The Farmers’ Market. I don’t talk about it much anymore. It’s too painful.
But it continues. I’ve only been once or twice since winter settled in. I picked up a couple dozen eggs and some locally and organically raised meats. There’s not much else to choose from right now, as you can imagine. Some winter greens and root veggies, but not the abundance I had come to love (and depend on) all summer and fall.
Thus, I basically stopped cooking.
And then, it happened.
Maybe it was the addition of the perfect kitchen tool: A cast iron skillet.
Maybe it was the perfect raw ingredients: Peppers, carrots, broccoli, spinach.
Either way, I found my inspiration. After a couple months of cooking blah’s, last week I got back in the game.
I felt so lost after the fall harvest. I had become so accustomed to fresh veggies from the Farmers’ Market. Without that, I was uninspired and just plain sad. So to find fresh foods I could get excited about, I went to my favorite grocery store. They stock tons of fresh, organic produce through the winter, including a lot of local and in-season stuff, as well as USA produce (which can be hard to find in big stores). My spirit lifted a little as I picked out a few local apples, rutabaga, and winter greens.
My grocery list wasn’t built on meals; that method doesn’t work for me. It was all about essential ingredients. For me, I don’t like to stock my kitchen with specific ingredients for specific meals. I thrive on consistency, which means I work with my essentials: rice, beans, flour, milk, eggs, cheese, oil, butter, pasta, fresh produce, etc. (Sidebar: I keep some local meat and poultry on hand in the freezer but prepare it just 1-2 times a week working the leftovers into meals all week long.) And then I build everything from scratch.
I forgot how much I love doing that.
With a new cast iron skillet and real food in the house, I’m so glad to be back in the kitchen. I feel a lot more stable about cooking now. I’m feeling like, “I can do this. I don’t need fast food today.” I have moments at night that I think, “Hey, I think these ingredients would be great together.” Or “I think I can make some sort of creamy pasta dish with veggies. Like vegetable lasagna but without the lasagna aspect. Hmm….” The worst part is having to wait to actually create my brilliant (if I do say so myself) dish.
Cooking is a holistic experience for me. It fills me up to know that I’m feeding my family (all four of us) well. It connects me to the generations of women who created meals for their families. It gives me perspective and teaches me patience.
And somehow, I now find myself thanking God much more sincerely for the food that is before us at each meal.
Some fresh dishes we’ve whipped up lately:
- Veggie/sausage/rice stir fry
- Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
- Pumpkin alfredo pasta
- Cornbread (so yummy with honey)
- Homemade oatmeal/pecan bread (once a week)
- Tuna sandwiches with spinach
- Spinach, tomato, and cottage cheese salad
- Mac and cheese with broccoli and cauliflower
- Burritos – with beef, rice, peppers, spinach, sour cream, avacado, and beans on homemade whole-wheat tortillas
Have you found any culinary inspiration lately?