Chef…a culinary experiment

I love to cook.  I love to buy colourful foods (vegetables and fruits) and figure out what to make with them.  I love to research (basically “Google” recipes) and try out new things.  I have now expanded my culinary skills to actually NOT following a recipe.  Does that mean I’m a chef?  Well, that is a definition I actually looked up.  Chef means that you cook meals for people.  Yes I do that!  It mentions something about restaurants too…ok, I don’t have a restaurant, but anyone eating at my home and people I work with think I should open one. Very complimentary, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level.  Anyway, in my mind “chef” has a different meaning.  CHEF – Can Have Experimental Food!  Yes, anyone eating my food is my chosen guinea pig to test new things.  Welcome to my thoughts and dissertations on food.

Food.  I could say it’s a love/hate relationship but I would be lying.  I LOVE FOOD!  I love experimenting with new recipes.  I love prepping it.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  Notice…there is a lot of love here.  The hate part is…I LOVE FOOD!  Let me explain my absolute food weaknesses…McDonald’s french fries.  I swear those are like crack-cocaine to me.  I don’t do drugs, but these hot little sticklettes make me weak in the knees.  After that or almost neck and neck is pizza.  What kind of pizza?   Hmmmm…thin crust, thick crust, tomato sauce style, white garlic/oil style.  Mozzarella or goat cheese.  Pepperoni or roasted eggplant and zucchini with balsamic drizzle.  To add to my super cholesterol heart-stopping food fest…CHICKEN WINGS!!!!  I am a Wing-nut!!  (In many ways…)  Those are my favourite, unhealthy indulgences.  Do I have an unhealthy relationship with food?  Perhaps…but what relationship is perfect?   Am I right?

History lesson:  when cooking as a child with my mother I got to lick the spinny-things from the hand mixer.  I got to mix the tomato sauce for pasta.  I got to eat pizza dough (oops…that was never supposed to be revealed).  My cooking lessons were as follows:

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Sporije!  (translation:  slower!)

Mama:  Ovako.. (translation:  like this…)

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Ovako mjesaj  (translation:  Mix like this)

Mama:  NE TAKO! (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

So…there you have my basic cooking lessons.

Oh wait!  There are two more phrases my mother always used:

Mama:  Na umjerenoj vatri (translation:  bake at 350…she actually had to explain what middle heat meant and then I finally realized it was always 350 degrees)

And last but not least:

Mama:  Otprilike (about or approximately).  Yes most recipes had that included.  Any seasonings you were to use like salt or pepper, you were basically guessing how much was needed.  For a newbie learning how to cook that never helped.

So, when I started sharing my knowledge with others I improved the lessons I had received.  I liked to train by smell.  I also did not use measurements (bad teacher), but I would have the meat in a bowl, and then I would cover the tops of the meat with salt or pepper or paprika.  We would mix the meat and then I would ask my “student” to smell.  Yes…you can actually smell salt and pepper and paprika and you could know if there was too much.  Seriously!  Again, for beginners we would start with a few shakes because you can always start with less and add more but you can’t take away if you have added too much.  There.  That is my greatest cooking advice.

Am I a chef?  Yes, in my mind I totally am.  I cook food for people.  I love cooking!  I am practising baking (not quite perfect yet, but it’s all in the learning).  I have the best kitchen with my Wolf Subzero Stove.   I think that people who have tasted my creations can vouch for me.

To summarize…I LOVE COOKING!  I love filling my house with family (approx 20+ people) and cooking and enjoying their reactions to my recipes.  Nervous?  Absolutely!  I want everyone to love it!  Yes…there goes that “love” word again.  Why?   I truly believe that feeding people with food is nourishing, but I also believe that the love that I put into making my food transmits into internal happiness for those who consume it.  Food isn’t just about livelihood, it’s about sharing and caring.

My newest adventure is with old fashioned European foods (lately Italian), and putting my own educated spin on it.  Check out this lovely plain recipe full of flavoured layers and many “oh my this is good” in between bites!  My latest heartfelt and enjoyable culinary experiment.

