I haven't been stretching myself too much culinary-wise recently. Cooking, which used to be a happy, lazy indulgence, has become rote. I found myself thinking not too long ago that there are a finite number of dishes which could be made. Almost immediately I realized how idiotic that sentiment is: it's like saying there are only seven notes so there's a finite number of compositions possible. My sentiment was driven more by the fact that I'd been making the same dishes week in and week out than any real truth. And one truth is: I've gotten lazy.
Time hasn't been in abundance of late and I wonder if my laziness to try something new, or my reluctance to really put my heart and soul into cooking anymore, is because I'm bored? Because it's easier to make the same dishes, the ones I know by heart, than to stretch myself with something else?
Oddly enough, where I have derived food joy is in reading cookbooks. And I'm always itching to try some of the fantastic recipes -- yet I don't. So this past weekend, I decided to reinvigorate myself and get back into the rhythm of my kitchen. I inventoried the fridge, the freezer(s) and the pantry, then went and consulted several of m cookbooks.
Martha Stewart has a new cookbook out. Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home is a collection of 52 complete menus -- appetizer, salad, entree and dessert, and divided by the seasons. I may have mixed feelings about her, but she has an extraordinary staff -- these are easy and outright tasty recipes.
Earlier this week we made the Chicken Marsala with Sage Polenta; a winning dish, very flavorful and very easy. Dinner tonight was Panfried Chicken and Lemon-Thyme Spoonbread (I elected to skip the wilted salad and raspberry dessert that accompanied the menu). I'm particularly appreciative of the fact that the recipes call for dark meat -- not just cheaper cuts but so much more flavorful!
Pug and Hoss both loved the panfried chicken although Hoss was much keener on the spoonbread than was Pug. I'm not quite sure how to feel about spoonbread, which is essentially a baked cornbread; it was moist, rich, and as the name suggests, spooned onto our plates. I loved the flavors but in some ways, the lemon-thyme notes lent more to dessert than to a savory side dish. I'd be curious to see how the spoonbread works as a dessert. The whole time I was eating, I kept thinking how lovely it'd go with vanilla ice cream.
I think maybe it's time to stop playing the same tune over and over just because I know it; and given the tomes lining the cookbook shelves, maybe it's time to learn an entire new repertoire; and somewhere in there, hopefully get my cooking (and blogging) groove back.