When I started making this style of casserole bakers in January, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me personally.
Of course, everything I create comes from a personal place, a spark that seeks out its strike of lightening for fulfilling a need or desire; a vision. This need stemmed from finding ways to entice myself to cook and combat, at least partially, my growing severity with osteoporosis.
While that enticement did happen, something else happened on a deeper level. As much as I have taught ceramics on the college level and pottery classes to students of all ages children through older adults, I don’t remember feeling the tug at my soul as I do with these pieces.
One of my favorite assignments/prompts to give my college students is called “Clay Solves A Problem.” Each student is asked to think about a challenge they have in their everyday life that they could address with clay.
So, I had a problem and looked to clay to fix it. I needed to figure out this whole food approach to combating this disease and I knew how much time it takes to learn about a targeted nutrition approach.
Finding time to devote to something new is hard enough, but making the time to do something that you genuinely do not like to do is pretty much a non-starter. But, I love what I do for a living and I thought that combining my business and personal endeavors on a grander scale would benefit both aspects of my daily lives.
While it did do that, it also solved a deeper problem.
Since I was young, I have had food issues. Growing up in a Sicilian family, food takes a primary role in most everything; daily meals, Sunday dinners, small and big celebrations, etc. Cooking is done for days and eating takes twenty minutes, thirty tops.
Back then there were those that lingered at the table talking; mainly the men while the women shuffled about clearing the dishes and starting the kitchen clean-up. Cook for days, eat for minutes, clean for hours. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Then top it off with the comments about gaining weight right before having more food shoved in your face. “Mangia. Mangia. Mangia.” Then more comments about weight.
So, food issues… for decades.
I often joke that when we were first married I burned everything so that no one would ask me to cook. My father-in-law called me out one time after I cooked a delicious meal and remarked how I actually knew how to cook, it just had to be an interesting meal instead of the daily kind. Oh so true. I enjoyed the art of cooking, just not the necessity of cooking.
What I found with making these casserole bakers is that I could combine both the art of cooking and the necessity of cooking; and enjoy it. Not simply enjoy it, but actually, embrace it.
Cooking in this casserole baker makes me feel like I am creating a layer of art on top of a well designed substrate. I’m no longer the artist in the studio, but the artist in the kitchen composing a piece that looks fabulous for photos (the business marketing aspect), tastes fabulous for my family, and feeds my nutrition requirements for dealing with osteoporosis.
It began as a two birds one stone (I really do not like that analogy!) kind of thing, but became this therapy for my food issues that I am working through.
I’ve put on weight since my issues with my arachnoid cyst in my brain began because of eating to combat the headaches. Continued gaining with the steroid treatment after my craniotomy, and now eat to intake all the nutrition recommended to slow down bone loss and increase bone building. I have limited mobility because of compression fractures and pain so exercise is nil. Oh, and I am a sugar addict.
So to say that these casserole bakers — big and small have been life changing is an understatement.
We use the large size to bake family meals and the small size to bake side dishes. We use the large size for “dump and bake” all in one recipes that are intended to have leftovers, but are so good there aren’t any. I use the small one for my own vegan concoctions that hold a wealth of nutrients in controlled serving sizes. And, I use fresh wholesome ingredients to combat more weight gain.
I use both sizes on a regular basis because they are the magic vessels that create nutritional beauty for my mind, body and soul.
And yes, they make cooking for my family artsy fun as well. 💜
Please check out The Artsy Chef Casserole Collection at RachelleEason.com on April 8, 2022, unless you are a newsletter subscriber then you have day early access!