I am about to break the food blogger’s code of honor by admitting this, but I bet I’m not the only one: I have been wildly uninspired in the kitchen lately. Even in the midst of the greatest produce season of the year, my farmshare has been inspiring more blank stares than delighted squeals. (This is not, I hasten to add, in any way the fault of the amazing farmers in question. The produce is beautiful.) The other day, faced with a counter covered in tomatoes, I literally could not think of a single thing I wanted to do with them.
I blame my culinary ennui on several things. One is that — as I’m sure many of you constantly are — I’m short on time to cook, and the cooking I do so that we have something to eat for lunch is among my least inspired. Another is that I’ve been messing endlessly with my diet trying to nail down some pesky food sensitivities, and cooking to a rotating set of restrictions is challenging. I may also be suffering from a surfeit of choice: too many tasty recipes to pick from!
I am recovering my food mojo, and have a recipe post scheduled for tomorrow, but in the meantime, some things I’ve learned about how to get your kitchen groove back:
1. When you’re longing for simple, think elegant. Some of the most amazing food combinations are dead simple. I just read a beautiful article by Paula Wolfert about bread and tomatoes. I love goat cheese with sundried tomatoes. Almost anything can be made excellent with balsamic reduction.
2. Plan ahead. If during a fit of culinary inspiration, you stash a couple of quarts of soup in your freezer, you will be saved by your own hand when the dry season comes.
3. When uninspired, think types of flavors. If I can’t think of what I want to eat, I try thinking bigger: do I want salty or sweet? Crunchy or chewy?
4. Try cooking for others. Most of us, it turns out, get into weird culinary ruts when cooking only for ourselves. I find that this is almost as true if I’m cooking for other people who eat it later or at work or something. Cooking for a hungry audience right in front of me is a different experience that often makes more effort feel worthwhile.
How about you? Do you get into kitchen ruts? What gets you out of them?