I love to cook. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to leave the dorm and get back into an apartment of my own, one with some semblance of a kitchen (I may have gotten used to many aspects of life in Japan but I still have serious issues with calling a couple of elements and a sink in the hallway an actual "kitchen"). I really enjoy cooking for my dad when I visit for the holidays, and have started occasionally cooking for friends here in Japan. But I find myself more likely to pick up a quick bento or throw together a basic bowl of pasta or a sandwich than to actually cook myself a full meal. "What's the point? It's only me eating after all!" I think to myself, and throw together whatever is in the fridge.
I read blogs like La Fuji Mama and Blue Lotus and think "Mmm, that looks good! I should try that next time I'm in Canada." But hold on... I have a kitchen right? I may not have copious amounts of free time to make elaborate ten course meals every night (and I definitely can't make it all look as delicious or as easy as La Fuji Mama does), but if I make up big batches of freezeable dishes (as I sometimes do with home-made vegetable soups, various types of curry/stew, and veggie stirfry), then I can enjoy good, homemade food for a number of meals with only minimal effort and time needed any given night. I won't be "wasting time cooking just for me," instead I can enjoy the actual cooking process and get yummy food out of it.
My kick in the pants for all of this was La Fuji Mama's recent call to join her in cooking up recipes from the incredible Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh. I read LFM's post and before I knew it I had ordered a copy of the book on Amazon.co.jp. It arrived yesterday afternoon and I'm thrilled!
I love Japanese food, and I eat it regularly, but I don't cook more than a few set dishes (okonomiyaki, ozoni, etc). As I found myself explaining to my dad, I blame this on my tendency to cook without a recipe. This works fine for dishes that I grew up watching my mother or stepmother make, but doesn't work so well for the cuisine of my adopted home. I'm going to try to remedy that situation - one recipe/one month at a time. We'll see how far I get (my thesis is beginning to really loom over my head) but I'm excited. And I know my mother, who inspired in me a love of cooking from a very young age, would be proud.