First, a little Public Service Announcement: You know how Milky Ways are INSANELY awesome when you throw them in the freezer? Well, frozen PB&J Lara Bars are the health food blogger’s answer to the frozen candy bar. There you go. You’re welcome.
Anyway, I was thinking about how much I love to experiment in the kitchen today as I struggled to think of more spinach recipes (I hate you, Costco.). Naturally, this got me to thinking about how many failures i’ve experienced over the years. Unless you’re baking, cooking, in my book, just isn’t an exact science. I’m like a mad scientist (although decidedly more fashionable than that Bill Nye person) in the kitchen (unless making family recipes that were ingrained in me by age 8).
Now, I don’t profess to be graceful. I set my hair on fire once, bending over to smell a candle as I was getting into a bubble bath. The flame was blue, shot up my hair shaft towards my face, thanks to the products in it (I assume), and left me with a big chunk of singed hair. This look doesn’t sit well with the high school crowd, i’ll tell you that much. That one pyro kid in AP Bio was totally fascinated, but that was about it (I think he’s a fireman now. Go figure.).
This tendency towards the ridiculous has followed me into the kitchen on several occasions. I’ve set three microwaves on fire (Sorry, mom.) and cut my finger almost to the bone cutting an avocado in my palm (Sorry, people who don’t do gore). I’ve made oatmeal raisin cookies sans raisins (Sorry, Erin.) and cakes that would make Martha Stewart fall over and die of disgust (Sorry, Chels and Sues.).
I will say, though, that for all the trauma that has ensued in my kitchen and various kitchens that I have cooked in over the years, there have also been many triumphs- and I’m not just talking about the day I truly realized that wine wine added to pretty much anything makes everything taste better.
It still surprises me when I hear people say, “I can’t cook. I’m just afraid.” Afraid of what? Setting something on fire? That’s what they have fire extinguishers for! Knives? Use a handheld chopper! Producing something disgusting? Well, that’s how you learn! Do you think Evan Lysacek never bruised his butt practicing his triple axels?
Now, I’m not saying you’re going to get a gold medal for cooking. In fact, the closest most of us will ever get is this:
But my point is that sometimes it’s the things that you learn from your past failures that help ensure your future success. I sure as hell never leaned over a candle with loose long hair again!
I’d like to officially recommend THIS book. Every beginner should have this in their arsenal because it covers everything from the bare bones basics like how to properly chop (with pictures!), to obscure ingredients and techniques.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I will say it again. One of the most valuable lessons my Nana taught me (among MANY MANY others), was how to cook. She believed that every young woman should have at least basic cooking knowledge- and it wasn’t because she was old fashioned and wanted me to be able to feed my husband, but because she knew that it was the best way to nourish my body and take care of myself.
When I cook, I know what’s in my food, where it came from and what i’m eating. I’m so very grateful to her for patiently teaching me. Some of my best memories are of the two of us in her kitchen, side-by-side as she kept up a stream of conversation, explaining each step, pausing when I interrupted her to ask a question (usually, “Can I stir?”). There was no better place in the world to be.
On a final note, I’ve talked a little bit about creating in this post. I’m a pretty creative person- whether it’s cooking, mixed media, jewelry design, design, painting, drawing, decoupage…the list goes on and on. What has always truly fascinated me is this notion of “inspiration.” Where does it come from? Is it tangible? and of course…what inspires people? On that note, I’ve decided to launch a new interview series called “People Who Create.” If you’re interested in participating (and you can be a creator of absolutely ANYTHING- writers, artists, crafters, cooks…you name it and i’d love to hear what you have to say), please drop me a line at Colorhungryjenny@yahoo.com.