Ever wonder why some people float through life on a sweet cotton candy cloud and others seem to have their feet stuck in molasses? I’m sure you have the one friend who is always sick, forever upset, and constantly gossiping. Everything that happens to this person is THE WORST and they just can’t believe it has happened to them, again. The world is obviously out to get them. That person is probably a terrible cook.
Much like life cooking reflects your attitude. You get from it what you put in it. You cannot nourish your body or someone else’s with spite and anger. The energy is reflected in the final product. That’s why even if you are not that Debbie downer I described earlier when you do have a terrible, no good, very bad day it’s ten times more likely you will burn something, over salt, or even worse under season to create food that is as blah as you feel.
Lucky for you I have a solution. It’s a little game I like to play called something from nothing. Basically you take random ingredients and try to figure out a way that they can tantalize your taste buds. I like to challenge myself to this game when I am feeling particularly uninspired. Cooking three days in a row for two different clients can sometimes get a bit mundane. Especially cooking for kids who are needless to say not the most adventurous eaters. But it is on those days when I actually surprise myself.
I normally just roast it with olive oil and salt in a 400-degree oven.
But it was screaming to become something spectacular. Yes, vegetables talk to me and if you listen they will talk to you too. So I moseyed around the kitchen to see what else wanted to be taken out to play. I found carrots, cilantro, and sumac.
At first I was going to just cut the carrots into round circles, but that wasn’t fanciful enough for today. Carrot ribbons are whimsical and dainty. I thought the bright orange strips would look awesome next to the bunches of cauliflower. So I used my vegetable peeler to create the long wide strips. Cilantro added great color but also a unique fresh flavor. So I chopped that up and tossed it in the bowl. It’s at this point I feel less like a chef and more like an artist, finding the exact colors and textures to me out of the kitchen and into a daydream.
The purple flakes of sumac took me to the Mediterranean. As I drizzled olive oil and lemon juice over the bowl I felt the warmth of the sun and saw the depths of crystal clear water. I imagined my clients being very pleased and this awoke a whole new excitement inside of me. I paused for a moment to examine my masterpiece from a distance. The roasted soft cauliflower, spiraled carrots, zesty cilantro, perfectly balanced acidity and salt…but something was missing, the picture wasn’t complete. It needed a crunch; the coarseness of the sand, to finish up my beach scene. I found some cashews and added them in. As I tossed it all together a certain warmth of creation came over me. Running on fumes I had found a light and carried it into this bowl. Upon first taste my vision of the Mediterranean returned and spark reignited.
Creation is the fuel of life. Do not be afraid to take a chance in this glorious process. Sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you fail. As I did miserably with a kale banana smoothie I made a few days ago which my client described as “pukey”. Fortunately for you if you are reading this blog you most likely have the resources to try over and over again. You don’t have to be a chef to daydream as an artist in the kitchen. Everyone can make something from nothing. Below are a few tips on how to become an artist of your own in the kitchen.
How to Make Something from
Nose knows! Use all your senses when gathering items.
Open your mind, daydream.
Taste everything! Every time you add a new ingredient!
Harmonize flavors and textures. Sweet with spicy, soft and crunchy.
Imagine making yourself and others happy through your creation.
Notice how you each ingredient stands on its own before adding it in.
Glance online or in magazines for inspiration.