Sometimes cooking sounds like a sentence of being shackled to the kitchen counter in a prom dress and pink pumps, and makes me want to run away screaming and wielding a knife. A food blog gives you a unique sense of time and cooking. I have realized, for instance, that the domesticity of making food currently gives me hives. Before the blog I simply would have shirked the cooking and ordered takeout, four weeks in a row. While I will never be a housewife angel, I also relish the audience and the gift of nourishing others. I love cooking, and learning, and creating, but hate constraints, habit, and tedious tasks. I move fast and need to keep learning. I rarely put things in my mouth I don’t like, regardless of whether it’s food, ideas, or labels. But if I don’t love to cook all the time, how can I expect anyone else to?
When you’re me, you use making food as a means of personal expression. And if you take this too literally, your dishes become your “creations.” This can be delicious in good times, but a total starving nightmare when you’re just not feeling inspired. Because when your creativity is so deeply coupled with something vital to life, well, you’re just asking for it. You’re just begging for the omelette to fall like slop out of the pan, for the mayonnaise to break and spill all over itself, and for everything you make to just not be good enough.
Because it’s not about the dishes you create that are so important, but the process itself. It’s about the eating and the company. It’s about your style, the ingredients that inspire you, and the way you feel about food. The preparation or “cooking” is how that all comes together and changes you and those who eat your food.
Well in the midst of not wanting to go anywhere near the kitchen I got a visit from my mother and a heaping box of produce. And what changed? The ingredients. The second those fresh, furry heart-shaped leaves of oregano were in my hand, I knew I could cook again, and needed to. I knew that there was nothing more important than getting those ingredients into mine and Matt’s bodies in the most delightful but simple way possible. They had been grown with the utmost love, and we ate them with the utmost joy. Today, after my long hiatus, I implore you to head to your local greenmarket, vegetable stand, local park, farm, backyard, or wherever, and pick some ingredients to take home and love. Summer’s a comin!
Simple, simple, garden salad
4 sprigs herbs, washed and stems removed – oregano, mint, tarragon, basil, verbena
Spring alliums, washed and with large pieces ripped coarsely – a handful of chives chives, a few scapes, a spring onion
3 small bunches of greens, washed – green leaf, red leaf, arugula, radicchio, watercress, spinach, sorrel
A couple ounces of a fresh cow or goat cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1 spring onion, sliced thinly (stalk can be used in place of herbs above)
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Assemble the lettuce, herbs, alliums, and spring onion in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together the garlic, dijon mustard, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Top the salad with cheese, pour over the dressing, and toss. Savor with a good hunk of bread and some olive oil.