The Kitchen and the Keyboard

Everyone has at least one passion. Some are into sports; others, religion. Some parents are totally dedicated to their families. There are gamers, role-players, binge watchers, influencers, photographers, workout fanatics. Some focus their attention on saving rescue animals, the environment, society, or the world at large. Whatever it is, I think it is good to have a passion, something you can dive into with your complete heart, soul, and mind.

For me, it is the kitchen and the keyboard.

I have been fascinated with cooking as early as my teenage years. Granted, I had no meaningful knowledge of cuisine or cooking implements. Simply the act of cooking was enjoyable, to say the least. Over the years, as I became a homeowner, I picked up bits and pieces along the way. It has been invaluable knowledge that has allowed me to focus on creating meals that might be varying combinations of healthy, exotic, unique, and worthwhile. I was proud to purchase an Instant Pot and slowly determined all the uses for it (some of which I have yet to explore). Just recently, I made Paneer and then found a recipe to make Spiced Pan-Fried Paneer. This is an appetizer I would never have thought of in the past.

I was thrilled to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer, giving my soon-to-become arthritic hands a much needed rest from kneading dough. And instead of making just two loaves a year (a Challah for Thanksgiving and Grandma Dorothy’s Dill Bread for Christmas), I made a Seeded Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day, an Olive Oil and Herb Bread (with Herbs de Provence), and a Crusty Artisan Bread. I have made muffins of all kinds with the silicone molds I got for a present.

Not to stop there, I got a pasta extruder and meat grinder and have been making and stuffing sausages and thin spaghetti and rigatoni and bratwurst. Yes, there is still a great deal of effort, but the end results are well worth it.

My other passion (which should be obvious) is writing. The keyboard. Whether it was the “portable” Smith-Corona typewriter or the Brother word processor or any one of a number of desktop or laptop computers. From writing short stories as a kid to attempting to learn screenwriting as a college student, then segueing into poetry and finally fiction. And then, from contemporary crime fiction to historical crime fiction.

These are my passions.

Look closely and you will notice some similarities. There is a need for the proper tools. For the kitchen, it is obvious and some have previously been described. For writing, there is a great deal of research necessary for the historical aspect. Books on writing, whether it’s Strunk and White’s Elements of Style or something more personal, like Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” There are web sites and chat rooms and message boards. There is the local writer’s group, like the Kansas Authors Club, or a conference such as OWFI. We have scrap paper and a printer and ink, tons of pens and pencils, paper clips and staplers, maybe a cork board or whiteboard to have ideas readily available. In my case, I have a map of Wichita pinned to my wall.

Your passions require creativity, not just if they are associated with the arts. There needs to be something unique and different about YOUR particular passion. After all, what makes it special to you? You need to be dedicated to it. Some people, even yourself, might think it is only a hobby. That’s fine. But in order to fully enjoy it, committing yourself to it will amplify your pleasure.

There are, of course, limits. As we age, we may lose our abilities in these passions. In both cases, I worry about what will become of my hands. Forming sausage patties, pouring and measuring ingredients, and typing for extended periods of time could become an issue. Failing eyesight could prevent me from seeing a recipe or editing my work. These are not things to worry about or concern ourselves with now. At this moment in time, once you have been fortunate enough to find your passions, you continue on, knowing that your life has been made fuller by those things that bring out the best in you.

What are your passions?

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