This week I had this epiphany while I was baking. I baked dozens of biscuits and loaves of bread and in the process of being creative with my bread and biscuit making; I had one of those AHA moments. You know that moment when you see something you have never been able to see before. Or maybe you saw it before, but now you are seeing it in a new way.
I have been aware of how my ability to become increasingly creative in the kitchen has enabled me to tap into a zenful state that avoids me when I am following someone else’s recipe. For me, it is like those shoes that feel great when you first try them on in the store, but after walking in them for a few hours, you realize they are nice, but not exactly what you are looking for. Unlike the shoes, I can adapt the recipe to the needs of my palette or that of the person or people for which I am cooking.
Maybe it was thinking about waffles last week that got me thinking about this, but it dawned on me that there are those things, which are essential to a recipe, and those that are not. For example, the other day I wanted to use up some leftovers in my pantry and refrigerator and make some biscuits. While I had the Bisquick, an essential as you know for Zoë’s waffles (lol), I did not have any milk, a supposed core ingredient for making biscuits according to their recipe. However, I did have some buttermilk a friend had given me because she had too much and she knew I would find a use for it. So in went the buttermilk. And while I was mixing the dough, I started thinking about those biscuits at red lobster with the cheese and garlic. While I was out of cheddar, I did have mozzarella and tons of garlic (I always have garlic). So in those went and while I had intended to do drop biscuits, they wound up being rolled because I wanted to knead the cheese and garlic into the dough. Batch 1 was now done and I wound up with these mouth-watering cheddar garlic biscuits. Then I started thinking about pizza and thought I could probably do the same thing and took my Bisquick and the last of the buttermilk and added some diced pepperoni and the last of my shredded mozzarella. Ah pizza biscuits. Of course, all biscuits look better with a glaze, so I had to brush them with melted butter before baking them.
All of this was happening while I was waiting for my bread to rise enough that I could bake it. That is when it dawned on me; I had done the very same kind of thing with my bread. I have been thinking about cheese bread, but did not have a recipe. Then this voice in my head, said and you need one why. So I made my standard bread recipe and added a few cups of cheddar cheese and some chives. It was so good.
It was somewhere in the process of all this baking that I had this aha moment, there are in any recipe those ingredients that are core, they are the must have ingredients if you are going to make something and then there are those that are the go for it ingredients. They are the things that you can add to personalize a dish and put your own spin on it, like my Mexican waffles with cheddar cheese and salsa or the one I am going to try next – the pizza waffle with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese throughout.
It is like the core ingredients are a blank canvas and my go for it ingredients are the paints with which I create my work of art. I wonder if that is what it was like in the beginning. Was there this blank kind of canvas and as my favorite children’s book, And God Created Squash, says there was this constant adding of ingredients (animals, plants, aspects of the environment, etc), until it was pleasing the palette of the Creator.
Is this what our belief systems are like. For me there are some core things, which I know to be true, and they stay with me all the time. There are days however, that different things speak to my soul. So one day I may be listening to something soothing like Tibetan monks or the sounds of nature and another day listening to something jazzier like Diana Krall. Sometimes it is the writings in the Old or New Testament that speak to my soul. Other times it is the Bhagavad Gita. Other times, it is Dr Seuss or something far more scholarly or theological. These are the go to ingredients that address the spiritual cravings of the day. But like my biscuits and bread, there are the core ingredients/values that are always present and never changing.