Turn Off The TV And Turn On The Oven For Better Relationships

A personal story of using actual talking and cooking to deepen my friendships and my marriage (plus a recipe).

Photo Credit: picjumbo

I gave up TV about six years ago. I didn’t just “cut the cord”; I gave up an actual TV. This mostly was a result of moving across the country to San Francisco and not having enough money after rent to afford a television or cable. I wasn’t completely devoid of entertainment. I’d watch movies on my laptop and listen to local NPR and podcasts. However, I soon found my life was enriched by the act of not watching television. I read more, I got better rest and most importantly, when I had guests over, we actually talked!

That is one thing I quickly became irked by when I was a guest at someone’s home. It seemed that the standard comfort zone was to turn on the television as some sort of ambient noise. I found myself in situations where I would be sitting on a friend or family member’s couch, with everyone watching the TV and no conversation happening. I thought, “How can we possibly grow our relationship if we aren’t talking to each other?” I decided then that no matter how much money I had leftover after rent, I would not invest it in TV.

It seems our society has chosen distraction and isolation as a way to relieve their stress rather than reaching out to the people closest to them. I’ve heard co-workers say, “If my partner has had a tough day at work, he won’t talk to me for about an hour when he gets home. He needs his alone time with the TV”. This not only is a poor way of dealing with stress, but it’s also putting a strain on the relationship. According to a recent Netflix report, subscribers are watching an entire season of a show in under a week, consuming two hours of the show a day. Enter cooking together.

Photo Credit: picjumbo

When I met my husband about three years ago, I was very pleased to know that he too did not have cable. He had a television, but we rarely turned it on. We both have the same belief in quality conversation as a way to grow relationships of all kinds. I’m quite sure it’s why we have such a strong marriage today. One of our favorite things to do together is to cook a complicated recipe. Instead of cable and TV, we’ve instead invested our money in food processors, cast-iron skillets, slow cookers, fancy stemware, and cookbooks. We’ve mastered a few recipes and botched many more, but we have a lot of fun while we are doing it. We open a bottle of wine, talk about our days and then sit down and enjoy a delicious, homemade meal afterwards.

If you aren’t convinced that turning the TV off and turning the oven on will improve your relationships, try out this simple recipe and see how it goes! This recipe is a great starter to chopping. It’s a hearty salad that is good enough for dinner. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Prosciutto and Pecorino (serves 3–4)

INGREDIENTS:

For dressing:

2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs dijon mustard

1 tsp shallot, finely minced

2 small garlic cloves, finely minced

1/8 tsp kosher salt

Pinch of black pepper (and then some, because it’s so good!)

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil (I usually add a bit more if the kale is bitter)

For salad:

1 bunch thinly sliced kale

1 lb brussels sprouts, finely shredded using a mandolin or sharp knife

3–4 slices prosciutto, lightly fried and chopped

1/4 c raw almond slivers

1/2 c Pecorino cheese, finely grated

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Add in olive oil, whisking until combined.

Mix sliced kale and shaved brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Throw in prosciutto, almonds, and cheese. Pour dressing over the top and toss salad until all ingredients are distributed throughout.