brisket night

brisket_night.jpg
The Briskettes,Canon Digital Rebel

It’s an odd kind of feminism that I adopted as a teenager. I decided early on that I would never wear pantyhose, put on foundation, have a skin regimen (I stopped washing my face when I was 17), iron my clothing or wear any makeup besides the occasional lipstick. I refused to wear high heels and insisted on sporting very large bootlike doc-marteny things that weighed a ton.

Some of these promises have since fallen by the wayside.

I also decided that I didn’t want to learn to cook or sew. (What was I thinking?!) I suppose I never wanted to be a homemaker in that traditional sense {or what my image of that was} and my theory was that if I was unqualified to do those things then maybe I would avoid that particular fate. I was good at math, had a degree in economics and loved to wield a paintbrush. I figured I was ready to make it in a man’s world.

But in the last few years it hit me like a freight train, “I forgot to learn how to cook and sew!” and I imagined how wonderful it would be to cook a beautiful meal, to hem my own pants, or make cushions for the couch. As I grew to be more nesty, my desire to make my home rich with foods and fabrics grew as well. When I imagine having a family it includes feeding them! and I have noticed that I actually enjoy doing this more and more.

The subject came up with my friends and since none of us knew how to properly roast a chicken, make a great soup or homemade bolognese, we decided to start a cooking series. Every month or so we’ve decided to choose a particular recipe and slowly but surely we will have a mighty repertoire of foods we cook well. When I mentioned this to my friend Micki, she offered to be the guest chef for our first night-brisket night!

Micki happens to be the same age as my parents and it felt good and right that she would be passing this traditional recipe onto us. It was sweet last night in my kitchen, having so many of my favorite women in one place cooking and drinking wine.

While I still may never wear pantyhose or wear sensible shoes, I am so grateful to my friends who can cook like nobody’s business. They will lead me gently into the future and Matt and I might just be fed well in the process.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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28 Comments

  1. mati

    that photo captures so much happiness! i think i mentioned this before, but i love your stove.

  2. Caroline

    I love your kitchen.

  3. Stephanie

    Guys and girls can do anything they want to. So what if a girl wants to learn how to cook and sew? The beauty is she can if she wants to.
    🙂
    I am raising my boys to understand that the more they know the more choices they will have. And I am really glad my 9-year old is strong enough to carry the trash to the garbage can now!

  4. emdot

    I love reading your blog and seeing your photos here, but there is a part of me that wishes your photos were on flickr so that they could all go in my favorites. That kitchen photo is too much. I love it.

  5. Gayla

    Oh Andrea, I have suffered so much conflict in the past as a result of this very issue. I’m a good cook and can sew, design patterns, garden and do all kinds of crafty female-dominated skills. I’m proud of it now, but when I was younger I had a lot of guilt and self-depricating thinking about it. I felt I was wasting time on skills that would never help me get far in life. And I saw my male collegues who were more focussed on skills that benefited their professional lives in a really direct way receiving praise in the workplace. I obviously love doing these things but I am also an independent, non-traditional, not-so-feminine, strong-willed female so this side of me was really scary and unnerving. It took a while but I can now see the value and importance of these skills — the self-reliance and support they provide and how much they contribute to my mental, physical and emotional well-being.
    It’s so funny how we place value on this stuff too. Like if you call a person who cooks well a “chef” that carries a sense of importance and practiced craft, but if they’re just a person who cooks good healthy food for themself and their family it’s merely “domestic”. All of these things are real skills that require a lot of learning and practice.
    Years ago I got into a fight with a male friend who was making fun of my interest in gardening and calling me “granny”. And I replied, “Well I know both the common and Latin names of lots of plants and know the care and maintenance requirements of all them by memory. I can grow some of my own food from seed and am not dependant on the supermarket to meet all my needs. What’s so lame about that?”
    I love your cooking series idea.

  6. Leonie

    Oh Andrea ~
    I just love this!
    The concept, the photo,
    the cheerful cheerful homely atmosphere in the kitchen 😀
    I too was a late starter to the world of cooking ~ and now relish those moments making good soup… aside from when it burns the ass off the pans. 😉
    The joys, the tribulations, the hurdles, the laughter in cooking!
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Love and laughter,
    Leonie

  7. mary

    I learned how to cook later in life also. I first learned to make a good Italian gravy! I am a very good cook 20 some odd years later. Someday your feet are gonna want comfy shoes…be prepared and forwarned (lol).

  8. Jennifer

    I love Gayla’s response – soooo right on target. I’ve just always thought that whatever interests people is whatever interests people, you know? Whether it’s working in the garden, playing pick-up basketball or whatever.
    I’m finally, in my (eee-gads) late 30s, learning how to cook, and it is kind of fun. I mean, I will never be Wolfgang Puck, certainly, but I think if there are some things that we can do pretty decently, then that’s kind of the point. And I love your idea of getting a group of people once a month. I had a friend in college that used to entertain a lot, and the cooking part of it is really a big deal – sort of makes the rest of the night. And my grandmother makes awesome brisket, so good luck with that!

