I was reminded recently by dear friend of mine that three short years ago, I basically only had three recipes I could (or would) make: tacos, pasta with homemade sauce, and mushroom and spinach lasagna. I laugh to think of it now, but she was absolutely right! I spent most of my adult life completely lacking Kitchen Confidence. I wasn’t sure how to choose a recipe, I didn’t know which flavors and foods worked together well, and most of all, I didn’t know how to fix a recipe that turned out less than satisfying.
Developing Kitchen Confidence has been a journey for me. I began by following tried and true recipes at the Doctor Yum Project as the Cooking Programs Coordinator, and gained some awareness of those specific flavors and seemingly uncomplicated combinations. I began to pay attention when others cooked, asked questions, tried their recipes at home. I watched countless videos online with topics as varied as Raw Food Desserts, Pressure Cooking for Pros, How to Eat a Rutabaga and so many more. I watched The Food Network, printed out thousands of recipes, and saved recipes on Pinterest. I borrowed more cookbooks from the library than I can remember. I found websites that gave solid recipes that would be easy to experiment with and share. In other words, I was determined to figure this out!
Fortunately for you, you don’t have to repeat my years of effort, even if you are lacking Kitchen Confidence. That’s one of the many things that can be done with small, consistent steps and attainable goals. I usually start someone with something simple but delicious that is normally purchased instead of made at home, like hummus or salad dressing. Those recipes tend to be a doorway that opens up a new thought, ‘If I can make hummus this amazing, what else can I make?’ It’s a great adventure that I continue every day. I now love to cook and no longer dread the idea of company for dinner! Now I look forward to seeing that special look of surprise and delight on the faces of my guests when they sample a recipe I’ve created.
Kitchen Confidence is trusting yourself to choose great recipes, fix what isn’t working, or just be able to use what you have in the pantry and refrigerator to make something nourishing, delicious and quick.
How many times have you stood in your kitchen at 6 p.m. and wished you could just whip something up? It’s possible, I promise!
One of the most forgiving recipes that I have in my recipe binder is called Soup for Days. It began as a black bean soup but over the years, it has developed into more of a bean and veggie stew. When my kids were younger, I pureed it. That allowed me to put lots and lots of vegetables in the soup and still make it inviting for all members of my family. Now that they are older, and love almost every vegetable I put in front of them, I leave it chunky. There is nothing like a big chunk of sweet potato or portobella mushroom that has been simmering in thick, rich broth for hours. It feels more respectful to the vegetables to me to leave them whole so their individual flavors remain intact. For me, the thought and consideration that goes into making the soup are just as nourishing and important as the vitamins and minerals it provides. Knowing that I choose healthy ingredients and then lovingly crafted the soup for my family gives me a powerful feeling of satisfaction and contentment. For me, it feels like love!
Soup for Days
I call this Soup for Days because it’s a lot of soup! You may want to half the recipe or freeze a portion of it. My family tends to enjoy it for two to three meals, so I freeze at least 1/3 of the pot after it has simmered and cooled to room temperature. It’s a great soup for dipping corn chips or a nice thick, hearty bread. And remember, you can add any other vegetables or beans that you like! You can also add meat, Parmesan cheese or any other spice that appeals to you. This is a very forgiving soup and great for building your Kitchen Confidence!
I often use the early morning to organize my thoughts into paragraphs. And sometimes into recipes.