Sunday, April 10, 2016

What's Your Cooking Superpower?

As a zealous home cook, I like cooking just about anything. Recipes are always percolating in my mind; last week, for instance, as I waited at the salon with my hair full of dye and a towel around my shoulders, you would have found me taking photos with my phone of magazine recipes. I may never be able to read those photos clearly enough to prepare the dishes outright, but I now have lots of ideas and some fuzzy notes as a guide.

I am curious and creative by nature, and cooking feeds these attributes for me (while I feed others, a clear win-win.) While I'm almost never unhappy in the kitchen, three categories of meals really get me excited: 

  1. Complicated, new recipes that have a pay-off as big as the work (e.g., almost everything printed in "Cook's Illustrated")
  2. Dishes which are whipped up from my imagination based on the techniques I've already learned with category #1, and 
  3. Meals made entirely from stuff I find in the freezer, fridge and pantry, developed on the spot with what is on hand.

Tonight's dinner was in category #3, a frugal crockpot cheesy chicken and broccoli with rice. I got to use up veg on its way out, frozen free-range chicken purchased on sale, and left over bits of really decadent cheeses (Parmesan, Emmental, smoked cheddar and mozzarella) originally purchased for the really decadent Easter recipes I prepared for guests a few weeks ago. (Cheese + decadence = total win.) I even managed to use up a can of evaporated milk, and to throw in some fresh herbs from our patio garden. 

The meal was a success, but improvements could me made if I ever attempt it again. Next time, I'd add the broccoli in a little later in the game, use a little less flour for thickening, and add a little more salt at the start. I love that cooking always provides the opportunity to learn, to make things better, etc., even with a humble deconstructed casserole that may never be made exactly the same way again.

All together, it didn't look like much—note, no glossy internet-ready photo is here—but it tasted great, the family had seconds, and it made me feel like a cooking superhero. Every time I make something new and yummy, I increase my self-efficacy, and get excited to tackle the next challenge. On nights like this, I feel like wearing a cape along with my apron!

What's your cooking superpower?

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