“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
When are we ever really alone? For me I don't know that I ever really am, I bring the memories of those near and dear to me everywhere I go, especially in the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen, it brings back so many memories every time. I feel my grandmother when I wear her old aprons into the kitchen and use her old cookbooks, or my mother when I alter yet another one of her classic recipes. (Sorry Mom) Or remember all the time I spend pouring through magazines and cookbooks when I try a new creation. There is always an excitement in the air. I love cooking, and I love creating new things. And I love cooking for the people I love.
What makes a great cook? What makes a great recipe? I always think that is a hard thing to judge, but one can always taste when something is made with love. Lately I have been thinking alot about sharing your talents with others, using your skills to benefit others. When I was younger I was a little wary of cooking, I was so worried of making mistakes and creating a disaster. Every amazing cook I know has more disastrous mishaps then they can count. Go for it, don't be afraid to mess it up, as trite as it sounds there is no other way to learn. Cooking is work, it can be a pleasure to, but of course to become skilled at anything one must practice. I know I sound like your mother when she was reminding you to practice the piano before dinner. I remember those days too, and I will admit I can't play the piano to save my life, but I can cook. I mention this because sometimes I do regret that I didn't put more effort into learning how to play, that I didn't practice more. For whatever reason my heart was not in it.
I guess that is where passion comes in. When you have passion for something it ceases to be a chore and becomes an opportunity, something fun, something almost magical. At least that is the way I feel about cooking. Sometimes I feel as though I find myself in the kitchen, in life I can be cautious, afraid of making mistakes, unsure of myself, and always second guessing. None of that happens in the kitchen, it really is a liberating place for me, and I am so grateful for that. Through working and re-working recipes I have learned its okay to make mistakes, mistakes are a part of the process. I can not explain why, but the kitchen is one place where I never feel stressed, I have had to cook for hundreds before but somehow in my apron and in front of the stove I feel serene and relaxed, I feel in my element.
Every one has their element, for a cousin of mine that is on the stage performing, which nothing could cause greater fear in my soul than doing that. For some it is on the basketball court, me being five feet even, I think I will cross that off my list as well. My element creating in the kitchen and sharing my love of cooking with others. Pretty much everything I cook is my own creation. Of course I look at cookbooks as sources of inspiration, but I find immense satisfaction in dreaming up a concoction in my mind and making it a reality in the kitchen.
This is one of my newer creations, a friend of mine is having an Indian food potluck this weekend, and will be borrowing this recipe, I hope she likes it as much as I do. Its a great recipe, served hot or cold, and your kitchen will smell amazing when you make it. I love being able to share my recipes with you, enjoy!
Mango Sticky Rice
3 cups sticky rice, soaked overnight in water or thinned coconut milk and drained
2 cups coconut milk (canned is fine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 ripe mangoes (almost slightly overripe)
Steam the sticky rice until tender
Heat coconut milk in saucepan over medium heat until hot. Do not let boil. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely.
When the sticky rice is tender, turn it out into a bowl and pour 1 cup of the hot coconut milk over; reserve the rest. Stir to mix the liquid into the rice, then let stand for 45 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
Thinly slice the mangoes crosswise
To serve place an mound of sticky rice on each dessert plate and place a sliced half-mango beside it. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs. Stir the remaining sweetened coconut milk thoroughly, transfer to a small serving bowl, and pass it separately, with a spoon, so guests can spoon on extra as they wish.