Saturday, January 25, 2014

Finding My Place in the Kitchen

Tonight's dinner, a rather late dinner since I sat down to watch the Boilers lose to the Badgers (sad face), was individual chicken pot pies. Last night, I made coconut crusted cod on a bed of seasoned spinach (and had to saute a second batch of spinach as both boys wanted more), and other meals throughout this week included chicken enchiladas, and broccoli cheese soup with crusty Italian bread. Most of the meals I've been putting together take around an hour and a half from start to finish, but in the end, hearing the boys say, "Mmmmm, that was good" and "Thanks, Mom" make the time well worth it. I've also found, too, that the entire process is almost a meditative one. I've never been so mindful about a knife chopping an onion or the thickening of a sauce like I find myself now.

Another change I've noticed is the more I cook, the braver I'm becoming with using herbs and spices. I never used to work with anything beyond a bit of salt and pepper, but now I go to all the herbs I grew then dried last summer, and I've added more spices to my cupboard. Tonight's chicken pot pie, though tasty with just some salt and pepper, took on a fuller flavor after I added some thyme and rosemary. The buttery crust combined with the flavors of the filling, adding a just-right sweetness to the dish. I'm pretty sure not a drop remained in any of our bowls. Angel Baby even used his fingers to get the last few drops of the filling at the bottom of his bowl. Such was the case with the enchiladas and the broccoli/cheese soup.

Tomorrow is bread day. Though I'm not sure what I'll go with for dinner, I do know I'll bake a loaf of bread. Maybe the bread could be dinner: French toast. Eggs in a basket. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So many possibilities just from a loaf of bread.


Cathy said...

On bread making day, I can never decide how to eat the first slices :). Perhaps you could do a big pan of roasted veggies (seasoned with your herbs)...plate the veggies with fried eggs sitting on top, and then do buttery toast on the side. People could lift eggs onto toast, dip toast into egg yolk, or even save toast for a "dessert" by slathering with jam. Ooooooo or frittata with thick slices of bread! (Can you tell I love breakfast for dinner?)

JK said...

Can't tell at all! Love it! Thanks for the great ideas. The roasted veggies would be awesome and something I know the boys would scarf down then ask for more.

Cathy said...

I love doing roasted veggies when I can't think of what to make for dinner--while they are roasting, I usually figure out the rest :)

Also, I meant to comment on your thoughts on cooking as meditation and getting braver the more you cook. That was exactly my experience. I now really only use recipes as inspiration and go my own way--or I just imagine what sounds good (I used to actually dream of new awesome food combos) and then do it. It is so fun to create.

Of course, you still need recipes when it comes to baking as that's really more "chemistry". Though, once you learn the general rules there you can play too (sort of like learning the forms in poetry). One of my favorite things to play with is cookies. Once you understand the purpose of the basic ingredients and their relative proportions you can go wild. Sometimes, I find myself making cookies with no recipe at all.

JK said...

Since I'm just really starting to feel comfortable in the kitchen, I follow recipes. I'm finding, though, that I am figuring out what can substitute for what and how the chemistry works with the baking. I ended up taking yesterday off since Hubby wanted to cook. I just baked some cookies and a loaf of bread.