Re-lighting the Pilot

I am not a chef.  I’ve never been to culinary school.  I think I have an untrained nose, and I’d wager some would argue I have an immature palate (I’d disagree). Yet, I love food.

I love making food, reading about food.  I steal menus when I can, to read and re-read the culinary treasures I tasted, and to study and fantasize (and maybe try to recreate) those that I didn’t.   I have more cookbooks than I’ve actually used.  Reading the recipes, how the flavor combinations would materialize,  I’m lost for hours.   My favorite cookbooks are those with simple, basic ingredients in their recipes, bringing new life to a chicken breast, making simple herbs exciting (chicken baked in white wine, butter, and lots of fresh thyme? Some say “boring”, I say “subtle, simple, comforting and good.”).

I have cookbooks with exotic creations inspired by Thailand, France, hippie communes, Michelin-starred chefs and celebrity vegans.  I love them all.

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My mother has a gift I’m envious of.  She can take any combination of leftovers or stray ingredients and create something simple yet amazing.  I, however, tend to stick to what I know and can recreate at the drop of a hat ( beef stew, shepherd’s pie, ratatouille, apple pie, beef wellington).  Hence the cookbooks.   I tend to think that anyone who can read can also cook.


One of my favorite quotes (“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all,” Harriet Van Horne) applies here.  Maybe as long as I’m in a recipe rut, I’ll be annoyingly single (notice I did not write “unhappily single” – I am not unhappy, just annoyed.  Any woman over the age of 35 trying to date understands my plight.  If you’d seen what’s out there, you would too).  So, I’ve decided to branch out, cook something outside of my comfort zone once a week or so (I do have a fairly demanding day job,  you know), and perhaps share the experience, good or bad, here (interspersed with the usual dating gripes/opinions/thoughts/guidance).  

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So, after traveling all week and dealing with a seemingly endless string of bad hotel and airport food, I settled into my kitchen and made an attempt to create something I’ve been fantasizing about .  The experience went better in my mind than in reality.  

It started out quite well – black rice (wild rice, really. I went in search for black jasmine rice, which is magical, but alas, apparently it’s no longer so easy to find , at least here) coconut mik and heavy cream – sounds great, right?

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I’ll spare the details, but the bottom line is, two hours later,  I went from being totally hopeful and confident to horrifyingly disappointed with what I ultimately created:

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I ruined it by adding too much sugar, and not making a proper custard, which is perhaps what I should have done.  I’m left with a sickeningly sweet gloppy mess that I’m really not sure what to do with. 

While this particular venture was unsuccessful in the output, the process was great fun.  I had a glass of wine (ok, two), listened to some great music (I’d love to hear what’s on your cooking playlist!), and really enjoyed playing with my food without real consequence.  That alone made it worth the time. …Perhaps that’s an attitude I should adopt in other areas…

 I do think I’ll try again though, next weekend, with something new (but I might follow a new recipe instead) and maybe I’ll have better luck.   

By then I’m sure to have worked up the courage and optimism to try both cooking and dating again.  😉

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