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Day 09: Cooking Good Food

I just got done scraping the last few bits of a delicious supper off my plate.

My stomach is about to die of happiness, but hopefully I’ll get this blog post done first. Here’s what I made:

I started with brussels sprouts, set in a pot to steam. While they were cooking, I chopped two onions and sautéed them in butter. In a third pan I cooked a few pieces of bacon. When the bacon was done, I fried half a dozen strips of steak in the hot bacon grease. By this time the brussels sprouts were soft, so I added them to the sautéed onions and poured the leftover bacon grease in on top. While they browned together in the pan, I chopped up the steak and bacon. When everything was ready, I plated it up and sprinkled blue cheese and dried cranberries on top.

Then I devoured the whole thing.

If you’d seen me cook a year or two ago, you’d know I’ve come a long way. In my past life, “cooking supper” often meant little more than nachos or frozen pizza, especially when cooking for just myself.



In Hollywood, there’s a little restaurant called Cafe Gratitude. I’ve been there exactly once, on a rainy night in January.

At Cafe Gratitude, they believe that food is a tangible expression of love, a celebration of the ways the earth provides for us and we provide for each other. Every meal is infused with intentions you can almost literally taste.

On the menu, they don’t list items the way most restaurants do (bacon cheeseburger, chicken wrap, southwest salad, etc.) Instead, each item is named with a simple a one-word affirmation: transparent, humble, transformed, renewed, whole.

When you order, you speak the affirmation:

I am whole.

And when the server brings your food, she repeats the affirmation back to you:

You are whole.

I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.


What made Cafe Gratitude so remarkable for me was how far I’d come.

It was the end of a two-week journey across this entire continent, and my heart had lived a lot of life since South Carolina. The first night of the trip, I’d sat curled up in a booth at a burger joint, pouring cheap beer and french fries into my throat, trying to stop the pain and anxiety that throbbed in my chest.

My life was being torn apart, and I felt helpless to keep breathing, much less to put one foot in front of the other.

That’s why it was such a miracle, then, to sit at a table on the other coast just a few weeks later and say, as I accepted with gratitude the earth’s gift of sustaining food,

I am whole.

When I left California that week, I swore I would carry Cafe Gratitude with me in my heart, and begin the practice of preparing food infused with love and intention.


So that’s why I chop onions and sauté vegetables and why I put my food on a plate before I eat it. For just a moment, I look at what I’ve made and say to myself,

This is a gift. I made this for you, with love. Even though you’re the only person who’s going to eat it, YOU are worth it. You’re worth love and intention, time and care, olive oil and blue cheese. You are whole.

And as I am learning to love myself through small plates of delicious food, I’m able to love other people in the same way too.

Come to my house sometime. I’d love to cook for you.


During the month of October, I’m joining the Write31Days challenge to talk about 31 Days of Becoming Human. Click here to read all posts in the series

published October 9, 2015

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