Food, Gwyneth Style.

In an effort to model my life after fabulous celebrities–and thus perfect my existence all around–I’ve been researching a certain Paltrow hard core. I’m planning to empty my shelves and restock with Goop-approved ingredients , cook some My Father’s Daughter recipes, and maybe one day get to a place where cooking is a regular off-the-cuff endeavor filled with farmer’s market ingredients, instead of the rarified stick-to-the-recipe-or-else undertaking it is currently.

In reading through Gwynnie’s cookbook, I’ll admit I’ve become quite inspired. I want to be slow-roasting tomatoes. Right. Now.

But the food her cookbook inspires me to try definitely has me longing for company. What fun is it to make homemade pasta or seafood paella or perfect roasted Chinese duck for one? Or even for two? (I guess I’ll let Matt have some. ) In fact, it doesn’t just make me want to cook for others.. it makes me want to cook with others.

I’ve never really felt this way before. As a recipe stickler (not so much because I believe in recipe rules as because I don’t trust myself to not ruin something if I make personal adjustment), one who usually cooks more for the end result than for the pleasure of the task, I’m usually alone in the kitchen. (Unless you count make-your-own pizza, a fab mission for potential BFFs.) But after reading a chapter or two of My Father’s Daughter I emailed a couple of friends, asking if they had any interest in turning our dinner-and-a-movie Saturday night plans into let’s-cook-a-feast-and-have-an-impromptu-dinner-party plans. It does sound like a pretty fabulous Gwynethish Saturday night: Cooking a feast. Drinking while we cook. Laughing around the table as if life were a Nancy Meyers movie.

This latest life-as-a-celebrity venture is quite different than my BFF venture, because it’s a much more internal journey. I thought the cooking/kitchen part would be the most solitary. I’d have to spend hours in the kitchen, cooking instead of socializing. But something about reading a cookbook that boasts seasonal, healthy, real ingredients makes me want to bring friends into the mix. Cooking and socializing, who’d have thought?

Or maybe I just need someone across the table from to agree that “we are sooo Gwyneth right now.”

At-home chefs and foodies alike, what say you? Do you love cooking for its “me time” or are the best meals the ones cooked with friends?

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Food, Gwyneth Style.

  1. For some reason, cooking desserts with friends is way more fun for me than cooking entire meals (and it also means people can be convinced more easily to drink and bake- an activity that takes up lesser time than cooking an entire meal!)

  2. I’m a bit of an introvert and I’ve found that it’s usually a pleasure to lose myself in the preparation part of dinner while everyone else is bustling about. When we have company over though, I like to be able to engage and socialize so I may cook something that doesn’t require a lot of supervision or I can prepare ahead of time. I don’t hesitate (anymore) to welcome my guests into the kitchen to keep me company or help out if the meal requires much of my attention. They ARE there to see ME, after all. : ) Otherwise, I find myself resentful that I’m the only one “stuck in the kitchen.”

    There are other times that I really want to share that time WITH someone (quality time is my love language). I think creating opportunities to do it different ways is what will help us find balance in the kitchen, so to speak. : )

  3. luckygurl

    Aaaah. My best friend and I tried to live like G.P. last summer and made the Strawberry Shortcake Sliders together (made with Spelt flour! Wha?). There were lots of giggles about how we’re sure this wasn’t “how Gwyneth would do it.” And really, my hopes weren’t that high… But they were amazingly delicious. (My respect for GP rose enormously after that.)

    I think you can learn a lot about a person from how they cook, so cooking with a friend (or potential friend) offers a lot of insight into how they handle pressure, adversity, risk… That being said, the friendship has to be READY for the cooking experience! I cooked with a potential friend a few weeks ago, and her cooking style (bossy, compulsive) definitely resulted in a few steps back for our potential BFFship!

  4. luckygurl

    Also, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I finished your book last week, and I think it changed my life. I’m talking to strangers, calling my friends, and looking for every opportunity to strengthen and expand my friend network. (My husband doesn’t know who I am anymore.) I don’t know if I’ll go as far as speed dating, but I’m hoping I can work up the nerve to ask someone out on a friend date soon! Thank you so much.
    marika

  5. I LOVE to cook… with an audience. You have drinks sit at my bar and I’ll putz around the kitchen in heaven. My favorite cookbook author: Rozanne Gold. Her “cooking 1 2 3″ cookbook is gourmet cooking with only 3 ingredients (and no, there’s no cans of soup anywhere near these recipes). She changed the way I cook and eat!

