Another Saturday morning of sneaking out with my husband to do groceries while the kids relax at home. Up until 2 years ago, groceries meant bribing the kids with dinner out after a busy day to shop as a family or one of us sneaking off by themselves to do groceries while the other did childcare. A dozen years of buying food that way and suddenly, we are back to being able to have conversations as we find items on our list and come home to happy children... well... almost. Erin is sick today with a horrid head cold, so Bethany left her alone and went bug-hunting in Animal Crossing City Folk while we were out.
Since the sky was grey and the wind was blustery, Nick decided to go up to work for the afternoon and I took over the kitchen. I had muffins to bake for Sunday School tomorrow and a new recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution to try. Local new potatoes had been on sale at the supermarket today and Nick found some leeks as well, so I decided to try the Potato and Leek soup from the book.
The leeks were lovely! Thank goodness Jamie explained about washing them under running water lengthwise though... there does tend to be a lot of silt and dirt that gets into those tight layers. Getting it out before chopping was essential.
Carrots and celery also got chopped on my boards and added to the saucepan while the broth came to a boil in the bigger pot.
By this point, I had taken over most of the counter and had Josh Groban playing in the background interspersed with the odd John Tesh instrumental from my drawing playlist. The afternoon sun was streaming in through my kitchen windows and I totally gave myself over to the act of being Creative with food.
New recipes are scary. There is the urge to stick with the tried and true that we know to be safe. I felt WAY more pressure after last Saturday’s disaster, the last half of which went in the garbage bag tonight. After 2 days of leftovers, even I gave up on it!
Yet as I held the potatoes in my hand to peel them, I became aware of how the gritty brown peel gave way to the slippery white flesh as I peeled them. How the smell of the garlic, leeks and other veggies simmering in the olive oil in the pan was beginning to waft its way through the house. How, instead of feeling rushed the way I do on weeknights when there are meetings or activities to race off to, I was able to enjoy the act of preparing a meal.
So here’s the thing. I think I am a closet “foodie”. With this huge bag of carrots on the counter, I had a sudden urge to replicate the delicious carrotes rapées that we’d enjoyed this summer in France. What did people ever do before they could look things up on the Internet? Not only did I find a fabulous guide to follow, I fell in love with a whole new blog to follow! David Lebovitz writes about France and food in a way that not only makes me smile, it takes me back to the very streets I wandered this summer and the foods that my taste buds still dream of. The beautiful pictures on the web site and in his blog were inspirational! (Look up some of the posts that deal with Chocolate!)
So, the soup simmered, I shredded carrots without losing any bits of finger or nail like I usually do, the rolls got warmed in the oven (no, I cheated and bought those at the bakery 3 blocks away) and by supper time, I had mastered not one but TWO delicious recipes. A meal that was not only vegetarian, it qualified for the 100 mile diet if you discounted the olive oil that came back from France with me (at least it shared my plane).
Erin crawled out of her room to join us at the table and make appreciative croaking noises before being re-banished to her room. Bethany declared the soup to now be on her top 10 favourite foods list as she went back for a 3rd bowl. I was feeling Creative and pretty proud of myself right up until Nick looked at the girls with a grin and said “Well, this certainly proves that our kitchen is a great place to take a leek!”
Hmmmm... I guess I have to let him live. After 20 years, it would be just too hard to break in a new husband.
INHALE: Trying new recipes can be terrifying. We tend to be SO hard on ourselves about wanting everything to be perfect that we forget... new recipes have to be tried and tested before they ever make it into cookbooks. Someone, somewhere had to be brave enough to try a food combination for the first time. Everyone is going to have different tastes and sensibilities anyway... how else could you explain haggis? Stop worrying about perfection in your Creativity. Try instead to find the TIME to be Creative when cooking so that you don’t have to rush things.
EXHALE: Think back to a food that you remember from a favourite trip, a childhood meal or some other special time in your life. Memories can be linked to sound, smell, taste and texture, so being more Creative involves nurturing all your senses. Give yourself half an hour to wander the Internet, browse through your existing cookbooks or even check out the cooking section at your local bookstore. Pick out a recipe that excites you, that makes you feel like exploring your Creativity more... then plan where and when you can give yourself the time to try it. It just may become a new family favourite!