My method of cooking is like painting by numbers. I follow recipes to the tee, (tsp and Tbsp inclusive). I don’t think this makes me a ‘real cook’, someone who boldly invents, estimates and improvises.
I’ve a dear friend just like this, a ‘Creative Cook’, only she more often than not ‘uncooks’; a word I recently heard to describe the task of preparing raw food meals. This sounds simple enough, right? Toss a salad or plate some colourful crudités perhaps?
Not so, because I think a ‘real cook’ also needs to show some serious commitment to creating enticing, wholesome meals with as much uncompromising regularity as us mothers and homemakers do. (No flitting in, making a huge impression once in a blue moon, thank you very much!)
So it stands to reason that finding creative ways to keep meals, cooked or uncooked, interesting, three times a day, seven days a week, must involve a handful of powerful surprises. And this is where my ‘Creative Uncook’ unleashes her secret wonderment, spices!
The freedom of being able to toss in a little of this, and sprinkle a little of that into spontaneously created meals, is beautiful to watch.
I realise too that ‘real cooks’ actually sample their food while cooking, instead of relying on recipe success. Until recently, eating didn’t necessarily mean truly tasting my food, let alone sampling it in the making. Contrary to ‘Creative Uncook’ who sees every meal preparation and sit-down occasion as an opportunity to experiment, discover, analyse and discuss the refinement and combination of ingredients.
As if I needed any further confirmation of my apparent kitchen shortcoming, last week, while tackling a kitchen cupboard clean out, I threw out spices with an expiry dating back to early 2010.
The good thing is that by eating far more plant-based foods, my taste buds have been retuned, my palette cleaned, and a new respect, awareness and gratitude for what’s on my plate, ignited. With this fresh start to each meal, together with a well-stocked assortment of spices, and the inspiration of ‘Creative Uncook’, I’ll be spicing things up a bit!
I also know now that, aside from colour and taste enhances, spices are some of nature’s most powerful healers! Here’re just a couple of the health benefits to five of my favourites;