I love to cook. Scratch that, I love to create and food is one of my favourite palates! My specialty is my ability to make do with the ingredients I have on hand and come up with tantalizing recipes. Especially finding a way to mimic the flavour of a beloved recipe. I’ve substituted sweeteners (often using honey as often as possible); omitted certain spices entirely to combine others to have the same effect.
There are several motivations behind this: making a healthier version of a dish, not having something on hand or not having access to a particular ingredient. Of course there are limits. Take for example my first attempts at sugar free icing. Here we have no fridge. The river might cool things down but often it rises to dangerous levels. All the alternatives for cooling are not available. Don’t forget too that at midday (when we celebrate the birthday) the sun being usually at its hottest, the last thing you want is your cake to melt. Take it from me, it is crushing to see your carefully placed flower decorations slide down the side. Or to spend the first moments after blowing out the candle taking pictures to preserve the moment. This did not go over well with the youngest member of the household. She is right, after you blow out the candles you should cut and serve the cake.
I was almost forgetting the most challenging aspect of life that necessitates, often times, major modifications to the prep or cooking of a specialty! When you don’t have that fancy doohickey that a recipe calls for or you need a perfectly pre-heated oven, do you give up? I have resigned myself that I will probably never ever make a soufflé. But other than that and any other foods that require precise timing or tools, I have pulled off some pretty fun substitutions. I don’t let myself get disappointed (well, unless it burns) I take on the challenge. It can take me weeks or months to work out a way to put together a particular craving! There are the synchronistic times when I pull out a solution like a rabbit out of a hat.
Like the time I felt like a chutney for our pakoras. Didn’t have any tamarind, mint or mango on hand (the 3 most common ones from my memory of restaurant dipping). What to do? I pulled out some of our passion fruit. It was fantastic. The sour juice of the jungle fruit mixed with the right balance of spices and honey made the meal unforgettable. The time I did have mango my girl refused to eat it claiming she had wanted “maracuya” (local name for passion fruit!) Another discovery was that it was possible to make a delicious pesto without sweet basil! I know, I know, the horror! Nor did the blend I whipped up have any parmesan. Basically, I used a variety of green leafy plants from the garden, including some other kinds of basil; added olive oil and a pinch of Maras salt. It all got chopped up with my kitchen scissors in a glass and voila! The piece-de-resistance was complete with a clove of finely grated garlic!!
So you see, it is not only the location we live in or the animal encounters we regularly have, sometimes just making a meal is a wild adventure. Although, I think this particular style of adventure is one to be found in many a kitchen around the globe. We all have to eat, right? I have been slowly putting together a list of recipes and stories to go along with the. I plan to whip up a book of recipes for my fellow “adaptivores” out there! 💜