Improvisational cooking is all about creativity and fun, experimentation and pleasure. It’s about gaining awareness of a recipe or dish and then allowing yourself to recreate it in a whole new way. To improvise is to inventory the ingredients on hand and playfully bringing them together into an edible (and hopefully tasty) meal.
The purpose of this post is to encourage the comments of others – to create a place to share ideas that you have used when you improvised in the kitchen. To get things rolling for the uninitiated, the following is a list of 5 ideas from a few expert improve cooks.
Use the comment area below to add to the conversation – and thanks for reposting and sharing this site – we will all gain from the sharing.
Five Tips For Improvising in the Home Kitchen
Figure out what flavors you like, and also which ones pair well together. But remember that not every ingredient tastes the same each time. Also, know what ingredients taste like before they are cooked — it will help you to spot the flavor in a dish. “Taste real sour cream and low-fat sour cream and describe the difference,” says author Sally Schneider. “A whole world of senses opened up,” which helps one know how to improvise with a dish.
Focus on Techniques
Using the right kind of oil or heating the pan to the right temperature is going to result in a better piece of meat than any amount of fancy spice rub or marinade, says NoRecipes.com’s Marc Matsumoto. Learn some of the basic skills, such as how to beat eggs or sauté vegetables, which you can apply to multiple dishes. Also, cook different vegetables and meats so you get a sense of cook time for various ingredients – this will come in handy when throwing together a sauté or adding extras to a pasta.
Learn to Make Versatile Bases
Most stocks and sauces that come out of a jar are easy and cheap to make. Cook yourself a big batch at home, and you can freeze it use in a variety of dishes. For example, instead of throwing away chicken bones, turn them into a broth that can then be made into a soup or used to make risotto or a flavorful pot of rice. Or make a marina sauce that can be used in a variety of pastas, pizza or egg dishes.
Beans are often interchangeable, cauliflower can usually take the place of broccoli, and chicken can many times replace pork. This is how new dishes are often created. Experiment!
Don’t be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Most every dish started out a mistake somewhere along the road, where someone threw ingredients together and adjusted to meet his or her own tastes, says cookbook author Mark Bittman. If you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never know what works — or not.
If I knew I was going to live this long
- If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.
- Mickey Mantle,(attributed) US baseball player (1931 – 1995)
- I’m not sure what other regrets a man like Mickey Mantle may have had at the end of his life, but this quote has deeper meaning than giving us a short chuckle. Wouldn’t it be great to go peacefully to your grave with no regrets and no remorse for what you meant to do or say and never got around to accomplishing. And since we have no idea when that time will come, the question needs to be restated: Wouldn’t it be great to never have a regret or be remorseful over something left unsaid or undone?
- Another, lighter way of saying it is – “If I had only (fill in the blank) sooner.”
- Not wanting to have any regrets, – this is not meant to be presented in a remorseful way, I am a firm believer that timing is everything and “when the student is ready the teacher will come”. Yet as a parent and coach I often find myself wanting to say “one day you are going to wish you had……..”
- So what is yours? For me it would be; If I had only appreciated my wife more in our early years together. If I had only not ridden the horse that day. If I had only spent a little more time listening and less time talking. (still can do that). If I had only written more notes to my family (still can do that too). If I had only learned sooner about healthy foods. If I had only spent more time reading and less time watching television. In fact there is very little that I can’t start doing right now. Not too old, not too weak, not too stubborn. Truth is – the only thing standing in the way is me. No Regrets, No Remorse. Just doing it. Borrowing some cliche’s and looking back with a smile.
“You are strong enough for another five minutes.”
A sign at the gym read – “You are strong enough for another five minutes.”
How true I thought, but I saw it on my way out, already showered and dressed for the day.
Had I seen that inspiration a half hour earlier I would have given it another 5. Maybe another machine, maybe another rep, maybe another muscle group.
Only later in the day did I recognize that my strength was something I used all day long.
Am I strong enough to stick to my morning project five minutes more before I took a break?
Could I make one more prospecting call? Am I strong enough to get that yard work done instead of relaxing after work today. Am I strong enough to finish reading that book I started so long ago. Do I have what it takes to write that letter to my son that I’ve only been thinking about.
The truth is everyone of us is stronger than we think. We can reach higher, hold our breath longer, push ourselves a little further, challenge ourselves a little more and in the end – Enjoy ourselves and our life a little deeper.
Where would be a good place to push yourself a little further – where would a stretch feel right?
Men need to join the battle against violence.
“Most men in their lives will not commit sexual violence,
but most acts of sexual violence are committed by men.”
There is a sad reality to that truth. Now add that a great percentage of mental illness is the result of abuse, either the abused or a witness of the abuse and we men should hang our head in shame.
If you found out it was your sister, wife or mother you’d probably get all macho and start talking about beatings or lawsuits, jail or the back alley. But just some other woman, the girl down the street, or the college student working in the file room, and we join the ranks of gossipers and guys that do nothing. We men should hang our head in shame.
The increase in violence & domestic abuse goes up during hard times. And we are in hard times. Chances are there are men you know, maybe even yourself, that are facing the strain of economics and job lose. The image we hold of ourselves is fragile and threatened. We don’t know where to turn for solutions or even someone who understands. If this is the case – I offer myself as a listening ear and a friend to turn to.
But this in no way lets anyone off the hook or excuses the use of violence to any degree what so ever. We will never see the end of violence against women unless men step up and do something. We need to hold our heads high and take a stand to support and defend.
Here’s a good article worth your time. Then add your comments here. Thank you.
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