Cooking with Idioms

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Chocolate Ganache Tart & Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, photo by CGIOS

When life hands you gargoyles, make snickerdoodles. Okay, so that’s not really how that saying goes, but sometimes it feels just that way. I will admit, much to my own dismay, that on occasion I spiral down. And I admit that asking for help, or rather support, has always been difficult for me, so I don’t usually. What works best is taking the focus off of myself and finding a way to meditate by participating in and focusing on a process of some sort.

Luckily, I enjoy cooking. When in the kitchen with a glass of wine (my glass is half full if it’s white and half empty if it’s red), scratch ingredients, and music playing, I find my voice both literally while singing along and metaphorically through the scientific process of creating food.

The problem is I cook more than I can chew. I’m not a big eater and I never have been, except when it comes to the guilty pleasure that is ice cream of course. Usually, my eyes are MUCH bigger than my stomach.

So why do I like cooking so much if I don’t always eat the food? I love giving food away to people who enjoy eating. Feeding people makes me feel good about the world, especially when I’m giving them food that starts from the basics. I recognize the energy and love I put into the process, no matter how bad the final dish turns out, and I know the ingredients are real. There’s no list of 20 unpronounceable mystery ingredients stickered to the package. If people eat the food and smile, even better if they ask for the recipe, then it’s a good day.

Birds of a feather…. My friend Jen is a master of food as gifts. She made brilliant marshmallows, a jar of make-it-yourself soup, and caramels as holiday gifts three years in a row.

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Thai Pistachio Muffins, photo by CGIOS

Some tips when gifting food:

1. Mix it up. People can get tired of baked goods every Monday. (Hard to believe, but there is too much of a good thing.) Try muffins, cookies, berries (sometimes less is more as I learned when I brought in freshly picked blackberries to the office), stuffed pears, etc. Be creative.

2. Careful with the allergies. Make sure you know if anyone is allergic to anything and always label foods. My inclination is to not give away food if I’m not sure. I don’t want to put someone’s life in danger.

3. Feed people with food you make and gather. The goal is not to unload that extra box of Girl Scout cookies you didn’t really want, two-month old Halloween candy, or a relative’s holiday cookies on the resident office goat (you know who you are).

4. Cook for soup kitchens, for busy friends and family (a death in the family or a new baby are appropriate occasions to help out), for gifts, celebrations, game nights, etc.

5. Have fun! Occasionally the grass IS greener on the other side, so get to that greener side with a spatula in hand and a sense of adventure. After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking the eggs.

stuffed pears

Stuffed Pears, photo by CGIOS

 

Melting on the Strawberries

Photo by CGIOS

On this past sweltering Saturday, we decided to head out of town to Larriland Farms to pick some fruit. It’s so rewarding to gather your own fruits and vegetables and then cook them into meals and treats. Food always tastes better to me when I know I’ve really worked for it. And oh the tasty possibilities of a simple strawberry!

The farm is well-organized. You can check their web site, updated daily, to find out if the current picking conditions will make your trip worthwhile. When you arrive, people guide you to your row and provide clear instructions on how to pick the fruit. If you don’t finish your row, someone will mark where you stopped. Then you take your box of goods up to an outdoor register and pay with cash or credit cards.

This is a great activity for families and anyone who enjoys harvesting their own foods.

Do this:

  • Wear a large-rimmed hat to keep the sun off your face.
  • Wear cool clothing because you will sweat. A lot.
  • Bring a water bottle and drink the water.
  • Make sure to put sunscreen on every area exposed, including the little space on your back where your shirt might ride up if you bend over (maybe speaking from experience here). You don’t want to end up looking like a strawberry!

In under an hour, we collected two full boxes of strawberries (27 pounds)! We brought our strawberries back to the city. Some were used to make strawberry muffins. Some were used for strawberry shortcake, served at a board game night. I just cashed in my flight miles for an ice cream maker. So ice cream is next. And I’m giving strawberries away by the bag full, since I admittedly picked more than I can chew.

Photo by CGIOS

Cook these:

Strawberry Ice Cream (All Recipes)

Strawberry Muffins (Food.com) Note: A lot of people like to write in adjustments underneath the recipes. I used this as is and the muffins are fantastic.

Strawberry Lemon Shortcake (Food Network)

Strawberry Cupcakes (All Recipes)

Can’t wait to go back for blueberries in June! I’m sure by the end of this week, I won’t want to see another strawberry until next year.