I love the creativity that’s linked with cooking. I so admire chefs and people who just “whip something up” in the kitchen. I’m an okay cook, but nothing amazing. Yet I seem to be drawn to this form of creative expression.
I was happy to draw this activity today:
Create a new recipe.
This was especially serendipitous because late this afternoon, in between my last two appointments for the day, I visited Robertson Family Farm, south of Joplin, with my mom and sister, Linda. Grabbing buckets, we moved together in between rows of bushes, picking luscious ripe blueberries.
Back home with three pounds of blueberries, I knew I wanted to create a dessert using these delicious berries. Tonight I assembled ingredients in the kitchen, realizing what I was really doing was creating a dish without using a recipe.
I used to love standing next to one of my grandmothers, an oversized apron wrapped around me, watching as she cooked. I don’t know if I ever saw Granny Grace or Grandma Mildred use a recipe. I’m sure as young brides they must have. However both were seasoned cooks by the time I was old enough to pull up a chair to stand on as I watched them create their magic. They threw in a cup of this, a spoonful of that and a pinch of salt, or some aromatic spice, and the results were always wonderful.
I, on the other hand, have always relied on cookbooks. Or more recently Google to pull up an online recipe for any dish imaginable. Other than recipes I’ve memorized through repetition, I haven’t had the confidence to throw a little of this and that into a bowl to get a delicious result. Tonight, I was determined to create, without a net…no recipe in sight, no Google search to save me. How hard could it be?
Here is my step by step process for Blueberry Surprise:
I started with 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries in a mug. I added a sprinkle of cinnamon and a small spoonful of brown sugar and mixed well. I deliberately avoided using standard measuring spoons.
In a glass measuring cup I combined a heaping spoonful of baking mix (Bisquick is a common brand), a heaping spoonful of rolled oats, a small spoonful of brown sugar, two drops of vanilla and threw in a handful of chopped pecans. After mixing well, I cut in a blob of butter, stirring with a fork until the mixture was crumbly.
I topped the blueberries with the oat mixture and popped the mug into the microwave. Cooking for 30 seconds at a time, I checked the dessert after each interval, watching for the blueberry mixture to bubble up. It did, requiring one minute and 30 seconds total cooking time. I have to say, the Blueberry Surprise smelled wonderful.
This was fun. This pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was tempted to reach for my cell phone and Google a recipe, to make sure I was doing it “right”. The perfectionist in me always wants my final result to be right. My inner artist, my creative child, snorts at that and whispers, “What’s the worst that can happen? So what if it’s a blueberry mess.”
And that was the surprise part, in Blueberry Surprise. Would it be a disaster? Would it be edible? It was. It was delicious. I felt a bit like the little red hen, making something from food I picked myself. I learned tonight to let go of the outcome and perfection and rely on what I do know about cooking. I enjoyed not being precise. I chuckled at myself as I threw ingredients together.
I could imagine my grandmothers standing with me, one on either side, smiling approvingly and giving each other a look. “She did it. She made a this and that dessert. Good girl.” They were my inspirations. I wish I could give each of them a taste of my yummy Blueberry Surprise.