Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Cook with Imagination
I've been thinking about what I want to talk about today. I had decided, but just hadn't written yet when my tv was on The Chew and they stole my idea, lol! Well, maybe not. But it can't be said enough, so instead of changing topics, I think I'll continue on the same thought.
I've met and known of so many people these days that don't cook. And after living the past 6 years with multiple food intolerances, I am even more amazed that of this and convinced that those of us with food issues, can't NOT know how. It's not rocket science. Although the chemistry of baking, especially with alternative flours and ingredients certainly leaves me stumped. I CERTAINLY don't profess to be educated or know everything. I simply have lived with it long enough to figure out I WANT to cook again. I have alot of #FAILS and a few really good successes and ALOT that falls in the middle, somewhere. I still struggle with the expense of many of the alternative ingredients and experimenting. I'm too cheap to not be affected by throwing the failures down the garbage disposal. I have been VERY thankful to be able to get eggs and dairy back in the mix. They certainly help tremendously.
One thing I've always kinda of enjoyed is reworking leftovers. I think its fun to open up the fridge and figure out how I can make a little of this and little of that into something brand new. My family goes in spurts whether they are good about eating leftovers or not. So, if I can remake them, its helpful. You might argue that if you don't cook much, how would you know what goes together, or what spices to use. I also know alot of people that can't cook without using recipes. Personally, I only use most recipes once. If its a keeper, then the next time I start tweeking and using what I may have on-hand instead of something specific the recipe calls for.
But you eat out, don't you? Or watch The Food Network? Say you want something to taste Mexican....what seasonings are known Mexican seasonings? Cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion powders. That's not an exclusive list, but its a good start. When you eat out, what GOES on Mexican foods? Beans, Spanish rice, lime, different peppers, corn, tomotoes, etc. Again this isn't an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. You KNOW more than you think you do!! EXPERIMENT! If your diet doesn't include dairy, obviously you avoid the cheeses or "creamies". You CAN experiment with cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot to thicken. Or any of the many soy cheeses, milks, or nut butters and milks to substitute. I never tried the nut derived products as nuts is one of my no-no's. But I did learn that the soy versions of most of those things are VERY delicate and don't hold up long to the heat of average cooking. So just add them late in your process. I STILL will say that sticking with as many unprocessed foods as possible will still give you the best results. I often simply left out one factor to a recipe than use a processed alternative. I was usually disappointed with the result anyway. But anyway you shake it, I never found ANYTHING that was "as good as the original". It may be GOOD, but different. And the sooner you learn to let go of that expectation the happier you'll be. I know I hung on way too long!
But back to the figuring out what goes with what when cooking. One thing that has changed life as we all know it that would help you when you just HAVE to see something "official" in print, is your computer!! Google it! Ask Ask! : ) But I say give yourself a shot....trust your instincts! Experiment!