Well dear Reader, it has happened... I cannot see...
I cannot see when I chop.
I cannot see when I cook.
I cannot see when I get dressed or do my hair... Just ask my kids!
What have I done about this? Purchase three different types of glasses and a bigger purse of course!
Now hold on a minute! Wait just a hot second! Let me clarify something... I can see to do all the things I do, I just cannot see as clearly as I used to see. I do not require glasses to drive by law for example, I just keep my distance glasses in the car to "crisp" things up a bit. I do not "require" glasses for reading either, that is unless I actually want to read... What? I tried progressive lenses but they did not work for me.
The most inconvenient part about all this eye changing stuff is it affects me in the kitchen.
I am sort of tall and I do not know what has happened to my house but the counter gets a little further away each day... It is a good thing I have strong knife skills because it is difficult to see when I chop. The counter is just the right height that makes it difficult to see. My mid-range glasses are just a hair too strong to be able to use... (I remember when my reading glasses were too strong... those were the days...) Besides, if correct chopping technique is applied, it can almost be done in the fuzz. ( I am NOT promoting OR encouraging this!)
Is there a moral to this tale? Yes. The moral is, don't let little changes prevent you from doing what brings you joy. (Stay with me...)
If your knees hurt. Exercise to build the muscles around them to help with the pain. If your eyesight is changing. Gget the right equipment (glasses) and develop skills (culinary skills) to make doing activities smarter and easier. If your hands and shoulders and back hurt, again, exercise, stretch, practice... Soon, you will find the progressive change in your body has spurred a progressive change in activity until the the changes are developed into skill. See? THERE is the moral of this tale!
Every morning I go exploring in my yard. I go exploring for dew drops and sunshine. (Sunshine is not always an easy "explore" here in the East, especially this summer...) I go exploring for things to eat like herbs, fruits and/or vegetables. I go exploring for birds. (In return, the birds serenade me through my explore.) Mostly, I go exploring for inspiration.
Nature has so much to offer us. Mostly She offers us up inspiration and the opportunity to create something from nothing. In this last respect, Nature is like cooking. We get an inspiration (the something in this scenario) and create food (in plain English, the nothing in this scenario.) Say WHAT Mary? You're thinking, 'Did I just read that correctly?' Did Mary really just say food is nothing?!? Yep. Yepper. Yes. Yes-a-roonie. Yah. Ne. Right-y-o. YES! Food is nothing until someone, YOU namely comes along, gets inspired and turns it into something. Get it?
Now, before you go getting upset with me, let me finish. Food, is beautiful. Pure and simple.
The way a pot gently simmers and bubbles form and curl about the edge. Poetry.
The way a late summer peach is, well, peachy, in the sunlight. Gorgeous.
The way the fragrance of a food can make you call your family because the smell triggered a memory. Pricelessly perfect.
But, lets face it, food is nothing special until we make it into something special or present it as special.
Here is an example. I love fruit. Not just because it is delicious but because of the memories wrapped up in fruit. When I was young, my brothers and I were presented with fruit as dessert. My father would grab a plate of fresh apples, watermelon, peaches or plums from my grandparents tree or strawberries from the local stand and dole out slices to us in delicious little bites. Just fruit of the season. Not candied up or dipped in anything. Fruit. In fact, we fought over the last slices! Can you imagine? Children fighting over fruit! Not fighting over the last cookies mind you, fighting over fruit. Beautiful! Memory made. Fruit elevated to something...
See? Food is nothing until it is made into something. That is the gift of food preparation and cooking. Challenge yourself today to find inspiration with a fearless heart.
Challenge yourself now to go outside and find inspiration in the "everyday". Maybe sunshine on the water in your garden (and its gifts) will challenge you to make soup such as gazpacho vichyssoise. Maybe a bird's song will challenge you to find out who is in your yard and get to know them better. Maybe, just maybe, you will learn something new along the way... I guarantee your spirit will be lifted, even if the great inspiration your garden gives you is to order take out!
Diples are a scrumptious Greek delicacy that are, like all Greek pastries, labor intensive and utterly addictive! I mean, I ask you... What were these women thinking? Knead oil into a dough, roll it thin, roll as the dough is frying and then drizzle it with honey, cinnamon and finely ground walnuts. (The walnuts are optional in our home since we are allergic.) Sounds pretty delicious doesn't it? Well, they are! They are also, work!