  9. penelope

    Ooh, looks like you guys had so much fun! 🙂

  10. Emily

    ooh how much fun!!! 🙂 is micki the wonderful woman i met at glide? she looks sooo familiar. maybe our paths crossed in a previous existance! ? hehe.
    bless you, beautiful one!
    xoxoxo
    eMiLy

  11. Milly

    Cool, that sounds like a lot of fun. I’d love to have a cooking night with all my friends. What’s the next yummy recipe?

  12. tine

    What a night you had! Looks like soo much fun!
    I gotta admit that I never learned how to cook or sew either. I do wear pantyhose though but no skirts nor high heels or make up. I’m all natural, babe! I never liked any of this girly stuff. It might have to do with my ever jealous girlfriends (god, girls can be so mean, man) or my ever cynical mom making fun of me when I had my hair up with a clip commenting that I looked like a granny…yeah, right, veeery funny.
    Big heavy boots? Love it. Keeps my feet planted firmly on the ground. I am starting to like shiny, sparkly things though and pinks and lilac and stuff and am becoming more “girly” (fairly easy when one works a few hours here and there at Pier 1).
    I lately started thinking about learning how to quilt (got no machine though,ha!) so I might give it a try one fine day.
    Cookingwise, I never enjoyed it and am completely spoiled by my husband who looves to cook and does it so well. Baking is all right(…guess no one ever made fun of that).
    Andrea, it is our time to shine now, let’s do it!!
    Oh and guess what, because I’m going through this major transition in my life right now, my little pimples are leaving my skin in my face, finally.
    Kick butt!
    ~tine.

  13. jenn

    andrea,
    this is such a great plan you have going. cooking with friends is a great way to not only get to know them, but also get to be close to them. As a woman who has just completed a culinary course, i can offer to come show you and your friends how to make anything you want, if you can show me your beautiful city.
    jenn

  14. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  15. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  16. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  17. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  18. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  19. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  20. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  21. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  22. Anonymous

    Cooking is necessary unless you are a millionaire.
    Pantyhose are needless, self-inflicted Hell.

  23. Chris

    My, your photos always reveal such interesting small stories about your life. It is fun to try to piece it all together and it seems far from mundane. You are also quite fortunate to have such a large group of good friends. Many people do not have this luxury. Also, a note about hose/heels and that junk. I, too, have abandoned hose and fancy shoes, many many years ago. While walking through the shops a few months ago, I spied a really cute pair of 4″ heels – for fun I thought I would try them on. My feet no longer fit into that type of shape. I couldn’t even begin to get my foot into the shoe – no hard feelings about that one…..

  24. laura

    Andrea,
    Cooking is so much fun. I was very lucky to grow up in Ireland when there were no microwaves, tv dinners, convenience foods etc.
    I learned to cook from watching and helping my mother and grandmother. My mother made the best bolognese, my grandmother, the most amazing roast potatoes.
    Cooking is such a social thing if you have a large enough kitchen to accomodate a few friends. And it looks like you do. The cook should never be isolated from those they are hosting!!
    I can’t recommend Nigella Lawson enough. Her recipes are simplicity itself, she writes a column for the New York Times.
    Closer to home, in Ireland we have had some great cook books published recently, the Ballymaloe Cookery Course, The Avoca Cafe cookbooks. All have very simple, traditional recipes.
    People are afraid of cooking sometimes. If you ruin something through experimentation, who cares. Feed it to the dog or throw it out, start again.
    Happy Cooking! It’s fun. 🙂

  25. ali

    I think this could be one of my favorite entries Andrea – love the idea, love the power to accept things into our lives that we had previously discounted. You are going to be such a great mama someday 🙂

  26. JC

    It’s amazing how much better cooking gets with good company.

  27. Bryna

    hello andrea,
    i have been learning to cook too. i like recipes that are simple and colourful best.
    here is my favourite soup recipe. (for your next culinary adventure perhaps…)
    *carrot-ginger soup*
    ingredients:
    2 lbs. carrots
    4 cups vegetable broth
    1 tbs. butter
    1 1/2 cups chopped onion
    2 or 3 cloves of garlic
    2 tbs. grated ginger (and a bit more for good luck)
    1 1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. each:
    cumin
    ground fennel
    cinnamon
    allspice
    dried mint
    3 or 4 tbs. fresh lemon juice
    1 cup toasted cashews
    instructions:
    1) peel and trim carrots and cut them into one inch chunks. place in a pot with vegetable broth, cover and bring to a boil. lower the heat and simmer until very tender (about 10 to 15 minutes).
    2) heat the butter in a small skillet. add onions and saut? over medium heat for about 5 minutes. add garlic, ginger, salt and spices. turn the heat to low and continue to saut? so that the flavours have time to mingle. stir in lemon juice.
    3) pur?e ingredients in the blender (including cashews). transfer the pur?e to the pot and heat before serving.
    4) enjoy!
    this recipe serves 6 to 8 people, and freezes very well. yum!

  28. Julia

    I love it that you, and some of those dear to you are gathering together to learn, and cook, and enjoy the togetherness of friendship and good food. The roast brisket sounded so yummy….and who knows?? Maybe you will become so skilled at cooking that an “Andrea cookbook” will be your next creative offering to the world?!! Happy cooking!! 🙂

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