RECIPE:

1 half baguette

1 large garlic clove

4 tbsp buratta (I think…approximately)

4 tbsp balsamic drizzle (basically balsamic vinegar and honey boiled down for 30 minutes until thickened…”google” for an actual recipe…otherwise…meh…approximately what you think will work)

THERE!  Authentic European recipe.  MANGIA!  (That’s amore…I mean Italian!)

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Toasted french stick bread, rubbed with fresh garlic. Buratta spread on top and drizzled with homemade balsamic drizzle

 

Forgive and (maybe forget)…but move on

Life is interesting.  A simple,  blasé thought perhaps, but true.  Life and the meaning of life is so different depending on where you find yourself on this so-called journey.  Is life about finding the “why am I here?” answer.  Is life about just having fun?  Is life about suffering so that you can live in a wonderful afterlife?  There are many schools of thought.  In the quest to figure out what life is about, I have been introduced to two specific types of people and I have been incredibly lucky to have met both types:  help you and hurt you.  Both of them have provided me with life changing experiences.

Through years of living (lucky me) and having my life journey cross the paths of others, I have learned, I have taught, I have lived.  I have had the pleasure and honour of meeting people that have helped me move forward in a happy direction.  I have also had the displeasure of meeting those that used me, abused me, and discarded me like a piece of refuse.  I am truly grateful to have met both.  Why?

There were those who appreciated me and helped me.  They showed me that there are true “givers” in the world.  These individuals taught me that kindness exists.  There are people willing to unconditionally assist you and help you grow.  There is no need for paybacks or “owe-sies”.  It’s about being a kind human, with feelings of love for their fellow man. A desire to let others grow.

Then there were the selfish folk.  Those who pretended to be there for me, but were really trying to figure out how I could help them out and make their lives better.  It usually ended with me being shocked, injured, scarred, and with a feeling of great injustice.  Lies, accusations, leaving me feeling worthless, dejected, lonely, unloved.   My extreme hatred of them negatively affected me, both physically and emotionally.  Why would I be grateful to these dregs of society?  They taught me to love.  Crazy?  Maybe, but I became a happier person when I learned to forgive and move on with living my joyful life.

Forgiveness…sounds simple but is oftentimes so hard to actually fulfill.  Forgiveness is not about condoning bad behaviour.  Forgiveness is about letting go of the anger and the hate you live with.  Think about it this way, you are hurt and angry and cannot believe that someone you trusted would hurt you.  You hate them and want to ensure that they suffer as you did.  You obsess about it.  How do these spiteful, vengeful thoughts actually hurt them?  Do they care that you are hurting?  No.  Do they feel any of your pain?  No.  Who is actually hurting?  You.  You are holding venom inside you and only damaging yourself.  The ones who betrayed you don’t even think about how they treated you and really couldn’t case less about how you feel or what you think about them.  They used you and then removed you from their lives.  In forgiveness, you are actually freeing yourself.  You are going to let bygones be bygones and go on to live a happier life.  If anything, these transgressors will probably be even more upset to learn that you are happy and are not affected in any way by past incidents.  That is the “giving” part of forgiveness.  You are “giving” yourself freedom; to love, to trust, to find joy, and your own peace of mind.

Those that rejected me were there to teach me that I did not need their approval or love to exist in a happy life.  Loving myself was and is most important.  Letting their misdeeds go so that they didn’t affect me emotionally was critical to my future happiness.  Forgive and forget?  I would forgive.  The forgetting was not something that I would or could easily do.   I truly believed it was important to remember past misdeeds so that in future I wouldn’t fall into the same circumstance …a.k.a. “Life Lesson”.

Thank you to those wonderful people in my life, past and present, who have been there for me when I didn’t have the strength to live by own convictions and beliefs.  You held my hand and guided me out of the muck of negativity that was sucking me in.  You brought me to the surface and breathed new life into my soul.  Words really cannot express my gratitude for having you in my life.

Thank you to the leaches and the soul suckers who made my life miserable.  Your thoughtlessness and selfishness taught me that I am worthy of love from others and especially from myself.  You made me work harder to live my life in the polar opposite way that you live your life.  Thankfully, your kind has disappeared from my life and I am surrounded by beautiful spirits who appreciate goodness, kindness, happiness, and a joie to vivre.  Truly, without my trials and tribulations that you exposed me to, I would not be living the great life that I now live

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” ~C.S Lewis