Midway though I realized I was getting some kind of sick joy out of this task, fulfilling both the physical and spiritual needs that are usually filled in the mornings at yoga, an activity I was missing from lack of the sitter. We laughed, we sweated, and we also had moments of focus, quiet and peace, almost like a meditation. I thought about holidays where a copper bowl of whipping cream went around the table, each person taking a few minutes with the whisk until we had whipped cream for our pie, and how once the stand mixer did the job, that was one less thing to do together as a family. Elbow grease. Sure, the stove-cleaning project took longer than it would have with chemicals, and it's probably less clean. In this era of instant Google-gratification and the ability to create things that are near-perfect (I'm thinking of everything from plastic surgery to iPhone photo apps) taking a while to complete a task, and being able to settle for it being less than "best" is actually a luxury. By scrubbing our ovens and kneading our bread and whipping our cream by hand we can teach ourselves some important lessons. This year I'm going to pay extra attention to what I do by hand, and how by doing it I can spend more time with someone (including myself), how I break more of a sweat, how I give myself a few extra minutes to zone out and breathe. Elbow grease will be the hot new ingredient in my kitchen.
Some inspiration from our archives on ways to add some elbow grease to your kitchen: • The How's and Why's of Whisking By Hand • Stand Mixer vs. Arm Muscle: Do You Mix by Hand? • The Key To Creaming Butter By Hand • 6 Ways to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine • Tips and Recipes for Making Tortillas By Hand(Images: Shutterstock/PRILL, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, and Witigonen via Flickr Creative Commons))