Getting Creative and Versatile in the Kitchen

Unless I’m trying to make a very specific dish, I usually do not cook with recipes.  And when I am cooking something, I typically don’t know what I am going to make until I am actually making it. How is that possible?  I put A and B together hoping that C will come out on the other end, and it usually does.  If you still don’t understand, we can start with listing the food groups:

1. Starch

2. Protein

3. Vegetables – Non-green

4. Vegetables – Green

5. Fruit

I try to have at least three of these groups represented in each dish I make for lunch or dinner to have a complete meal.  Now on to flavors:

1. Sweet

2. Savory

3. Spicy

4. Salty

5. Bitter

6. Sour

I try to have fun combining at least two flavors in each dish.  How is this done?  Good quality ingredients.  For instance, if I want a savory stew that’s slightly sweet, I’ll add an ingredient that I know is inherently sweet, like carrots.

Another way to become more versatile in your cooking is by exposing yourself to different foods. When you go out to eat, don’t get the same dish all the time.  Try something new.  Take a chance. You may be surprised at what your taste buds discover.  Have an idea of what you want to make, but you’ve never made it before?  The answer: Watch cooking shows.  Whether it’s on PBS, YouTube, FoodNetwork, or anything else, watching a cooking method repeatedly will give you an idea of what SHOULD happen when you attempt the method yourself.  When you make the attempt and mess up, guess what?  It’s okay.  Figure out what you did wrong and try again the next time around. Being a home cook is truly trial and error.  Think of it like an athlete.  You constantly practice just to be ready for game time.  You work out the kinks before you have an audience.  It’s no different with cooking.

 

    -Dr. G