Another rainy day, a canceled trip to the beach — a chance to cook.
Once my kids and I saw rain on Wednesday, we quickly changed gears and replaced our overstuffed beach bags with shopping bags bursting with tomatoes, eggplant and basil. A “cooking playdate” with Debbie and her kids was quickly arranged. Despite a bit of dreary weather disappointment, the kids were eager to play with their friends, and I was excited to cook with mine.
At Debbie’s house, I began unloading ingredients to make our Slow Simmered Tomato sauce and Eggplant Parmesan as she set the kids up with activities. The boys were in the room next door, with Legos and a video camera, creating stop frame animation films, and the girls were in the basement with paint, brushes and paper, painting a series of playful animals.
As I chopped the garlic and salted some eggplant (hoping that I wouldn’t over salt the food), I listened to Debbie speaking with the girls. Ironically, my daughter, who must have seemed a bit apprehensive using non-washable paint, was also thinking about making a mistake. I overheard Debbie calming their 9 year old nerves by teaching them the importance of an artist making mistakes. In fact, she told them, it is the only way to get better.
I took these words to heart as I briefly worried about over-salting our eggplant rounds. And, when Debbie later burnt the pine nuts for our pesto and then dropped a dozen eggs on the floor, I shared her own advice with her. With a tray filled with blackened pine nuts, Debbie was reminded of the critical moment of browning. And, while wiping up an eggy mess on the floor, she learned the importance of slowing down a bit while cleaning up.
In a few weeks, when my family sits down to enjoy a summer fresh Eggplant Parmesan, I may or may not learn to salt my food less. I’ll just have to wait, taste and see.
Lesson learned: A home cook, also an artist of sorts, must make mistakes in order to learn and improve.