January 2, 2012

Playing with food

So it turns out, trying to write a normal-ish blog post after your friend dies is hard. What is there to say? It's awful and bleak and difficult and feels like a hard ping in your gut every time you think about it. It sucks. I haven't known how - or even really wanted to - write about that.

Last night I watched this video, and though I'm not one for rah-rah inspirational lectures, this one felt different - authentic. It resonated, and I felt inspired. It made me feel like writing again.

It's a new year, new season, new era. A reminder to stop and take a fresh look at what's working and what's not. I'm not making resolutions, but I am asking myself to do a couple things each day:  1) floss (because I am super lazy about flossing, and my kid is following suit, and there have been all these scary headlines about how not flossing! causes heart disease! OMG!), and 2) focus on choices, small and large, that foster positiveness, kindness, and nourishment.

In that spirit, I'm gonna write about food for a while. Preparing it, cooking it, eating it. Everybody does it (like pooping! sorry). Everybody needs it. It can be fun. It can be a creative outlet. It can even be therapy.

I've always enjoyed cooking, but I have had a relatively narrow repertoire of dishes. This fall I was finding myself dreading meals, sick of making the same old things (pastatacoschickencutletsBLAH) but uninspired to try anything new. A friend invited me to attend cooking class at the local college, and I thought why not, I  keep saying I should do that ... and I was genuinely surprised at how much I loved it. Like, LOVED it. I picked up the worn-in apron neatly folded at my place, tied it on, looked around at the mass of pots and prep bowls and industrial six-burner stoves and felt giddy, like a little kid. That first night, I learned how to properly cut up a chicken and how to braise it. The next class I learned some classic French preparations and also that you should never try to puree hot curried zucchini soup in a blender because it will blow up and stain the walls and make the chef clench his teeth at you. I've also learned how to hold a knife the right way and can now julienne the shit out of pretty much any vegetable. Yay!

My cooking mojo has been restored, and I'm allowing myself one class per month to keep it going. In between, I'm pushing myself to try as many new dishes as I can. I've gotten a little bolder in my cooking, not just following new recipes, but tweaking them, combining them, and sometimes making up my own. It's fun, it's creative, and unless I burn the dish or create some vile flavor combination (it's been done!), I'm feeding my family well.

Here's a little visual feast featuring some of the things that have inspired me lately:

the spread at the end of one of my cooking classes (and Chef Ian's hipster hairdo)
 cashew chicken made by my mom's Thai friend Paul

ridiculously delicious Tuscan Benedict at Snooze in Boulder
new dishes. Thanks, Mom!

gorgeous, authentic paella cooked by our friends Wayne and Julie

Back soon with tales of my experiments in deliciousness!

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