Monday, September 22, 2008

So what is a kitchen forager?

There are days when I feel really inspired to cook. Maybe I have all the right ingredients for a particular dish I've been craving, maybe I get a request from my girlfriend for something she hasn't eaten in a while or maybe I saw something on a great food blog or cooking show I want to give a go. On these days, cooking seems effortless. My timing is perfect, and the food looks and tastes exactly as I had intended.

At the other end of the spectrum are times when cooking is just another necessary chore. Nothing sounds remotely appealing. The refrigerator is empty, none of the cookbooks in our collection seem to stir my interest and the sink is full of last nights pots and pans. On these days perhaps it would be easier to just get take-out, or worse yet fast food, but what's the challenge in taking that route? Whether or not I feel like getting into the kitchen, one thing is certain, I, like you, am faced with the daily decision of what I'm going to eat.

I often turn to the internet for inspiration, food blogs in particular. A friend of mine once shared with me that when he and his wife are at a loss for what to make for dinner, they do a web search by typing in whatever ingredients they have on hand and sure enough, up pops a bunch of recipes and images. I've done it and even though the results may be for dishes I wouldn't even imagine making, it gives me a suggestion as to the full potential of those ingredients. Try it sometime. For example, type in beets, prosciutto and couscous and see what comes up. Here's a tip: for best results, limit your search to three ingredients.

I like to eat. I also like to cook, but as I mentioned earlier, what do you do when it seems like there's nothing to cook? I forage. Stare at your open refrigerator, rummage through the cabinets, look on-line for ideas. Something should come to mind. Can you make use of leftovers by turning them into another dish? Is there anything like sun-dried tomatoes that can be used up? If you use your imagination, you'll probably come up with something. Will it be good enough to replicate? Maybe not, but you never know, you may surprise yourself with a keeper, I have on occasion.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures but this is when creativity really takes place and improvisation yields the most successful results. Armed with the right staples, condiments, spices and herbs, I believe you can make a meal out of anything. If there is absolutely nothing in the kitchen to work with, well...... by all means, order in a good pizza!

Happy foraging!

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