Saturday, September 15, 2012

Trying New Foods, Making New Memories

Hello all! Long time, no writing. I'm settled in Idaho now and am looking forward to writing more. Thank you to all of the views while I was gone. I have a lot to talk about, so look forward to more blogs in the coming days about things I've thought about or experienced in the past few weeks.

What's the first thing you do when you want to cook something for dinner? Do you look through your cupboard and see what you can make without going to the store? Do you get food inspiration from a cook book or an online recipe guide? Do you narrow down your search for something you have a craving for like pasta, steak or "goes well with that wine I bought earlier"? Do you go by season? Is it a Summer Saturday or a Winter Wednesday? By occasion? Is it a family meal for a holiday or just a day after work?

If you are stuck in a rut about what to make, try another way that I just stated above.

I love experimenting with flavor, texture and different culinary techniques. It's an exciting day when things I just throw together end up being a wonderful meal. With saying that, there have been times where it has gone horribly, HORRIBLY wrong. Take out was then eaten in tears because I really wanted my creation to taste good, and not like flaming cat urine.

Half the fun of cooking is learning about new ingredients and flavors. It's what makes it fun! Every new flavor is something to add to your memory. It's like meeting a new friend. They may end up being a lover or a foe, but you met them and now you know.

In my opinion, if you do not go beyond your boundaries, you may never find that food you've been missing your whole life. For me, that food isn't actually a food, it's an herb. Tarragon and other anise flavors. As a kid, I HATED black licorice a passion. But a few months ago I had some chicken, rice and mushrooms waiting to be cooked when I saw the tarragon. I tasted a leaf and was surprised that I loved the flavor. I sautéed the chicken, made a mushroom/tarragon/cream sauce and put it over seasoned rice. To my utter shock, it was divine!

Look at food like you would if you were on the prowl for a lover. You won't find one if you don't go out of your comfort zone a little bit. Even if it's just to say "hi".

Food, after all, is very sensual. You see the rich red color of ripe tomatoes. Hear the crunch of an onion as you dice it. Taste the distinct flavor of basil. Feel the luxurious experience of olive oil. Smell the garlic as it sautés. As all of the senses combine to make something magical. A beautiful relationship forming (in this case, one with marinara sauce).

Food can be the thing that flashes us to a memory. For me, sage will always remind me of being a little girl watching the turkey roast in the oven on Thanksgiving. Every time I smell sage now I'm transported to being five years old in front of the oven waiting desperately for the little red popper to pop so we could enjoy a feast. Even the thought of sour cream reminds me of when my boyfriend made me the best pancakes I've ever eaten when we had just started dating. We sat down on an early Saturday morning with pipping hot cups of coffee and sour cream pancakes. We talked and watched the snow fall for hours until we realized we never wanted to be apart from each other.

That is the power food has. If he had never tried a recipe for sour cream pancakes, we would have never known how wonderful they are. I think we would have found out how crazy we are for each other, but because I had that epiphany over pancakes, I'll always remember it every time I see sour cream.

I encourage you to go out of the box and try something new. I did and I've never been happier. Food may not do that to you now, but I promise you it will.

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