No Cooking Instinct

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I am frustrated. I feel that I have no cooking instinct. Maybe it’s not that I have no instinct, maybe it’s just that I’m afraid to try. I have always cooked using a recipe. I plan out my week’s menu after pouring over my cookbook collection and my grocery store’s sales flyer. Now, I know that I’ve read that it’s a good idea to plan your menus, that you spend less at the grocery store when you do. And I think I do spend less, because I try to use up everything. So, that if I have a recipe that uses 1 cup of sour cream, I try to find another recipe to use up whatever I have left, so there is little waste. But still, I admire people who can open up their fridge and whip up dinner from whatever they find.

I want to cook more simply and intuitively. I am currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. I cannot recommend it enough, it is a fascinating account of her families attempt at eating locally. It is really making me think about what I am cooking, or more to the point, the ingredients with which I am cooking. I admit that I am guilty of using cucumbers in December, and I don’t think I can give up the assortment of fruits and vegetables that are available year round. But I do want to try to eat locally at least during the local growing season. My CSA shipments are helping with that and I plan to visit my local farmer’s market on Sunday.

I think what is making this so difficult for me is that I usually approach what to cook based on the protein. For my menu planning I try to have it balanced between chicken, fish, pork, vegetarian, and occasionally beef. So, now, when I’m sitting here with a bunch of bok choy or some arugula, I draw a blank. I’m not used to trying to figure out what to cook based on the the vegetables. This is the problem from always using recipes, and especially from always trying new recipes. I don’t really “know” how to cook, I know how to read recipes. I want to try to change that.

What’s going to make this plan more difficult is that school starts back up tomorrow. So, I will not have as much time to plan. And I do have to plan, even if it’s nothing more than saying Friday is fish, with some sort of greens and some sort of rice. I have to have a plan, I can’t come home from school, tired, and not at least have an idea of what I am doing. I’m sorry for rambling, and if you are still reading this, any suggestions to help me with my process would be appreciated!

No food pictures today, but here a couple from garden that I took recently, sort of a before and after shot!

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  1. Lori says

    Oh my gosh, those are beautiful pictures. Regarding knowing how to cook vs. knowing how to read recipes, I’m the same way. I think it comes down to practice. The more we read and cook, the better we’ll get at winging stuff in the future. I hope so anyway!

    By the way, you’re it! :oD Hope you don’t mind playing this little blog game. Random facts can be pretty entertaining.

  2. says

    Pam, your photos are beautiful!

    As for cooking and planning, I’ve tried once but my husband is too picky and he always likes to eat the same old food… (which for me is awful, but anyway).

    I think the recipes I’ve seen here are wonderful and also think that making a vegetarian meal can be tricky.

  3. says

    Your pictures are stunning! I am going to tell our gifted science teacher – she does a great lesson with photographs.

    As far as cooking, before I began my blog, I was a boring cook, if I cooked at all. I use recipes a lot and through the various recipes, have learned how to be a bit more adventurous. Also, as I read blogs and see ingredients I have never tried, I have a focal point for a new dish! :) Does that all make sense? I am babbling after a long day…

  4. says

    I just found your blog and I’m going through some of the archives. I think you DO know how to cook, just by having cooked so much. I also think you have to start out a big smaller than trying to cook an entire meal without a recipe. Perhaps you could try to just figure out a tasty way to cook the greens, and use a recipe for the protein to take some of the pressure off. You’re blog is great, and I am quite sure you know a thing or two about cooking!

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