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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recipes Cramp My Style

"And garnish it with a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of parsley...beautiful."

Some chefs cook with precision. Some cook with love. Some cook with only the best ingredients, while others prefer making something out of nothing. Some cook in minuscule portion, and some barbecue five turkeys for Thanksgiving. Some chefs cook with flair, some with ease, some with hard-won intuition.

Some chefs cook with audacity.

My cooking style is courageous. By necessity, sure (when you can't just "grab a p b & j" ever again, all kind of innovative possibilities open up) (how about peanut butter and jelly... on a corn tortilla?!) but it's also my personality. My reckless, impatient self has had an uphill but ever progressing battle all my life in overcoming my cautious, careful tendencies. Just recently, in my high school years, I've realized that perfection is for boring people-- and (just like in cooking) all kind of possibilities opened up.

As I was contemplating my cooking style, my roomie reminded me of a recent experience with a certain pot of onery taco soup. Upon trial run, I had to pronounce that it tasted "like mud," and sat there looking at the offending dish for a straight 2-seconds.
Then it was off to the cupboard.
I added a couple of the usual ingredients (beans, corn, tomatoes, taco seasoning) and then, when that didn't work, some... others (garlic, onion powder, cheese powder, frozen stir-fry veggies, beef, chicken, rice, and the shimmering contents of a strange, unmarked container waaaay in the back of my cupboard). "Heck, even if it tastes bad, at least it will TASTE," I decided. And you know what, it did (taste, or taste bad? I'll never tell)!

I don't try the same thing twice, because then... how would we learn? No, really, I don't try the same thing twice (and I don't use recipes, they cramp my style!) because that would involve planning ahead. How on Earth am I supposed to know what I'm going to want to eat TOMORROW NIGHT while I'm standing in the grocery store today?

Better to improvise than to organize!

Thus, akin to Disney movies, every meal requires a little imagination. Recipe calls for sour cream? Mayonnaise works just as well (don't stick up your nose until you've tried it). No mayo... AH HA! Let's try yogurt! OK, slighly different consistency... but that's what makes it fun!

I have so many examples... I can't even begin to name them. No potato masher, but Dia wants to make mashed potatoes? Let's try a whisk. Nope. Blender? NOPE. Erm... wooden spoon?

No ____ flour (fill in: teff, quinoa, potato, rice, or pretty much anything else)? Let's try... _____ flour (again fill in your choice of flour type. Or corn starch)!!!

No ice cream? Freeze plain yogurt in an ice-cube tray. Out of sugar? Honey works just as well, or better. No eggs? 2 tablespoons of ground flax boiled in water.

Sure, it doesn't work sometimes (the same roomie asked, "So where do you get your gluten-free recipes?" the other day while I was gnawing on a " personal pizza" --sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella on guess what? A CORN TORTILLA!-- and I had to think, "Stop mocking me. Recipes?? Who in their right mind would advise you to make a pizza on a corn tortilla on PURPOSE?")... but college students get to eat EVERYTHING, whether it works or not (I tell myself as I stare down at my newest try--I think I'm at #8-- at that constantly evading final product, "yogurt").

Besides, if you made the same thing every time, cooking would be like math.
2 + 2 = 4, blah, blah, blah.
Where's the adventure, intrigue, and STYLE in that?

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1 comment:

Leanna said...

I really like your diction. You definitely know how to use words effectively!