While hovering over the pot of cooking potatoes for this dish (hovering because potatoes go from perfect to mushy in seconds), I thought about a comment from a recent conversation. What I understood from the speaker was that she passed by the farmers’ market because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to buy without a recipe in hand. When we have company, I plan carefully and shop with menus in hand so I can enjoy our visitors. For everyday? I tend to just wing it. When it works, winging it can be delicious, but when it doesn’t, I am glad we are eating late because the patio table is dimly lit and we are just too hungry to fuss.
For this home cook inspiration comes from: food magazines, blogs and shows; restaurant menus; tradition or “my mother made this when...”; community, as in,”will you share this recipe with me?”; whatever is fresh at the farm stand and my children’s shared kitchen endeavors.
I do have some basic tools in the kitchen so that “winging it” works out more often than not.
A well stocked pantry allows me to have flexibility. Our short list includes vinegars, salts, citrus, spices, capers, anchovy/anchovy paste, tomato paste, hard cheese, home canned broths, ginger, curry paste, hot sauces, fish sauce, garlic, and tamari.
The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is a wonderful reference where you can search for flavors compatabile your particular ingredients, regional flavor profiles and recipe suggestions.
Good equipment. Although I am often reluctant to buy new things for the kitchen, I have added an Instapot, a spiralizer attachment for my mixer and a thin slicing blade for my food processor. I have used all but the blade at least once a week since I purchased them so they have earned their places on the shelf. Included on the usual list of kitchen tools, parchment paper and pans, is a drawer full of “food towels” for drying just washed vegetables and fruits.
And last but not least, I have a family and group of friends willing to be adventurous, appreciative and kind when eating at our table.