Hi loves! I miss you.
I have not been posting here recently because I have hardly used a recipe in months. I have hardly used a recipe and I think I am finally learning how to cook. I have been inspired by my various roommates over the last year who have come home many nights and whipped up a meal for one with whatever's in the fridge. By contrast, the contents of the fridge would stare out at me blankly and I felt overwhelmed and left them be, preferring a couple of slices of bread from the freezer toasted.
My roommates were the inspiration, but a particular book has been the tool that helped me overcome my reliance on recipes and the belief that everything worth making takes at least one hour. The book is called An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. It's prose but not one of those cooking memoirs, it's very much about how to cook.
She writes, for example:
"If we were taught to cook as we are taught to walk, encouraged first to feel for pebbles with our toes, then to wobble forward and fall, then had our hands firmly tugged on so we would try again, we woul learn that being good at it relies on something deeply rooted, akin to walking, to get good at which we need only guidance, sense, and a little faith."
The book is about taking small experimental steps in cooking and learning from each one. She has basically a whole chapter on boiling water. She has another chapter on anchovies. She starts by talking about how to find good anchovies and then provides some areas for exploration. Try them fresh, packed in oil, packed in salt. Try them plain. Learn their flavour. Then mash them with plenty of garlic, olive oil and butter and try this sauce on a variety of boring kitchen standards: boiled potatoes, wedges of raw cabbage, soft-boiled egg, lightly boiled celery, or endive. Experience their flavour in combination with other simple flavours. I think through this constant experimentation you develop instincts about cooking that allow for greater complexity down the line.
I tend to only peruse the book while standing in the kitchen waiting for my oatmeal to finish so I haven't read it all, but the overwhelming message appears to be to taste everything you do, at each stage. I'm getting pretty good at this. And I have never enjoyed cooking like I do now.
Kisses to all...