Most of my friends know that I love experimental cooking. I don't know if it's because I felt set free in my Third Life, or if it's always been inside of me. I get into some sort of "zone"...a place where I can just shut everything out and it's just me and the foodie elements before me. It's my therapy; it's my go-to when I'm tired, stressed, sick, etc.
This New Year's weekend, I've been down with a cold. I bought a whole chicken, some orange juice and (yes, gasp!) a bag of frozen soup vegetables. Being sick, I didn't feel like chopping up a lot of veggies and doing my usual "kitchen witchery", so I threw the chicken into a crockpot, added some onions, garlic, some seasonings, and then the frozen vegetables and a few noodles in towards the end. This concoction suited me just fine for what I needed at the moment on a cold, WY day/night.
Every once in a while, I do a "Refrigerator Day". I do an assessment of the contents of my messy fridge and freezer...throw out the old, replenish with the new. My Mom and Dad had something called the "Rotting Drawer". Old vegetables, potatoes, etc. that never made it into final dishes or meals. When it comes to my own "rotting drawer", I try to salvage as much as possible and make some kind of soup or..."something". I had bought and dried so many herbs and spices that sat in dishes and jars, waiting for their moment to shine.
So when I assessed my fridge, freezer and cupboards this New Year's weekend, I was actually surprised at how many ingredients I had bought so much of, but never used. Always thinking, "I'm gonna make this" or that...but never did.
This cold...this sickness, this down-time...gave me some time to think as I assessed not only my foodie habits, but my Life. That everything requires Balance. Like when I go into a grocery store (like a kid in a toy store) with the best of intentions, but come out with ingredients that may or will sit in a drawer or on a shelf. Not necessarily unwanted, just unused.
It made me think about my own Life and Balance. For example, I love garlic. But I've created dishes where there is just too much of it. I love various herbs and spices; I love my own signature-infused oils and vinegars. I love fresh butter, heavy cream...rich, flavorful sauces. But I've learned that too much of something in anything doesn't necessarily work in the end.
The take-away? It's about Balance.
My work week literally dominates my time. There's so much in EMS that goes on, that the public...and to tell the truth, even our very own EMS Providers...don't quite understand. Things that happen behind the scenes that just a handful of us have to juggle..and at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. Add on my community projects, and I'm pretty spent. It's often too much.
This New Year, my main goal is to achieve Balance in my life. I have family and friends I want to have coffee or lunch with, and that's important. I have projects of my own that I'd like to do, and that's important. I have down-time and health issues that I need to tend to, and that's important. Balance in my mental, spiritual, political, social and economic life is important.
The demands of everyday life affect us all in so many different ways. But I feel that we need to stand up for what is important to us in our "Every Day". If it means we need time to tend to our families and relationships, that's what it means. If it means that some sort of project has to wait, that's what it means. If it means taking time out to listen and help with someone's crisis or drama, that's what it means. So if too much of any spice or herb can spoil a dish, too much of anything can spoil a Life...and I sure don't want to find myself in the "Rotting Drawer". LOL
Today, I made a batch of hummus (pictured below). Some don't like it, and I get that. But I do. I usually put a lot of garlic in (because I like it, LOL), but today I achieved some Balance and put in just a little garlic, a few artichoke hearts, one sun-dried tomato, some salt and pepper and a bit of lemon juice. Taste, taste, taste...and the result was amazing!
I also made some beef jerky (also pictured below) with Hi Mountain Seasoning's Hunter's Blend jerky package. I didn't veer away and do my own thing (as tempting as it was, LOL)...I followed the directions to the very tee, and WOW! Again, the result was amazing! My Three Wolves were smacking their jowls!
Granted, there are the trieds and trues that you should never mess with. Hi Mountain's directions would be an example. Plus, I would never assume to ever "improve" on my Mom's chili, my Grandma Lund's biscuits, my Dad's pancakes, my Grandma Starks' oatmeal cookies. That would be sacrilegious; those are the generational, sacred pillars of Wisdom!
There's a difference between mere advice and Wisdom. So as I forge through this New Year (like I have with so many before), I can only hope that I am more mindful of the Wisdom imparted and Balance achieved, and that I can apply those virtues to my everyday Life.
Even if it means throwing everything into a pot and calling it good!