Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 16th, 2022

Who needs recipes? Why it’s time to trust your senses and cook intuitively

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Elle Hunt in the Guardian has a description of exactly the way I cook. She writes:

Whenever Katerina Pavlakis had friends over for dinner, it was not just the food that her guests would comment on. It was also the fact that she seemed so unflustered – “that I was cooking up all these things, and I wasn’t even stressed,” she says. Only then did Pavlakis realise that not everyone shared her experience in the kitchen – that, in fact, even people who enjoyed cooking and were good at it could find it a source of frustration.

That made Pavlakis curious: what made cooking so effortless for her, and so frustrating for others? After talking to friends and customers in the shop she runs with her husband in north Wales, she worked out where many were going wrong: they were trying – and struggling – to follow recipes. There, she could relate.

“I do love recipe books, and I have loads of them,” says Pavlakis. “But I cannot follow a recipe for the life of me.”

Pavlakis’ approach has always been to improvise: adding a pinch of this or a dash of that, sometimes only figuring out what meal she is making once it is already under way. But as random as it may seem, “there is a method”, she says.

In the online courses she runs as the Intuitive Cook, Pavlakis teaches people how to gain confidence and skills in the kitchen by throwing out rules, recipes and even ingredients lists.

It may seem counterintuitive, especially for beginners. But this more off-the-cuff approach to cooking has recently been gaining traction. The New York Times last year published a cookbook of “no-recipe recipes”, designed for those without the patience or inclination to follow detailed directions. The celebrity chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku chain, espoused a similar philosophy in his book Cooking at Home, subtitled: “How I learned to stop worrying about recipes (and love my microwave)”.

To Pavlakis, it suggests fatigue with the overcomplication of cooking, and the pressure on everyone to produce restaurant-quality meals. Mainstream media portrays cooking as a “kind of aspirational hobby”, she says – leaving people feeling intimidated and overwhelmed by the number of sources on what and how to eat. Recipes that assume that everyone owns a mandoline slicer, or keeps preserved lemons in the fridge, can make people feel that they have failed before they have even got started.

More to the point, Pavlakis says, even following a recipe to perfection does not necessarily build confidence or skills. It is a little like the difference between following Google Maps’ directions, and actually knowing your way around. Taking an “intuitive” approach to cooking, informed by what you have to hand and what you like to eat, can help to minimise food waste and turn cooking into a lifelong habit – not a source of stress, or only for special occasions. And, Pavlakis adds, it is not as high-risk as you might think.

Here are few tips to get you started, from Pavlakis and other intuitive types.

Throw out the fear

People often cling to recipes out of fear of making something inedible, says Pavlakis – “you really have to try very hard”. She hears more complaints of meals being bland than ruined. The biggest challenge in learning to cook intuitively is getting over that insecurity, she says, “and daring to do what you want”. Try a small tweak in your next meal, then a bigger one. “Nine times out of 10,” she says, “it will probably turn out pretty good.”

Work with what you have …

Pavlakis suggests being led by the contents of your fridge, and reverse-engineering a meal from there. That way you won’t end up with half-used ingredients or odds and ends that will get thrown away. Thinking in terms of “flavour worlds” – herbs, spices and ingredients that we might consider “typically French”, say, or “typically Thai” – can steer you towards a particular dish or complementary pairing. Add oregano to tomatoes and you’re likely Italy-bound; turmeric or cumin might suggest an Indian curry. “It really does give you a completely different experience,” says Pavlakis. Even leftovers can often be repurposed into something entirely new.

Simplify steps, not ingredients . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 May 2022 at 9:03 pm

Chickpea and black-rice tempeh: 5 days and done (by edict)

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I decided to call it done. On the left you see the slab freed from the bag — the top of the bag was along the right edge of the photo, and as you can see the top edge and the center section never took hold.The cross section shows the section that failed, though parts of it are good. 

At any rate, it has been cut into sections and those are now in glass storage containers in the refrigerator. Later today I will learn how it tastes.

Update: I diced some of the slab small and sautéed the cubes in olive oil for a few minutes and then used them as croutons. Quite good. So batch is only a semi-failure.

Written by Leisureguy

16 May 2022 at 11:35 am

Planet Java Hive to start the week

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It’s always good to start the week with a fine shaving experience, which was provided this morning by the CK-6 formulation of Planet Java Hive, whose coffee + honey fragrance greatly appeals to me, and with a rich, thick lather made with the Green Ray synthetic. 

This iKon stainless-steel slant, now sold with a B1 coating, was my first great slant. It easily wiped away my two-day stubble in three easy passes, 2/3 of a day per pass, presumably.

A splash of Planet Java Hive aftershave with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the job, leaving a face that is super smooth, supple, and fragrant.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Queen Victoria: “rich Darjeeling and Ceylon, smoky Lapsang Souchong and sweet Jasmine.”

Written by Leisureguy

16 May 2022 at 9:30 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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