Sometimes, cooking can be fun. Sometimes, it’s not that fun, like when you’re on your feet mixing ingredients and standing over a hot stove and you’re hungry and you have guests coming and just want your food to be done and your dishes to be clean already. In this type of situation, having a little music can improve your mood (and your food! Stuff tends to come out better when you’re not stressed and juggling eight different dishes at once) drastically. I tend to go for things that are upbeat enough to keep me moving without being too danceable, because otherwise I’ll just get distracted. So basically, cheerful but not forcibly so. Here’s a selection of what I keep on my cooking and baking playlist:
For late-night baking, when you’re alone in the kitchen and want to stay awake: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
I like to bake at night. It’s calming, the kitchen is cooler and emptier, and I get to reward myself with a cookie or something before bed. For whatever reason, when I’m mixing batter and greasing pans and trying to shush the oven timer when it goes off at 1:14 AM, blues/funk just really fits. Try it. You’ll see. It’s happier than pop and rap but keeps you awake better than indie. Totally perfect.
For when you’re cooking for company and want to relax: Sara Watkins
Everything about Sara Watkins’ folk music is beautiful — the vocals, the lyrics, the fiddling. I downloaded her album last week and have been listening to it nonstop. It’s also very soothing for reading or writing papers.
For when you’re cooking after work and are tired, hungry, and just trying not to strangle anyone: The Weepies
We all know that feeling. When all you want to do is reheat some leftover Easy Mac and call it a night, but you make yourself wait an extra 15 minutes so you can cook something with actual nutritional content (actually, if you’re reading this blog you’re probably in college, which means you probably don’t know this feeling. Lucky you. Easy Mac is the best). On the other hand, you feel absolutely murderous while you’re cooking. It’s a very rare band that can actually cheer you up with peppy music rather than expedite your descent into murderous rage, but that rare band is absolutely The Weepies. I mean, look at that music video. There’s a quirky indie couple in it. And spontaneous art. And pretty colors. Aren’t you feeling more cheerful, already?
For when you’re cooking with your brother or dad or other menfolk and want to make cupcake-baking seem super macho: The Black Keys
Ok, so putting on some rock won’t really fool anyone into thinking that fondant is rugged or whatever, but come on. It’s 2011. There are guys in the kitchen, and the pure, irrefutable awesomeness of The Black Keys decimates socially constructed gender roles with their wailing guitar riffs and growly-whine vocals. (Putting aside my absolute mangling of gender theory, The Black Keys are also just a really great jam band, whether you’re cooking with boys or girls or cats or no one)
For when you’re making breakfast and want to pump yourself up for the day and the delicious omelet or blueberry pancakes you’re about to devour: Coconut Records
Coconut Records is a great band to wake up to because they remain equally enjoyable as your caffeine intake increases. Just woke up and feel like a bedhead monster? Kind of groggy and just puttering around the kitchen, trying to remind yourself where the flour went? Super buzzed and ready to get fed and start your day? Coconut Records’ strain of islandy indie pop is perfect for all of these mindsets.
For when you’re cleaning up and doing dishes, and just want to let your mind wander: This American Life Podcast
This was probably a no-brainer for some of you, but “This American Life” is the perfect background accompaniment to repetitive household chores. Entertaining and informative, it’s the kind of journalism that makes you think without hurting your brain, and the stories will stick with you for weeks. Download the podcast here.
Do you guys have any preferred music or podcasts for specific cooking, baking, or cleaning scenarios? Do you vehemently agree or disagree with any of these pairings? Or do you think the kitchen is a sacred space where no music should be played and dancing should be outlawed in Bomont?