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:
- Complicated, new recipes that have a pay-off as big as the work (e.g., almost everything printed in "Cook's Illustrated")
- Dishes which are whipped up from my imagination based on the techniques I've already learned with category #1, and
- 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?