Waking Up

How Srubbing Skillets Made Me A Better Cook

Artwork courtesy of my niece, Aravelle Boone

Artwork courtesy of my niece, Aravelle Boone


I love to cook.  But parenting three grade schoolers with an 8 o’clock bedtime means we’ve learned over the years to check our culinary ambitions and crank up the heat to knock out respectable dinners in ten minutes flat.

In an effort to reduce our family’s chemical exposure, we recently traded in our flaking teflon set for high-end stainless cookware -the kind of stuff that still shines after 60 years of hard labor in my grandmother’s kitchen. 

A trail of charred salmon skin and vulcanized garlic quickly pointed to a harsh new reality:  cooking the old way on these new materials would require an additional 15 minutes of scrubbing every night.  As much as I needed to expedite dinner, it took only two nights to know that I’d rather do my time at the stove than agonizing over the sink.

Not torching my cookware would require more than just slowing down.  Stainless can’t be allowed to dry out under the food, which meant that I needed to pay closer attention:  a little more oil, a splash of wine, a drizzle of water.  While I was standing there, a few shallots and another crack of pepper couldn’t hurt.  And I wonder how this extra prosciutto would go over if I julienned it across the top right at the end.

I was soon churning out meals in 20 minutes instead of ten.  But something else was happening:  the quality of my dishes was leaving “respectable” territory and entering the realm of “whoa, this is fantastic…is that prosciutto?”  Nightly meal prep was becoming fun again.

By training my awareness nightly on a specific pain point—avoid scrubbing skillets at all costs—I had inadvertently taken greater care in the preparation of my dishes.  That extra ten minutes has yielded a far richer experience for me in the kitchen, and for my family at the table.  Well worth it.

When we make the effort, not just to slow down, but to really see how we are moving through life, we often discover insights we hadn’t thought to look for.  And this is just as true of seemingly insignificant tasks as it is of your greatest concerns.

What in your life needs closer attention right now?  Perhaps you’ve been avoiding a minor pain point at work or home.  Dare to look, closely.  Really see how you’re moving. A richer experience of life may be just out of view. 

Todd Boone