself playing in the kitchen and enjoying meal preparation.  Luckily for our family I am again growing enamored with food:  preparation, presentation and pleasure.  Whether these aspirations of mine are long or short-lived, realistic or otherwise, I found myself purchasing Christmas tins tonight at Grocery Outlet with the expectation of baking Christmas cookies with Sammie and delivering them to our neighbors.  I thought, we could either borrow Amma’s cookie cutters, or Sammie can pick one or two Christmas themed shapes she likes and we can make a special trip (perhaps to Sur La Table) and  purchase the cookie cutters for the occasion.  Why is it that I am so enamored with the image and mystique of the quintessential mid-twentieth century woman, specifically mother?  I define a portion of my success as a mother and wife based on the quality and quantity of food I provide my family.  I recognized that as a mother of a young child I have the unique opportunity to create magic in her world.  I can help orchestrate the wonder of her childhood.  I want to create it in our kitchen and our own backyard (and also, eventually on the road–our family is in need of a vacation).  I want to teach Samantha and Stella (and myself) about health and healthy attitudes about eating.  I want to cultivate hearty family conversations around the dinner table.

Reality:  Situation a)  Sam has a meltdown at the dinner table; Tony has served her milky milk in either the wrong color sippy cup, or in a glass that doesn’t meet her specific expectation of fancy:  she wants the $60 champagne flute or bust!

Situation b)  Dinner is being served during a new episode of The Simpsons, so Tony will peek at his favorite show while we eat. Situation c)  It is six o’clock and we’re still grocery shopping for dinner.

Situation d)  We’re all getting hungry and no one has laid claim over the kitchen.

Situation e)  In the initial weeks after Stella’s birth, more and more meals are being served in front of the television, we’ve even picked up a pizza from Round Table and eaten it in the parking lot, some eating inside the car, some outside and Sam eating her pizza while her head protrudes from the sun roof.


Somehow, I can see WAY beyond where we are to where I want to bring our family.

The Goal:  Meal plans are done three or more days in advance.  I have all the groceries I require and my pantry is organized so I simply pull out the premeditated bin of ingredients specific to tonight’s dinner and begin preparations.  The table is dressed to match the flavor of cuisine; Samantha helped pick out the flowers, or lay the tablecloth and set the table with place settings even before any cooking began.  Music plays while Samantha and I chat about food.  I help her measure ingredients, we sample the food as we prepare.  Stella swings peacefully nearby and I am able to nurse her at scheduled increments.  The food is varied, delicious and Tony feels satisfied and loved when he leaves the dinner table.  We all converse about our day, talk about our immediate lives and the happenings around the community and world.  We invite neighbors and friends to join us for dinner and throw successful dinner parties.  Bottom line:  the happenings around the table matter in our life and become magical.


As I continue to grow in my blog, I hope to juxtapose and merge reality and the goal I hold dear in my June Cleaver heart and include photos and recipes that greet our family diner table.  Whether messy or ornate, premeditated or sloppy, may they be lovely.


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