Ah, dishes.... A good portion of the time spent in any kitchen is taken up by this daily chore, but I've never seen a food blog or cookbook even mention it. We like to focus on the food we're cooking and pretend that the menial task of cleaning up after ourselves is beneath us. Not so!

I don't have a dishwasher. I never have. Neither can I afford to hire someone to do my dishes. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I cook a lot. I make most things from scratch, and I seem to have a real knack for creating piles and piles of dirty dishes. While I can't pretend that I'm never frustrated by them, or that I always do them in a timely manner, I have learned to appreciate them. Here's why:
  • Just like any other mindless routine, dish doing can be turned into a meditation. I like to let my mind go blank as I repetitively wash dish after dish. I find it quite relaxing, plus there's something almost spiritually satisfying about turning a big pile of chaotic, dirty dishes into a neatly stacked batch of clean ones.

  • Doing the dishes warms me up in the winter. My body tends to run colder than most. When I get a chill, sometimes the nicest thing is to wash some dishes with really hot water. Not only do my hands warm up, but standing over the sink with steam billowing up at me warms my whole body. Plus, I'm doing something that needs to be done anyway, instead of wasting resources by turning up the heat or taking a hot shower.

  • Dishes keep me humble. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I'm a great chef who gets to do nothing but create dishes for someone lesser than myself to do, but that illusion comes crashing down when I turn around and realize that there's no one but myself to tackle the big pile of dishes I've just created. For the same reason that I believe everyone should clean their own toilet instead of paying someone else to do it for them, I think we should all do our own dishes so that we are forced to think about the consequences of what we do and take responsibility for them.

  • Dishes add another dimension to the skill of cookery. It's easy to cook- almost anyone can at least follow a recipe. Not everyone can cook a delicious, complicated meal and do dishes as she goes so she doesn't end up with a giant pile of dishes after the meal is cooked. When I'm in the kitchen, I'm always strategizing and planning tasks with time in between to keep the dish situation under control. It's fun, it makes my life easier, and it gives me a sense of great satisfaction to know I can successfully cook and clean up after myself at the same time.
I could go on, but you get the point. Now go do your dishes!
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