I’ve always admired people who cook by the “a little of this and a pinch of that” method. That’s never been me. I’ve always cooked by the book, literally, relying on a recipe for satisfactory results, and even then, success isn’t guaranteed. Besides being a first born with perfectionist tendencies, fear has kept me chained to following recipes…fear of failure and just as strong, fear of wasting food if the results are disastrous.
And yet…as my creative nature has asserted itself, the desire to be free from following a recipe has grown. Creative cooking has made it onto many wish lists the last few years. The turning point came when I adopted a plant based lifestyle.
Being plant based makes eating out a challenge. Until the Joplin area launches more restaurants that offer healthier options, preparing my meals at home is best for me. I don’t mind. In fact, the desires that I have long expressed, to cook more, to learn to cook more creatively, are being realized because of the need to eat at home.
I have learned much the last two years, about preparing healthy, nutritious meals. I’ve relied on Pinterest recipes, some that I’ve successfully adapted, and plant based cookbooks and publications. And gradually, inspired by the knowledge I’ve gained, I’ve dabbled a bit, throwing a few meals together that turned out well.
In the last month, something magical has happened, at least, for one who has been recipe bound, it is magical to me. I’m cooking intuitively. My body, which has become finely tuned to what it requires for optimal health, is guiding me.
My first creation was the cucumber tomato salad, with diced onion, lime juice and dill freshly picked from my garden. I realize that’s an easy meal…but what is exciting to me is how I created it. I didn’t look up a recipe. I didn’t search Pinterest. I listened to what my body said it needed, and then simply combined those ingredients. The salad is wonderful! I make it a couple of times a week.
What I’ve noticed is that I’m bypassing my logical brain, and receiving info from the area over my stomach called the solar plexus. There’s a reason we say we have “gut instincts”. That chakra is where we feel energy and sense into situations. My gut is guiding me as I cook.
Last night I spiralized zucchini, making raw zoodles. I didn’t have any jars of organic marinara sauce. I have a recipe for homemade marinara sauce, but it makes a huge amount and I didn’t have on hand big cans of tomato purée and tomato sauce. What I did have was a cup of left over tomato purée, along with a small can of tomato paste, a small can of whole organic tomatoes and an assortment of fresh veggies and herbs.
I chopped onion and red and green peppers and sautéed those in a little olive oil, along with minced garlic. That part was easy enough and very familiar to me. I had a chopped fresh tomato ready to add, along with the purée and the tomato paste, when an idea arose for the canned whole tomatoes. I dumped them into a mini food processor and blended them up. Voila! I had chunky tomato sauce.
When I was ready to add herbs, my brain tried to intervene. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Don’t you at least want to look up a recipe to see how much seasoning to add?? You don’t want to mess up what you’ve begun. I did hesitate for a few seconds. Fear of failure, fear of waste coiled and prepared to strike. And then I merrily dismissed the suggestion and banished the fears with a wave of my wooden spoon. I was having fun. I would add a little basil and oregano and sea salt and figure it out by the taste test.
The thrown together marinara sauce turned out great! It was delicious last night, over zucchini noodles. And it was equally delicious today when I spooned it over a plain baked potato. I added a serving of my cucumber tomato dill salad, for a colorful, healthy and oh so yummy lunch.
I’m ridiculously thrilled over these little recipe free creations. It’s big step for me, to be cooking without a net. I’ll be listening much more closely to my intuition, and less to my brain, when I’m playing in the kitchen. I’m excited to see what I cook up next.