Friday, March 18, 2016

Learning to Embrace the Moment

I've been having a lot of fun in the kitchen lately, but what every kitchen session had in common was that I had no interest whatsoever in picking up a camera while I was cooking.  Sometimes this is an accident: I'm just screwing around with an idea and end up making something amazing, then regret not having documented any of it for future replication.  More often than not, though, the thing that keeps me from taking pictures is the fact that I'm really enjoying just being there, in the moment, cooking.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the talents/technique/skill of an actual food photographer, but every time I've thought about raising my photo-taking game I've realized it would mean more time setting up and taking pictures, with less time for doing what I actually love.  (Also, more money spent on lenses means less money with which to buy steak...)  It's good for me to remember that this blog is about cooking, not pictures...

In that vein, here are three things I've been psyched about in the kitchen lately but haven't stopped to take pictures of:  

FIRE!  It had been far too long since I threw raw ingredients on my grill and cooked them to charred, beautiful deliciousness.  I so enjoy the precision of sous vide cooking that I fell into a habit of cooking most non-chicken meats that way... Then I picked up a gorgeous never-frozen local skirt steak at Providore Foods and had no intention of waiting even 24 hours for it to sous vide to tender perfection, so I tossed it on the grill with some asparagus and had this visceral moment of happiness as I turned the meat and veg over the fire.  The steak was indeed a bit more toothsome than it would have been after a long slow application of heat, but it was still tender and was absolutely delicious, and is there any better way to cook asparagus? Why had I fallen away from doing something that makes me so happy?  We've been grilling up veggies on a regular basis since that day, and never cease to be impressed by how delicious food becomes with the application of fire...

Green things! (That's a picture of kale sprouts, which I tried for the first time from Rubinette Produce a month ago and found to be super-delicious...)  My future-mother-in-law has been staying with us, and leave it to a mom to remind you to eat your veggies!  I'm (mostly) kidding, but shopping with a veggie-lover in the house has resulted in big beautiful piles of kale, broccoli rabe, kale rabe, spinach, green beans, and asparagus in my kitchen.  It's been a great reminder of how much we love fresh, simply-prepared vegetables - something I somehow forgot until recently.

Confidence! (I don't have a web pic to go with this one, so please enjoy this picture of my ridiculous dog looking confident in her skull harness...)  This is kind of a weird one.  I've been cooking and reading about food since as early as high school, and first really got into experimenting in the kitchen when I started grad school (which somehow was 15 years ago already... yeesh...).  I've cooked many, many things that I know for a fact were delicious over those years, but I've never actually thought of myself as a "good" cook until this last year or so.  As I've begun realizing that I kick ass in the kitchen (look at that confidence!), I've given myself more freedom to trust my kitchen instincts, and as a result have made even better food. My days of  13-hour days working through a recipe for Thomas Keller's food may be behind me, but spending a half hour at a time making My food has been at least as satisfying, if not more so.