Post #420 Fearlessness

September 28, 2015 at 12:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Julia Child always said “Be Fearless!  Have the courage of your convictions.”  Whether she was tossing an omelet for the first time on television or talking with a guest chef decades later on another show, the message remained the same.

I tend to be a safe cook.  I want my family fed, and fed well.  So I follow the recipe as written at least once.  I watch other cooks closely to follow their technique and make certain I can replicate it.  Occasionally, I will branch out on my own to create something unique and tasty, but it’s nearly always a take off from another recipe that I just messed around with.

But I’ve known some cooks who were utterly fearless in the kitchen.  Like Julia, they would look at a pile of ingredients and say “What if we did this?” and strike out.  I’ve told you about my little brother and his “damn the torpedoes” style of cooking.  He happily ate the results and lived to tell the tale.  And turned into quite a good cook along the way.  Another is Partner/Spouse.  Like me, he’ll watch another chef creating something while turning over in his mind how he would do it.  He’ll latch on to a single ingredient and mull it around into something uniquely his.  Like this weekend.

We had our usual busy weekend filled with errands and road trips.  One of the Sunday morning errands was doing the little bit of grocery shopping that needed to be done.  Grocery shopping for us is a never ending task, not only because we actually use the groceries we buy, but because inevitably we forget something important.  We do the list thing, but sometimes things don’t actually get on the list that we need.  We honestly try to shop once every two weeks (except for fresh vegetables when they’re in season like now).  And we adjust menus and dishes for what we have on hand so we can get by without the important item we forgot until the weekend.  Then we’ll go shopping and actually pick up the item we forgot, while forgetting another item just as important in the process.  Like I said, it never ends.

We’ve discovered that the best time to do the bulk shopping at our favorite store is first thing Sunday morning.  Sometimes we preface it with a quick stop at the diner so we don’t go into the grocery store hungry.  Or else we make certain to eat something before we leave the house.  Either way, it helps to cut down on the impulse buys.

Last week, I had made a stir fry with a teriyaki sauce that was delicious and made the stir fry wonderful.  I couldn’t remember what store I’d gotten it at, so we were looking for it on Sunday.  It wasn’t there, but Partner/Spouse who is a big fan of Panda Express saw some sauces from the restaurant, one of them his favorite Orange Chicken sauce.  He snagged it saying “I’m making dinner tonight.”

We had originally discussed having fried chicken and tater tots for dinner.  Simple comfort foods perfect for the end of the weekend.  Once that bottle was in the cart, I knew those plans were out the window.  But since I wasn’t cooking, I was happy to let whatever was going to happen take its course.

I had a new e-book from the library I was reading and it was a fascinating subject for me.  So I was caught up in absorbing all the details about public shaming while things were banging and clattering in the kitchen.  There were occasional mutterings, soft cursing, intense calls to “Move!” at the dogs.  After some time, there was the final call of “It’s ready!”

We had steamed rice.  Love steamed rice.  There were fried mushrooms for me!  And in the large skillet, there were large chunks of deep fried chicken breast with snow peas and leeks swimming in the jarred orange sauce from Panda Express.

It was so GOOD!

But Partner/Spouse couldn’t leave it there.  He added some extra stuff to the sauce.  He put in some garlic and just a few crushed red pepper flakes.  It had a tiny kick to it and made it taste so much better than it would have otherwise.  I loaded my plate up and came nowhere near finishing it.  But it was good.

And it’s not what I would have done.  Since I didn’t conceive of it, I didn’t make it, and I didn’t serve it, it in no way would have matched what I would have made.  I would have read the directions on the bottle.  I would have searched the internet.  I would have looked at the cookbooks I have massing up again.  Only after I was completely familiar with the standard recipe would I have started branching out and adjusting flavors to my taste or to our tastes.

Some people start at that step.  And it was GOOD!

Enjoy

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4 Comments

  1. I like to experiment, though I don’t know whether I’d call it fearless [perhaps when the experiment works] or foolish [when the experiment results in ordering take-out].

    • There have been many times when we’ve had to order pizza at the last minute. It’s always embarrassing. Once, I thought to cook the pasta directly in the sauce instead of in a separate pot. I wanted to use a fast cooking pasta so I chose angel hair. I got the sauce blazingly hot and put the angel hair directly into it. It all turned pink, mushy, and completely inedible. I know the problem with that now, but at the time, I wasted two gallons of marinara sauce.

  2. It’s good to be fearless in the kitchen.

    • Yup, I agree. Sometimes, I just can’t. Today, the most adventurous I got was putting mushrooms on the bottom of the pan I was reheating a pork roast in. Partner/Spouse hates mushrooms. But there were also onions, garlic, carrots, and parsnips.


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