Like all good things, the effort is worth the outcome. I had my mother's "taste memories" of her Yaya's (Greek for Grandmother) to help as well as my own taste memories of Greek festivals and of a recent trip to Greece where my daughter Alyssa and I recently went. Alyssa and I wandered into a glorious bakery where pastries were displayed in jewelry cases and priced accordingly. There was a stack of diples piled high and glistening with honey. We purchased some to bring home and shared them with her sister Mia and my husband Russell. I am proud to say my diples looked and tasted spot on!
If you would like to give them a twirl, visit my recipe page. Drizzle them with honey, sprinkle them with cinnamon and enjoy the goodness! I also posted a "how to" video on my Facebook page that might be helpful. (Simply follow the link on this site.) If you try the recipe, please post your pictures there! I would LOVE to see your efforts!
Here is the flaky and tender diples ready to be shamelessly popped in some lucky mouth!
I recommend a light dusting of a mild cinnamon.
First of all, let me just say, filming for the contest was more difficult than I imagined. I thought, given the fact I have been appearing on live television for several years, I could just waltz in and "film." Boy oh boy was I wrong! "Filming" a show, is a LOT harder than it looks. I worked with a friend and together, with our spouses, we put together a nice package of a 2 minute show that the PBS Create TV panel of judges: Sara Moulton, Steven Raichlen, Bridget Lancaster, Julia Collin Davison, Lidia Bastianich, Kevin Belton and Cynthia Fenneman, deemed professional and informative to place among the winners. We shot from many angles, wrote the voice over and worked on the editing until it was timed just right. I think Israel Alejandro and I make a pretty good team and did well for a first attempt! I hope you find the video fun and helpful.
I also want to add that just knowing this team of illustrious chefs "viewed" our little show was a thrill!
I hope you follow the link to the contest posted below and subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel for other cooking videos. Here is the link to my channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx1d5aJV6wP52Y-Gp1h_f7Q
I have always wondered why it is people are afraid of or don't like to cook... I mean, seriously, how can a person NOT like to cook? I ask you?
First of all, "cooking" is a noun. (I bet you did not know that!) I find this interesting. Why is this interesting to me? Because "cooking" is not a verb. "Cooking" is "food that has been prepared in a particular way." See? I find most people say they 'don't cook' because it is too much 'work' or they 'don't know how' or they don't 'like to cook.' How can you 'not like' a measly little noun? "Cooking" is just sitting there, minding its own business when WHAM-O! Some person starts beating it up and knocking it about! I implore you! PLEASE! Give "cooking" a chance!
Secondly, "cooking" is the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing and (/or) heating ingredients. (Keep this to yourself, but, "ingredients" is code for food. Don't you feel like a Secret Agent?)
So, "cooking" is a skill. A SKILL people! A "skill" is the ability to do something. The ability to DO something! In what universe is 'the ability to do something' scary or un-likable? The ability to do something (in most cases, anything) is both awesome and likable! Heck! 'stupid people tricks' is an entire genre! Think turning your eyelids inside out or patting your head and rubbing your tummy... Either way, "awesome" and "likable" are both pretty excellent adjectives for people to associate with you don't ya think?
There is one more reason why people are afraid of cooking and/or do not like cooking or believe it is too much work; it is the proverbial 'elephant in the room' and I'm just going to say it, "reality" cooking shows.
"Reality" cooking shows are silly, un-realisitic and at best, ridiculous! You know the ones I am referring to here... The shows with the words "War" or "Battle" in them. You see, "war" and "battle" are nouns, yes, but both are nouns defined by words like "conflict" or "fight" or "armed." "Reality" cooking shows change our mindset about cooking. Cooking is a loving and kind act, not a "war" or "battle." The equipment in your kitchen, from the apron to the chef's knife and the refrigerator to the stove and dishwasher is there to help you if you simply get in the kitchen and acquire a bit of skill.
So, conquer your fear and suspend your dislike of cooking long enough to get in your kitchen and get you some 'SKILL!' I promise, only good things will come from acquiring the skill of cooking. What is the worst thing that can happen? Maybe the ingredients you combine do not look exactly like the picture. SO WHAT! Maybe you free wheel it because you have oregano instead of basil. SO WHAT! Before you know it, you are having fun! Before you know it, you are feeding yourself and/or your family and friends. Before you know it, you are addicted!
Whatever it is that motives you to get in your kitchen and "do," don't let semantics get in your way!
Avid home cook and passionate instructor