By no means am I a gourmet cook. But, I drool over almost every recipe that my friend Kate of A Spoonful of Thyme posts.
I’m more a regular-mom-type cook. I often plan a menu around a particular entreé or ingredient. But occasionally, I take inventory of the pantry and fridge and come up with dinner. It becomes a challenge when we are about to leave on a trip and want to use up whatever is on hand. That's when we have interesting meals, like scrambled egg-and-veggie stir fry with corn tortillas. Judy calls it “making something from nothing.”
I love to get creative and concoct flavorful soups. There’s something meditative about chopping, dumping, stirring, tasting, and adding a little of this and that to the soup pot. Simmer on low for a couple hours, and something unique and delicious results. Unique means the dish can never be duplicated exactly. Sure, I can write down what I did this time, but a difference of heavy or light-handedness and the impulse to add or try a new spice will change the flavors a bit. But, that doesn’t matter since enough time has usually passed that only a faint memory of the earlier batch’s taste lingers.
The flavors in soup meld together with a little time and are usually best the 2nd day. So, I will often make it ahead for maximum deliciousness. When I don’t have the luxury of time, and serve up the newly-made soup that day, it’s a compliment to hear, “Pretty good for first-day soup.”
Yes, I follow recipes, too -- at least the first time I try a new dish. Then I analyze it and may make adjustments. For example, I’m experimenting with substituting gluten-free flours and cutting down on sugars. I may use egg beaters or try to lighten up a dish by switching to reduced-fat cheese.
In my cookbooks and recipe file, I have dates with modifications and notes scratched in the margins: “Added 7oz. green chilies” and “Made w/breakfast chicken sausage”. It’s interesting to see the evolution of a dish. I also note the family’s reaction: 5/13 “Best one yet!”
Cooking is a fulfilling and creative outlet for me that also brings pleasure to others. It’s an accomplishment, especially for a woman who started married life as a teenager with two dishes in her repertoire: chocolate chip cookies and scrambled eggs.
What favorite dish, either yours or your family's, do you make?
~ xoA ~