  6. One of my favorite party-hosting memories was when a bunch of gal pals came over and we made dinner before watching “Pretty in Pink.” It was so hilariously chaotic, with 5 girls trying to do 5 completely separate tasks in the kitchen-a pretty small kitchen. We had a couple girls making a salad, a couple cooking pasta and constantly re-adjusting the temperature, and someone trying to warm the bread to perfection.

  7. I love this post, I can’t wait to buy her cookbook myself, she is such an inspirator!

  8. Jen

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile and just started reading your book –like Marika, I feel like it’s changing how I view friendships and staying in touch, which is my great downfall. I can’t wait to keep reading!

    I love Gwyneth’s cookbook and have made her lemon Parmesan pasta (it has a much fancier name than that) the past two times I’ve had people over. Cooking is my passion and I love being in the kitchen alone! There is something fun, on occasion, about creating a meal for one (I can eat whatever I want, and that’s usually champagne, chips, fruit and cheese!), but I’m usually happiest in the kitchen when I’m making food for others. To me, food cooked and served at home is one of those taking-it-to-the-next-level events in a friendship. It means that I care enough about the people I’ve invited to spend a few hours preparing something delicious (hopefully) that I think they’ll love AND cleaning like mad so they aren’t setting their plates on magazines and cookbooks on the dining room table.

  9. I love good food, and I have no cooking skills. But I always imagined cooking with friends to be something that would be delightful, only because of the time I would hang out with my friends WHILE they were cooking. I would try and help somehow (usually given the task one would give to an elementary school student) while the rest would do the hard stuff.

    But it was fun, we would chat, drink, listen to music and talked about nothing. If only helping with family dinners were the same instead of the subtle food chain of a family kitchen (as in Amanda, go wash dishes because you only peeled potatoes while we drink mimosas and laugh). But hey, one day when I am older I can join in on that too.

  10. It’s always a heck of a lot more fun cooking something big and different for a group of friends. You all get to participate in the “big-ness” of it all, even if you’re not the one doing the cooking.

    Also, you gotta love it when your friends commend your cooking!

  11. Never have read a cookbook, I cook on the grill, and the stove top. I enjoy it, and do get a kick out of preparing tidbits for my friends. But I do enjoy the standing around the grill, preparing the feast, and bsing as I do. Your post was fun, and it encourages me to be more inventive as I cook on my trusty grill. Thanks, Bill

  12. -

    well, as luck would have it, i won an award that allows me to bestow said award on 15 blogs i feel are worthy of the “lovely blog” award, and you are one of them! you are most definitely lovely!

    http://witnotleisure.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/awe-shucks/

  13. Just got your book yesterday and I am loving it. Everything about making friends as an adult (you said) is so true. In Seattle for those of us not from here, we call it the “Seattle Chill” (kept out in the cold from those cliques that already exist). We have a few new friends since moving here 9 years ago, but most were from work-related relationships turned friendships. Only 1 (couple) is from a random auction event where we exchanged the usual “let’s meet up again” and actually both did it. So I’m inspired by your book to try to make more friends (my BFFs are back in the cities I moved from 9 years ago), but I am also frustrated by the Seattle Chill. Recently I did have dinner with someone I met in my Zumba class and have tried to keep up with her. She might be Friend 2 not related to work. It’s challenging, but I believe in the healthy power of friendships.
    About cooking- I LOVE cooking with and for friends, though I have not tried the GP recipes yet. So many recipes I have (or know as my childhood favorites) make more food than my husband and I can or want to eat in leftovers. And if you “half” the recipe you’re just left throwing out ingredients, so that’s no good. So we have worked friendships and cooking together- inviting friends for dinner during the recession really helped us stay connected and within a budget. We all had to eat, right?! So, some brought salad or wine or dessert, and we planned the evening around the food and conversation. Now it’s sort of a tradition- as our closest friends have had kids and can’t go out as much (or even come to our house), we will take homemade dinner to theirs.

  14. tunie

    I used to love cooking dinner everynight with my college roomate until one night, she got very serious and explained that if I didn’t mind, she really NNNeeded the time preparing dinner to unwind from her day and would I mind if she just made dinner for us both, by herself? She very much wanted me to sit at the counter and talk with her while she prepared it all, but needed to be doing it all herself. I enjoyed cooking too, but I was like – twist my arm! There’s nothing I love more than someone preparing dinner for me while we talk about our day! Was really really hard for her to work up the courage to ask me for what she needed for fear of hurting my feelings – made us both laugh afterwards.

    BTW, our fav. recipe was angel hair pasta tossed with an entire head of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, a serious cup of micro-planed parmesan each, a squirt of lemon, freshly ground sea salt and pepper and a tiny splash of good olive oil. SOOO good. We ate it at least 2 x a week since it was cheap and delicious.

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