Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Musings and thoughts

It's a bit of an oxymoron... before I went to culinary school and started working in the bakery full time I used to bake and cook all the time at home (okay.... maybe just a touch of exaggeration but I swear, just a touch!).

I relished whipping up batches of brownies, chocolate chip cookies; making biscuits and cornbread (nothing better than fresh from the oven cornbread using fresh stone ground corn with a small pat of butter slowly melting over it-{okay, mouth watering starts now}). Soups, chili, and stews simmering on the stove; trying out new spices-seriously, does it get better than Smoked Spanish Paprika? Oh, or fresh Rosemary-I would love to have a field of that, let me tell you. Making treats for the dogs, I had upwards of 6 cookbooks just for pooches (also, had some for the cats but they were rather disdainful of my attempts at making treats for them-sigh).

Basically, I just loved playing around with food, the air laden with the aromas of garlic, sauteing onion, while the underlying richness of coffee scented the air.

[I do not like the taste of coffee but the aroma? It's like a drug for me-I will buy a 1/4 pound bag of beans and use it in my dresser as a sachet, mmmmmmmmm-oh, and walking into a coffee shop? It's like swimming in the essence-I could do the backstroke for hours except I have a feeling the managers and police probably would take a dim view of that.]

Then, so I wouldn't eat everything myself, I would take some to work or school, and also pass stuff on to other random people that I knew.

For me, it's not so much about making the food to eat though I enjoy that part as well (perhaps a bit too much sometimes), it's more about the fragrances that permeate my environment.

Nuts toasting in the oven, bread baking, the aromas of vanilla, chocolate, cardamom, rosemary, garlic, and thyme...

Who needs the artificial potpourri smell when those aromas are floating in the air?

I think about this sporadically, usually when I am feeling a touch maudlin.

I remember the bistro where I used to work; the local farmers would stop in with perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes, freshly dug truffles, garlic varieties that I had never heard of, random array of greens and freshly picked berries that just begged to be munched right then and there. There was so much potential sitting in front of me.
Every morning was a fresh start, figuring out how to incorporate seasonal items into the daily menus.

Now, it seems sooooooo much easier to just stop at the local New Seasons grocery store (usually somewhat healthier than the local fast food chains thank goodness :) and snag something already made from the deli case or to just cut a slice of Fudge or German Chocolate cake from the bakery to take home rather than heat up the oven.

Far fewer dishes to wash up, no scrambling for containers to store stuff in, no endless rounds of the game show "What to do with leftovers tonight?" which gets old after day three (when I cook I have a slight tendency to cook too much).

so I have extra time to do...hmmmm... (what do I do?)

In other words, I have become lazy.

Now, living in a place that has such a huge bounty of unusual and interesting foodstuffs to try, to taste, and to savor-it's almost too much of a good thing. I am overwhelmed by what is available in this area and I start to take for granted that one of the Farmer's Markets or a local New Seasons will have something already prepared if I am so inclined towards something particular.

I am working at breaking out of that habit, very slowly it seems sometimes but then I remember something one of my culinary school Chef instructors told us once when he was lecturing,
"Try something new every day".
(thank you Chef Brophy)

Whether it's a new ingredient, a new method of cooking, or heck even deciding to go rock climbing in the City of Rocks, life is meant to be experienced, not comfortably settled into a rut.

Now, I should go study my Agrippa..

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