February 22, 2009

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Cookbook

I do love a good cookbook. I've acquired, purged, and re-acquired quite a collection since I learned to cook as a new bride, many (many!) years ago. In my mind, a really good cookbook should be read as if it were a novel, curled up in a comfy chair, a surly cat fighting it for lap space, perhaps a steaming mug of tea within easy reach.

A book that is nothing but a collection of recipes is a waste of my time. When I put a cookbook down, I want to feel like I've been someplace. A really good cookbook is a portal to a different dimension. I want to arrive back home with new experiences and a wider worldview.

But the thing is, I rarely cook anything from the books. Instead, they serve as inspiration for original creation. I am in awe of how this inspiration sneaks in, strikes its deadly blow, and then tiptoes out, leaving me with flour smudged on my face, dirty dishes in my sink, and something memorable (or sometimes not) on my dining table.

I spent this morning in the loving embrace of one of the most wonderful cookbooks I've encountered in recent years. It's called "Passionate Vegetarian" by Crescent Dragonwagon (don't blame her parents -- she took that name on as an adult!). It's over a thousand pages long, and another thousand pages would suit me just fine.

After I put it down this morning, I browsed around my kitchen for something to cook. Not something from the cookbook, mind you, that would be too... I don't know, predictable. And I wanted to make something NOW, not after a trip to the store for ingredients. It had to be made with what I had in my kitchen this very morning.

So here's what's cookin':

In my rice cooker, I put brown rice, plantains (yes, I had these on hand), some sweet potato chunks, caramelized onion, garlic, a can of rinsed black beans (wish I'd had two), and some broth spiked with salt, pepper, thyme, tons of cumin, and about a third of a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice. And red pepper flakes just for some kick. (Oh, drat, I meant to dice some red bell pepper in too!)

How will it turn out? Don't know. That's really not the important part. In the meantime, I'm going back to Passionate Vegetarian-ville. Call me when lunch is ready.

1 comment:

SeƱor Bozo said...

Sounds delicious! Now if we just had a couple of cheeseburgers, we could have lunch ...