I love to eat. Because of this, I love to cook.
Cooking is more than throwing ingredients together, following a recipe and bringing food to the table. It is an art that requires love.
What love brings to cooking is patience, observation, knowledge both of mind and tongue, creativity, and spontaneity. Born of this is expression. Love inspires good cooking, it inspires fearlessness and that opens up the world on the plate.
I have been asked lately what my favorite cookbook was and I said "the refrigerator, whatever is in there." I don't remember when I forsake recipes. Now, I cook only from heart and once a month by recipe. I try to memorize the bones of recipes so I can apply the essence of it later on without the burden of a recipe. Part of this is necessity, it is faster to cook without a recipe. I spend less time planning and more time eating. I like efficiency - fridge to mouth. But I also I like the moments of reflection before I cook, I rummage through bins, explore the pantry, plan a meal, gage timing, contemplate its tastes and flavor combinations. Cooking is 30 minute compression project management. Simultaneously, while I chop sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts it is meditation and reflection. It keeps my mind relaxed and alert.
And I've learned to observe food and what it needs to blossom in the cooking process. Some foods like a fresh papaya don't need much other than to be sliced and placed on just about anything. Other foods, like Brussels sprouts, need to be seared to open the flavor then steamed to settle or roasted in fat and light kiss of salt. Roast any squash, butternut and acorn are favorites, and blend it with coconut oil and sea salt to accompany any meat. Tomatoes aren't worth eating unless they are in season and local. Beats steamed, some chopped apples and avocado with cilantro, olive oil and lemon make a nice salad. Kale needs a generous saute in fat and salt and pepper to become a base for all kinds of sauteed add ins: sun dried tomatoes, sun chokes, hearts of palms or carrots. When food is observed, it will tell you what it needs to please you.
Some ways to learn to observe food:
- Eat great food. Eat at many different places from many different people. Explore the way others cook. Let your taste explore the food. Be inspired.
- Read about food. Learn about nutrition, food is medicine, read recipes and look for the next interesting flavor combination on a blog or pinterest.
- Eat fresh, local, whole, organic, clean food. It opens up the taste buds when they are uncluttered from processed, sugar heavy, semi-food.
Observing food brings inspiration to the next dish. Suddenly, the refrigerator is the next recipe and this makes sense.
Dinner tonight: smashed carrots with avocado oil; Blugh's BBQ pork chop; sauteed kale, garlic and artichokes in sun dried tomato pesto; roasted thyme and oregano portabello mushrooms.