Every other week, Bon Appetit associate editor Christina Chaey writes about what she’s cooking right now. Pro tip: If you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get the scoop before everyone else.
Dear Healthyish friends,
Hi, hello, and happy new year; after taking a brief newsletter hiatus at the end of The Year That Shall Not Be Named, it feels good to be back.
Related: The Myth of Healthy Eating with Christina Chaey and Vanessa Rissetto
It’s a little late in the month to be discussing new year’s resolutions. But given that this year didn’t feel real—like, really real—until the inauguration happened, I’m giving myself license to share some thoughts on my resolution to make 2021 the year I cook less.
A bit of backstory: Long before food became my career, I fell into a nightly habit of getting home from work and embarking on a hectic evening of multiple cooking projects. I never considered what time I had gotten home (usually after 8 p.m.) or how tired I was (extremely) or any other external factor in my life; all I knew was that I had to cook. Most nights of the week, I would regularly proof dough for cinnamon rolls or braise beef stew (or, more likely, do both) well after 11 p.m. By the time I’d finished cleaning the kitchen and crashed into bed at 2 a.m., I was high on the temporary satisfaction of feeling like I had done something productive. It was the validation I needed in my twenties, when I worked so many jobs in which I felt lost and not good at anything yet refused to ask for help, believing that doing so would make me seem weak.
At the time, I saw cooking as the activity I used to relax and unwind from the stress of the workday; I would often tell people cooking was my therapy. And yet I couldn’t understand why I never felt truly relaxed after a jam-packed weeknight that might include washing and storing an entire week’s worth of produce and making a jar of fruit compote, homemade chicken stock, a batch of granola, and cooked grains for packed lunches, not to mention whatever I was making for dinner. The more I checked off my “To Cook” list, the more stressed and frenetic I felt—though at least I had taken care of tomorrow’s lunch. It seemed no number of late nights spent fastidiously tending pots of beans or caramelized onions could convert the persistent inner voice that made me believe I wasn’t doing enough with my life, despite regular comments from friends and coworkers that I was one of the busiest people they knew.