Cooking Up Some Creativity
by Anna Lyn Horky, Cascadia Student
‘Tis the season. Holidays are nearly here. And food is one of the first things we think of as we contemplate any holiday, whether planning ahead or remembering the past. Every culture enjoys special meals during holiday festivities, and looks forward to annual culinary seasons when again we savor tasty treats that become widely available only during holidays. Pass the eggnog, please.
Yours Truly has been blogging recently about practicing creativity in our everyday lives in spite of limited time and life’s complications that seem to conspire against our creative aspirations. Even when we recognize the value creativity adds to our lives, our good intentions are usurped by so many other demands that it can be difficult to remember to practice creativity every day.
Or we do remember, but other priorities encroach on our time. Yours Truly is not talking here about investing huge chunks of time every single day. But we are talking about intentionally making creativity a part of our daily lives, not just when we receive an unexpected gift of time, but every day, in the midst of our harried and hurried lives. The folks here at Yours Truly want all of us to move past “I hope to do it someday” and into “I practice creativity in my life every day.”
So how might we connect creativity with something we already do every day?
Here’s a clue –
Every day we eat.
In fact, most of us have a habit of eating at least two meals every single day. Want to know one way to practice creativity every single day? Play with your food.
Well-meaning adults probably convinced you years ago not to play with your food. But they were only trying to instill in you some necessary social skills. They never intended to curb your appetite for creativity. Now that you’ve either acquired those social skills – or the etiquette police have given up on you – do play with your food, especially when you’re preparing it.
Even when you start with something boxed, canned, or frozen – be adventurous. Frozen pizza? Add your choice of toppings. Pile on your favorites. Canned soup? Toss in some extra ingredients and seasonings. Don’t be afraid to experiment. As you please your palate with choices from your palette, you will learn to express yourself creatively through food.
Or maybe you’d rather start your creative food adventure by mixing up textures. Or colors. Presentation is another facet of creativity with food. You can arrange the food on the plate in a formal way. Or you can be whimsical. Think open-face sandwich that smiles at you. Or even laughs with you. Drape a scarf over the table, and place on it an interesting centerpiece composed, like a song, of things that bring you joy. Your centerpiece might be a candle or a vase of flowers. Or it could be a saucer of rocks. It could be a Lego® model. It could be a Mason jar, filled with some expression of who you are. Or who you want to be.
Mix it up. Try something new every day. If you feel stuck, check out Pinterest or Google Images for ideas. But keep it simple, at least at first and maybe most of the time. Be intentional, but relax. Have fun with it.
The good news is that holidays are a great time to start your creative journey with food. Mouth-watering images and recipes are all around us, from magazines to internet to food packaging. Families get together, bringing favorite foods to loaded tables. Compliment the cooks, and request their recipes. And then make them yours by adding your own special ingredients.
Grocery ads around holiday time are chock full of culinary possibilities. Spices are on sale, as are basic ingredients like sugar and flour, as well as holiday favorites like eggnog and cranberry sauce. As you meander down the aisles of the grocery store, notice the abundance of possibilities. Colorful cardboard displays overflow with boxes or bags of seasoned bread cubes precut for stuffing. Or croutons. Or an edible diorama. Imagine it; play with it. Recipe cards, complete with enticing photographs, dangle at eye level from many shelves, promising that only minimal cooking skills are required. If you can read, you have at your disposal a basic tool to help you put together a feast as simple as soup and bread shared with a friend.
And if you tackle meal preparation with imagination and a sense of adventure, you can easily build creativity into your life. Every single day.
The Art of Food
by Brianna Garror, Cascadia Student
Some people would think that they do not have a bone of creativity in their body, but I disagree! There is a common practice that every human is required to do to live, and that is to eat. The whole practice of creating a meal is a form of creativity that everyone practices without realizing it. Just like an artist, it requires some level of skill, technique, knowledge, and preference. There are many different aspects in a single meal that require creativity, and I will discuss how it all works.
When you begin to prepare a meal, you are faced with many choices and options for flavors. First, you have to choose a meat that you would like to cook, as well as choose how you would like to cook it (ex: bake, pan sear, fry). Secondly, you must decide what type of seasonings would best accompany this selection of meat. Thirdly, you must choose any sides you would like to prepare with the meal that you feel would taste excellent with the meat and seasonings you decided upon. When you put all these elements together, you get a mixture of flavors and colors that express your preference, passion, and skills just as art would. It is a skill that takes practice, as many attend culinary arts schools to widen their knowledge of techniques and flavors, but when you put all of these aspects together, the result is something beautiful.
What if you’re not a great chef in the kitchen? Many choose the option of going to restaurants and enjoying the art of food provided by those trained in the subject. This can lead to a growth in an individual’s own knowledge of just how many different flavors there are to taste, and also about what foods people can attempt to make at home. Many that eat at restaurants do not know that if they love a meal, and if they can ask a server for the recipe, that they may provide the recipe on a paper to take home and try for themselves. Another art form of eating a meal is learning what drink to pair with the food.
In a lot of restaurants, there are usually waiters or bar tenders that double as “sommeliers”. A sommelier is someone who goes to school to study wine. They are usually best in evaluating bottles of wine, pairing your meal with a specific wine, and knowing proper pouring techniques that aerate your wine for better taste. If you appreciate a nice wine to accompany the flavors of your meal, these handy characters can show you how to choose the perfect wine type to accompany the exact meal chosen. Many people find this to be a valuable skill, for if you enjoy wine then you can understand the confusion of choosing one off of a long list at a restaurant. Sommeliers look to add to the art of tastes within the meal, as to add the icing to the cake as some might say!
If you ever doubt your creativity, get in the kitchen, try something new, and prove yourself wrong!
For more on this student blogging project, visit the Everyday Creative page!