Learning, we are

by kalamckala

I am on top of all academic obligations. I have submitted the application to rent a house. Raw goat’s milk is now at the farmer’s market! This morning I devoured a blissful chocolate coconut milkshake thick enough to eat with a spoon. I know that bread will emerge hot from the oven in 45 minutes and a solid 1.5 hours of yoga are in my imminent future. I am a happy, happy girl.

Besides being happy with having friends who share my passion and enthusiasm for nourishing food, I’ve noticed that I am happy with food itself. I have been enjoying the bounty of differing fruits and vegetables that each season has to offer. Winter has provided beautiful crops of kale, cabbage, blood-red beets, and flavorful grapefruit, but these are all coming to an end. Spring has sprung with the arrival of dainty asparagus stalks, ripe strawberries, and locally raised spring lamb. I don’t know exactly what the summer holds but I do know for certain that I will savor all it has to offer. {I have my fingers crossed for sweetcorn!}

I will savor summer by highlighting its flavors, making that the focal point of the meal, and utilizing simple preparations. More and more I find that simple meals are best and I have come to recognize their full worth. I mean, what more does one need for lunch than a baguette, Herbs de Provence goat cheese, a handful of almonds, and one single apple? The more I know, the less I fool around with the ingredients and the more I enjoy. It’s simple: all one has to do to learn about food is to follow a recipe.

I think I can confidently say that am an experienced home cook. With this sense of prestige, recently I’ve delved into the idea that I’m above following recipes; strict measurements and amounts are silly and wiggle room is more than okay. But then I realized something: I’ve learned about food by following recipes. I’ve learned from my successes as well as my failures and I’ve learned from authors who have guided me from sifting flour to inserting a toothpick in the center of a cake to ensure proper doneness. But, by gosh, this learning process is constant! Just last night I learned that green vegetables should be puréed into risotto for maximum flavor and visual appeal and a friend showed me how stunningly unassuming a breakfast of bread and a bowl of yogurt drizzled with olive oil can be.

I may not necessarily learn from following each and every recipe anymore, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to be learned.

Learning can be done by all, especially in the kitchen! Recipes aren’t strict laws to be followed, they are guidelines and a means for someone to recreate exactly what someone else already has. If you substitute or omit certain ingredients, the recipe will not fail, it will just be different. It will be yours. {And just to be completely clear, I’m talking about recipes for cooking not baking.}

So if you’re trying to embrace mint, substitute it in a pesto recipe. If you really like cinnamon {ahem, me} then try adding up to a teaspoon to any quick bread recipe. I even like to whip butter with cinnamon and honey to lather onto cornbread, which is possibly the only time I enjoy buttered bread.

So read blogs and cookbooks for recipes, follow them to learn more, swoon over their impeccable photos, and add your own flare to experiment and to learn. There is such a skill to cooking simply – the pros make it look easy – but you too can learn to identify flavor combinations and ingredient substitutions and you too can call yourself an experienced home cook.

Being a home cook is something that all people should aspire to be. The ability to prepare delicious and nutritious meals for yourself, your friends, and your family is quite special. And let me tell you, it is highly appreciated. A home-cooked meal is truly a gift and knowing that it came from your hand is thrilling and should be celebrated.

Even the passing of March should be celebrated.

I’ll celebrate simply. I’ll celebrate with juice.

Ginger grapefruit juice with lime
serves one

Throw these through the juicer in order:

1/4-inch knob of ginger
1/2 lime, peeled
1 grapefruit, peeled

Serve it up!