Or, how I found a dose of creativity in the kitchen.
I am not a creative person. I am very left-brained. Even my musical studies were approached in a very left-brained manner. I was never any good at improvisation - I needed structure (notes on a page).
My approach to cooking is very similar. I need a recipe. Directions to follow. Rules. Given a recipe, I can usually follow it and obtain enough success to consider the result edible, enjoyable even. But I have never been one to see ingredients in my kitchen and conceptualize a dish, or throw spices on something and have it turn out wonderfully.
I've always worried about this inadequacy in the kitchen - mostly for how it would affect my future children. My mom has always been what I'm not in the kitchen - she's a creative, thoughtful, inspired cook. We never hurted for yummy family dinners when I was growing up. But somehow that gene skipped a generation, which always made me wonder what kind of a gastronomic experience my children would have and remember. I know not every mom has to be a whiz in the kitchen - but mine was, and I felt like I owed it to my offspring to at least try.
Well, last night proved that I have at least a thread of that, somewhere in my DNA. I can't begin to tell you how proud I was of what I did in the kitchen last night. And here's the thing - it wasn't very difficult. It's going to sound silly when I admit how easy it was - but the fact that I did this, that I came up with it on my own, without a recipe, and executed it (fairly well, I might add) without consulting a single resource except my own brain - well, that was an accomplishment for me.
So what did I do that has me spewing congratulatory back-pats? I made quesadillas. Not only that, but I made them to use up something we already had in the house - cubed pepperjack cheese leftover from Ben's birthday party.
In addition to the cheese, I boiled and cubed a couple of chicken breasts and sauteed a bell pepper and an onion. (I sauteed!) Then I spread it all out between two burrito-sized flour tortillas (I'm nothing if not generous with my portion sizes). We had enough ingredients to make three large quesadillas. I cooked them one at a time in a pre-heated skillet with a dash of olive oil. Other than the first one, which I burned a little (turns out the heat should be set fairly low, to allow the ingredients to cook without crisping the tortilla), it was a very successful dinner! My husband and son both agreed.
So even though this seems like a fairly simple meal (served only with sour cream and salsa to garnish), it was a big accomplishment for me. Maybe I'm not so bad off in the kitchen. Too bad we can't live on quesadillas every day...