What I’ve realized this week is that it’s kind of awesome getting old. Two examples:
- I read back through some of my creative writing work from 1997. At the time, I had been writing pretty seriously for a few years and I was definitely very committed to writing and improving. So, the pieces I reviewed were not my very first attempts at writing. What I discovered was that while the writing was fine, it was very much a beginner’s effort, of someone still learning how to write well. In other words, 15+ years into my writing career, such as it is, I can now do way better. It was so lovely to see how far I’ve come. Yea!
- Next is that I gave someone a recipe this morning for sorrel soup that I realize now was pretty vague. But this is how I’m cooking these days. I followed recipes from roughly ages 20-35. But for the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot better at whipping up something from whatever I have around, based on my understanding of how things taste and what goes with what. Essentially, I learned how to cook by following recipes, and now I am reaping the rewards of that learning in the form of being able to cook without recipes. What a milestone!
I’ve always been one for the long haul. I feel like I never truly know something unless I’ve been doing it for a very long time. It’s nice to feel like I have been doing a few things for a long time and I now have some chops to show for it. If this is what it’s like to be 40, I’ll take more!
On a related note, I find that I gravitate towards cookbooks that try to teach you how to cook instead of just giving you recipes to follow. Good examples include Sally Schneider’s books and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. All of those books are framed on the principle of “master recipes” from which you then make other things (Schneider calls this improvising). This approach/philosophy really works for me. And, of course, with SCD, I have to be really flexible and creative with modifying recipes anyway.
Oh, and another thing. I came home from work one day this week and I’d had a really rough day, at the end of which, I basically obliterated everything I’d worked on all day and was not sure I could get it back. I had to leave work late not knowing if I’d be able to recover all my work the next day. When I got home, I started making chicken curry for dinner. Somewhere in the middle of making it, I realized how profoundly grateful I am that I enjoy cooking. I find it relaxing and engaging, like meditating, and I know that so many people just don’t. For them, it’s a big, boring chore–like doing the laundry or mowing the lawn–and there is no pleasure in the act of cooking. I am so grateful that I do love it, especially given that I’m eating SCD, which is fairly challenging. I really feel for the people that come to SCD with no cooking skills and no interest in cooking. What a tough mountain to climb.
So, here’s that sorrel soup recipe, for what it’s worth.
Etudes des Sorrel Soup
4 cups of chicken stock
4-6 cups of fresh sorrel
ground white pepper
cream of your choice (optional)
Basically, I bring the stock to a simmer and then add the sorrel. Simmer for 15-20 mins or so. Then run this through the blender and add a few shavings of nutmeg, ground white pepper, and salt to taste, and optionally, a cream of your choice (like almond or coconut milk).
Variations include sauteeing some leeks beforehand and then adding the stock to that and going from there. Or caramelizing some onions first and going from there. You get the idea.
And now, back to my coq au vin simmering away on the stovetop and my firm belief that any dish that starts with frying bacon in butter is going to be good.
Sorrel is one of the things that grows really well in Portland, almost too well. I separated my sorrel-jungle in February, and here it is now trying to take over again.