This is not a cooking blog. You may have noticed the distinct lack of recipes and cooking tips. I try to focus on discussing things that I discover in pursuit of the most joyful life possible, and there are lots of great places to find cooking tips.
This is true, but cooking can also be a part of the joyful life. It’s good to be able to make things as you want them to be, tailored to your own whims. It’s healthier, and less expensive, and both of those benefits lead to greater happiness. I find I am more cheerful when I do a lot of cooking (and I don’t mean sweets–that way lies madness for myself and perhaps some of you).
As I cook, I experiment, and this is my theme today–experimentation. We grow up being told what to do. We learn from friends and we learn from books, but we can also learn from ourselves. I tend to think of something that might be tasty and just go for it. I’ve definitely made some things that I wouldn’t want to foist on guests, but I make more predictable meals when expecting company. I’ve also stumbled upon these fun recipes, which are inexpensive and which I make all the time:
- Easy Indian mock-paneer: I love paneer and peas which comes in a rich spicy red sauce. Paneer is cheese, and I can’t eat that anymore, so now I throw in cubes of tofu. All you have to do is take inexpensive bottled spaghetti sauce and keep throwing in curry powder until it tastes good to you. Add peas and tofu and you are set to serve over rice. Fantastic!
- Smoky rice & mushrooms: I have a rice cooker, so one day I threw in pieces of dried shiitake mushrooms with the rice and water (I added a little extra water) and a couple of lapsang souchong tea bags on top. This is awesome by itself, but can become an ingredient in another recipe, too. Mandarin Orange Spice teabags give the rice a good taste for pilaf. Yummy!
- Savory oatmeal: I eat a lot of hot cereal, but I gave up sugar a few years ago so I wanted some breakfast ideas that didn’t contain honey or sweetness. I realized that you can flavor oatmeal in many savory ways. Sometimes I make it with broth and mushrooms, sometimes I season it like stuffing, sometimes I put in garlic and peas. I keep trying new things–my next favorite is waiting to be created. So good!
You may rush to try these, or they may sound horrible to you. That is not the point. I created these as a thrifty cook who wants to try new things, and I made things that taste good to me. Your recipes may contain chicken and pickles. Cook what appeals, but I encourage you to experiment, in cooking and in life. Your mom probably said it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true–if you don’t try new things, how will you know what you like? You may be pleasantly surprised. I know I have been. Just don’t blow up the kitchen–it wakes the neighbors.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
270. This week do a little experimenting inside the kitchen or in some other way. What would you do again? What will you never repeat? How does the process of creation feel to you?