Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cooking at home is therapeutic...

How can cooking at home be therapeutic? Its comforting in a way that may not be so apparent. It calms the soul stirring the creative imagination that sings to the spirit...This is especially good for us when faced with the daily stresses of life, let alone during extreme weather conditions as we have now in the North and Midwest.

When you cook at home you should always cook what you like and keep it simple by not getting all tied up in this or that recipe. Why? Following a recipe 'going by the book' is often stressful and you can end up buying and using ingredients as well as spices/seasonings that you will likely never use again. And, worse yet when it does not turn out as it was suggested.

The Brainy Gourmet has always advocated to keep a simple basic pantry stock and go from there. And, I have always said that soup is a good place to start being brainy. Soup is not stew in my book and soup can not be thick because of it is you have either porridge of stew.

Soup should be treated as a starter but it can be the main meal if you serve bread with and a meat (usually that which can be taken out of the soup stock). Soup should have liquid so that you can dunk the bread. And, whenever you make a stock using whatever meat or vegetable base you prefer, always strain out the meat/vegetables and never add small vegetables to it unless you are on the last days of the stock.

You see, once added, it is often very difficult to strain out smaller bits like peas and corn. Also, never add rice or pasta or even potatoes to the stock; unless, its the last day of the stock and you are going to make potato soup. Once you add potatoes, pasta or rice to a big pot of stock, that's it... you have a big pot of either potato, rice or noodle soup.

You want the stock to morph into different soups all week long. And, that has been demonstrated here on the Brainy Gourmet over the years. But, if you are a first timer here, consider making a meat/veg. stock. Once you have, strain out the meat (large piece of pork shoulder or beef or a whole chicken). Strain out any vegetables (left long i.e. carrots/celery/leek) and set aside. Now, you are ready to create the first soup of the week.

If you boiled a chicken and have decided you want chicken noodle, stain out the chicken and vegetables, boil noodles on the side and serve to individual bowls to which bits of diced chicken and vegetables (that which was strained out) can be added; again, to the bowl and not the pot.

Tomorrow, that same stock can become another kind of soup or used to cook a dish, even a stir fry or to make a gravy. When you cook in this way, you are in charge as you base your kind of cooking on your taste buds, your food preferences, your creative imagination... don't be a slave to recipes and foodie hype. Be a Brainy Gourmet!!!!!!!!

*When going it alone or free from the strictness of recipes, rely on: touch, sight, smell, and taste as your best tools to use when cooking at home. Just ask any high level chef 'they don't use recipes, they create them'!

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