Laura Zoeller is a farm wife and mother who has been blessed with a wonderful – and funny - life.

I frequently go through phases where cooking and baking are concerned. Sometimes, I do so much of it that we can’t eat it all. During these times, I am grateful that we have neighbors who enjoy the excesses. At least, they have never said otherwise.

I’m also grateful for the times we have had chickens and pigs who eat what we and the neighbors cannot. They have definitely never complained about my skills.

Recently, I have been in an off phase. While I still make a hearty breakfast almost every morning, I rarely feel like cooking dinner, and the closest thing to baking I had done in a few weeks was to mix up a couple batches of crispy rice bars. Despite the old commercials, there is no flour and no oven involved in those tasty little buggers.

However, somewhat suddenly this weekend, I felt the desire to cook. It began with a few simple grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Then, it bubbled over into the afternoon. (Did you catch that melty cheese reference, there?)

I peeled apples and made a sweet dough to wrap them in. I mixed brown sugar and butter and water together and poured it over the apples. Thirty minutes in the oven and I had a big pan of apple dumplings to share with our friends at dinner. Their addition of caramel pecan ice cream made for a delicious dessert.

Even after enjoying that meal with friends, the desire to cook lingered. I pulled out the food processor and thinly sliced a half dozen potatoes. I layered them, shreds of baked ham, and slices of swiss cheese in a baking dish. Then I whipped some flour, milk and steak seasoning together and poured it over the top, baking it for just under an hour.

I managed to convince myself that it was too late in the evening to partake of the steamy potato casserole. I told myself that sometimes food is better on the second day, when all the flavors have had time to meld together. I told myself that eating late would almost certainly result in my not feeling well the next morning, if I avoided the nightmares that often result from it.

(Un)fortunately, I had to be up at 5 the next morning, so I didn’t have to wait particularly long to sample the potatoes. They were as good as I expected them to be. I had to portion them out into containers and put them away immediately. This was done to assist my waistline in the battle against my weakness for carbs.

I noticed that the few dumplings we had returned home with had disappeared overnight, and my happiness that they were enjoyed mingled with a twinge of sadness that they are gone already. I think the disparity in the time it takes to prepare food versus the speed at which it disappears is often the reason I become frustrated with cooking. It is another item on my to-do list that never gets marked completed.

When the desire to cook again fades, I’ll push myself to do it. We have to eat, after all. But I’m going to enjoy it as long as it stays with me.

I guess I can take comfort that, at least while the kids are eating it all, there’s none going to waste.

Sadly, my pigs don’t find the same comfort in that.

Laura Zoeller can be reached at

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