Back in the Saddle: Weeknight Improv Cooking

I got back from Mexico almost a month ago. My suitcase is still not unpacked. The fridge is stocked only with hummus and some moldy mushrooms. I had an anxiety dream where I was trying to keep up with someone dancing salsa in double time. Things are not going very smoothly right now.

But when I finally cooked a proper dinner for myself last night, I remembered why I like doing it. It’s therapy, plain and simple. Breathe, focus, get something accomplished. And eat something fresh and nourishing at the end.

Best of all, it was something I made up on the spot, and it turned out even better than I expected. Unlike all my other work I’m doing, which seems to inevitably involve compromised visions and not-quite-right results. I haven’t felt like a freakin’ genius in a long time, basically, and it felt good!

tagine 006What I made–a fish tagine with an Indian spice combo cribbed from Madhur Jaffrey’s eggplant recipe–is posted over at Cooking in Real Time.

I’ll be honest, I was dragging my ass into the kitchen. The podcast, and cooking at all, felt like a chore–I was so not excited. But one of my terribly demanding (well, not at all) fans had requested something tagine-y, and I figured fish was good because it cooks quickly. I was thinking Moroccan, of course, but somehow it wasn’t hitting the spot. I thought I’d do whole spices in the hot oil to begin, Indian style-y, because I sure as hell wasn’t bothering with the two-hour charmoula marinade pretty much every fish tagine recipe calls for.

And then I thought of fennel, and how good it is with fish. And I thought of the eggplant recipe, which has fennel. And suddenly my brain was working veryveryfast, and I was running to the bookshelf to double-check the eggplant recipe to see if it also uses ginger (it does) because I’d been thinking ginger too. Everything started clicking into place.

And just that quickly, I was hungry and excited about cooking and feeling like the day hadn’t been a total waste. It was like the medication kicking in.

So, check out the recipe. I think you’ll like it. Maybe it’ll bring you out of a slump too?

One comment

  1. Conner says:

    sounds wonderful! And I can almost make it down here – tilapia, check, ginger, check, just have to zoom over to my father-in-law’s garden to uproot some fennel…

    Moldy mushrooms? You’re killing me! What I wouldn’t do for a moldy mushroom or two right about now. Used up the dried shitakes in last night’s risotto..

    keep on cooking!

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