leave to rest

I love to cook, it is my sweet spot, the place I feel most comfortable. My senses are tuned into it, I can smell when an onion is starting to turn sweet and translucent. I can hear when the pasta pot has reached a rolling boil. I can guess the amount of herbs, lemon or garlic to add to a marinade.

Yet this familiarity sometimes leads to short-cuts, where I know I can get away with it. Sometimes in the interests of time, or expediency I cut corners. I know I can, sometimes, add the flour in one go, rather than two as the recipe states. I know that I don’t have to wait until the butter is soft to rub it in. I know that I can use the microwave to melt chocolate instead of the double boiler.


But today, I took my time as I cooked, and as I was rubbing soft butter into flour for my muffins, I was struck by the thought of how much easier it is. In recipes there is often the instruction “leave to rest”.  While it seems passive, the rest in these recipes is always doing something. Sometimes the rest is required to make things easier to accomplish. Sometimes it is to let the flavours seep in. Sometimes it is to let the ingredients act on one another to create a lighter product. Sometimes the rest can even change the structure of the initial product.

But in the kitchen when I am in a rush, I sometimes skip these steps. And while the end product isn’t terrible, it isn’t as good as it could be. In these recipes “rest” is a key ingredient.

I read a blog post recently giving 3 tips on rest, and one of them is to put rest on your to-do list. Write it into the recipe of your life if you like. We are not meant to go flat-out all the time. We are meant to have periods of busy and periods of rest. And in the resting we become lighter, we find things become easier to handle and important ideas seep into our soul.

This weekend coming I am going on a silent retreat. An intentional time-out, a time to rest, read, write, and pray. As a person who loves to talk I am nervous as to how I’ll cope, but I am hoping that it will be a productive time for me. I am hoping that following the “leave to rest” instruction in the recipe of my life will yield a better me.


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