Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Are You Happy in Your Kitchen?

My friend Myra, a graduate of New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition, has launched her own nutritional consulting business, and I signed on as a client last spring thinking I’d get good nutritional tips (that I could then pass on to you), as well as some help with my anemia. Little did I know that psychotherapy would come gratis as part of the package!

Myra believes that most people won’t cook healthy meals at home if they feel they can’t prepare them quickly. The need for speed in our lives is what often drives us to eat frozen, prepared foods or carry-out meals from restaurants (all of which tend to be high in sodium and fat).

I sometimes come home with the children in the late afternoon having no idea what’s on my menu for dinner. Just not a clue. I’ve tried different ways of getting organized and stocking my whole foods pantry, but I’m often tempted to grab California roll from sushi bars on my way home because the idea of facing my kitchen some nights is almost unbearable.


Myra seemed to quickly comprehend the lay of the land chez moi. And for several hours, she held her tongue and just worked with me to see that it made no sense to have my spices where I couldn’t see them, bowls where I couldn’t reach them, and pans stored in the stove. My knives were housed in a long narrow drawer, which made grabbing one a dangerous proposition. My counters were clean, but cluttered with appliances. Sound familiar? And son of a gun! It had become so difficult to find utensils that I’d gone out and purchased more, so during Myra’s visit, I found four spatulas, two can openers, and two melon ballers! We found a box in the basement and threw in all the utensils I didn’t need in duplicate. We also decanted a lot of beans and grains from their food co-op bags, and put them in stackable containers like these.


Before Myra departed, she turned to me and said with great warmth and intelligence: “As for homework, I’d like you to think a little bit about why you let your kitchen get this way, and why you chose…” she paused to put some black-eyed peas into my pantry, “to disown your power in this manner.”

Phew! Chattering thoughts rushed in as I sat in the silence of my better-organized kitchen to reflect. My own mother was a glamorous chef and gourmet goddess, the pride of our suburban neighborhood, always whipping up something exotic, over-the-top, and delicious. Could it be that four years after her death (as a result of a major stroke she had as she happened to be tenderizing flank steak in her state-of-the-art kitchen), I still think Mom’s in charge of meals? Could it be that I am reluctant to compete with her?


So dear readers, send me descriptions of your kitchen and your relation to it–what’s working for you there, and what’s not–and tell us all how your kitchen influences the food you prepare. If it’s a chore to prepare meals, as it was for me pre-Myra, we can talk more. Men chime in, please. I know many families have more kitchen-duty equity than we Chatterings currently savor, so I’d love to hear about how, if you’re coupled, you blend your organizational and cooking styles in one space.

Here’s the thing: If you are unhappy with your kitchen, you shouldn’t resign yourself to remaining unhappy. Think more about cooking efficiency and see how many extra minutes it’s taking you to cook when you can’t quickly access your equipment. Remember food is spiritual, food is love; it won’t taste as good if it comes out of a setting that constantly frustrates. Also, from Feng Shui, you’ll learn that the kitchen can manifest financial wellbeing. So what pleasure you take in the preparation of your meals is paramount.

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posted November 10, 2006 at 4:20 am

What a fun post Amy! After living 6 decades, having a breast cancer experience and knowing and learning why the blood type diet is one of the essential parts of my wellness regimen, cooking became easier and more joyful. I know what foods and spices are beneficial health wise and which are not. That makes the shopping routine a snap. So I switch around these beneficial foods and add garlic, olive oil and ‘tons’ of the beneficial spices(about 10) and I’m good to go. Sometimes I think that my meals are spices for the entree and the rest is the side dish. I usually stove cook on a low flame and tend to cut up and mix whichever veggies I have on top of garlic and spices and then add my protein choice. I’ve narrowed the utensil and pan thing down so its easy to cook. Hey, at this point my health/fitness is more important than it has ever been. I don’t feel like growing old without quality so I worry less about how many wrinkles I have(well its easy as I don’t have many)or how gray my hair is and more about how strong and energetic I feel.

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posted November 10, 2006 at 4:21 pm

I am a young woman who never learned how to cook. My mom did not know how to cook, so she rarley made meals, and when she did, it was the same awful meal week to week. I remember many nights fending for myself with bowls of cereal. I didn’t even know I liked vegetables until college. I am not making this up. Now I hate to cook. I try and try to see joy in the experience but it only leaves me feeling frustrated. I don’t know how many spices to add, or how long to cook, and I know people say to experiment, but my experimenting ruins the meal. Following recipes is such a pain because you have to bring list after list to the grocery store to get every ingredient. As you can see I really struggle with cooking. But I know I will have kids one day, and I want them to have wonderful, lovingly created meals with their health in mind. This is an issue I always struggle with. Any helpful suggestions to bring fun into my cooking.

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posted November 10, 2006 at 8:51 pm

Jenny, email me at and I will be glad to help in making the kitchen and cooking a warmer experience for you. Myrna

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Myra Klockenbrink

posted November 10, 2006 at 9:29 pm

Hi Jenny, What I might suggest to make cooking more fun is to first think of your most favorite food: potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, brussel sprouts – whatever it is – and learn to make that. Keep it really simple. If that favorite food is, say, brussel sprouts, steam them in a little salted water and serve them with butter on top. Keep your recipe to a few (3-4) ingredients. Buy the freshest food you can find. Learn where it comes from, how it’s grown, what conditions it likes. You may discover you like those things too. If you’re stumped on how to proceed, write us back and name your favorite food and we’ll help you out. Or contact me directly at

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posted November 11, 2006 at 1:04 am

I am so thankful for Beliefnet and Glow in particular. One trick that seems to help me is to fake myself out and get somthing out of the freezer in the morning. Then when it is time to prepare dinner I have a start. Also I cook when I have the energy. For me the morning is good so I do anything I can early cause by 4:30-5:00 I hit the wall a bit. Also I find if I wash and tear a head of lettuce (I soak the entire thing in a full sink of water which hydrates it too)and a few shreads of cabbage too then store it in a ziplock bag with a paper towel then it’s ready with just a slice of tomatoe and whatever else I have that can go onto it. Hope that this helps Love M

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posted November 11, 2006 at 8:06 pm

Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions. I guess the key is to start small, and to also cook what I love. It seems easy enough, but it really is a trial for me. Myrna, I will save your e-mail and possibly contact you when I am ready to make a commitment to change. I want to be fair and honest about my dread of cooking. Thanks Again

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posted November 14, 2006 at 3:43 pm

Dear Amy, Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I look forward to reading your adventures everyday. I happened to notice that you mentioned that you have anemia. Here is a great recipe for its cure: take a steak of liver, cut in pieces and place in a jar with some cabbage, carrots, onion, a dash of salt, some garlic and some olive oil. Place it (opened) in a pan with water and put it to boil for about 45 min. or more at medium heat, careful to add more water when needed. Let it rest a little, strain and pour the broth in a lovely china cup and enjoy the exquisite and healing bouillon! Repeat every week and watch the hemoglobin soar!

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barbara Ensor

posted August 4, 2007 at 9:24 pm

Hey AMY! HOW nice to come across you. I am looking forward to a good browse. I am doing a quick article (hoping it will be) for the famous LINEWAITERS GAZETTE (they’d better patent that name because it is so darn clever) about none other than Myra K. SO googling her I found your smiling face. Cheers and best to your brood

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