I’ve been asked why I don’t post precise recipes. You know: a cup of this, 15 shrimp, 2.1415 oz of cheese crackers. Measurement is critical in baking, but in other cooking, it really may not be. This is a point of food philosophy I’d like to share.
Part of the glory of conscious eating is a reduction in waste. If you go to the store to get groceries to make say, a caprese salad, (an excellent idea) you’re going to have some things left over. A bit of greens, the rest of the basalmic, maybe a few tomatoes. You won’t have any of that fresh mozzarella left over. I know you ate the last bit, and I don’t blame you. But you will have odds and ends, and you spent money on it, and it is still delicious right now, but it won’t be for long. You need to enjoy it. So what do you do?
You can use your amazing internet skills to find a recipe that requires precisely the ingredients you have. Maybe. But what you have, for sure, is the basis for another great salad. What else have you got in the fridge that is in its final days? Leftover sirloin? That’d be good. A bunch of odds and ends of veggies? Well, that basalmic is still hanging around. Make a vinaigrette with a little olive oil and you have a fresh, cool dinner on a sweltering day. Right now I have some salmon filets. I could tell you a million recipes to make them delicious, but how much better is it to use whatever you have to flavor it up, rather than going out to find another collection of specific ingredients you won’t be able to use fully in one meal.
There are a few pantry staples you’ll want to keep around: whole wheat pasta, olive oil, flour and butter, salt, a spice mix you like, that sort of thing. But imagine you walk into the store, and there, on sale, is something you’re crazy about, that you usually don’t buy because it’s expensive, or out of season, or both. It’s there, whispering to you. If you learn the basics of things that are generally good together, and maybe a few unique suggestions to try, you can slide that luxury item into the cart and know you’ll be able to do something incredible with it, using what you already have. Learn a few basic sauces, get a spice blend and a rice cooker, and you’re on your way to glorious flavor adventures, without wasting your budget on obscure purple mushrooms only obtained from under a single tree in coastal Norway.
So I want to offer you suggestions of great, fresh food that’s easy to prepare, but I am hoping you’ll use what you have, or what’s in season, instead of seeking out what happened to be in my fridge on a particular afternoon. That’s what I’m doing here: taking advantage of what’s easily available to me, and challenging myself to make it beautiful and tasty and nutritious. Practice. Try things. Eat well.