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7/23/06

Dear Kim:

This is a story about making dinner while visiting in rural Pennsylvania. I am not much of a cook. I am an enthusiastic eater but not a cooker.

I am also not much of driver. I am a dreamy girl who prefers to read a book than to follow a recipe, to gaze out the window rather than pay attention to the road.

But I am a house guest and I want badly to be a good house guest. So I cooked.

It would probably be more accurate to say I stirred. Potential had done most of the prep and was outside in the front of the house grilling, so I took on the vegetables.

It was quite a task. The green beans were packed in tightly to a pot that was probably too small. The trick there was to make sure that everything cooked evenly. How to make sure that the beans on top got their fair share of the heat when the beans on the bottom were closer to the source. It struck me as a classic issue of the distribution of resources.

Well, once I headed down Metaphor Lane, there was no stopping.

The next challenge was the stir fry. Potential had cut carrots, peppers, onions, squash and mushrooms. They were either in another too small pot or waiting their turn.

The little dime-sized discs of carrots were resistant and hard, as if they were refusing to cook until they were good and ready. The brightly colored peppers and squash sizzled cooperatively away. They must be middle children in the great spectrum of the vegetable family tree. I knew the mushrooms were the most delicate of the bunch. If I threw them into the hissing pan too soon, they would get mushy and lose their distinction and flavor.

As I stood at the stove trying to time this all out, I thought, wow. Nothing is one size fits all. Even vegetables have distinct personalities and needs. How do we slow down and take enough time to really pay attention and tend to all?

Later,

Joan

Monday July 17, 2006