Culinary genius or just plain luck

If you are one of my legion - of 10 - fans, look away this post is not for you. Go grab a coffee and I’ll come back for you when I’m done. Okay, now that the fans have gone, I’ve got a couple questions for the rest of you.

Is it just me? Or do you find that if people know that you’re a good cook or baker you get asked the most random questions about what to do with single ingredients.  Like “Hey Rhonda, I’ve got a box of clementines that I’m tired of eating, what can I make with that?” or “I’ve got a red and yellow bell peppers, any recipe ideas for me?”

While it’s flattering that I’m thought of as an expert in food, I think that anyone, including a 5-star Michellin chef, would find it challenging to come up a recipe for a random single ingredient, without knowing what else you’ve got in your pantry.

I blame the food network and shows like Chopped Canada, my new obsession, for this.  And, well maybe I can also take a little of the blame.  I may have shared my culinary philosophy with a few people, and now my reputation as the culinary version of the 1980’s tv action hero MacGyver is established. Secret agent MacGyver could save the world with a piece of twine, a paperclip and a can of coke, without breaking a sweat.

I generally don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner until I get in the kitchen. While I wish that I could attribute it to super agent skills, the reality is that I’m just not that organized. By the time I’ve had my second coffee, I’ll text home and ask Mark to take out either chicken, fish, beef or pork.  According to my co-workers this is not normal. Can I really be the only one who does this?

The only time that I ever plan a meal in advance is if I’m having people over for dinner (especially if there are food allergies), or at the High Holidays when certain traditions must be observed.

Until I spoke to my co-workers I never questioned it. I have a pantry full of items that I consider to be staples, which I’ve now learned aren’t anyone staples but mine.  Spices, marinades, chutneys, curries and dry rubs are found in copious amounts in my pantry, and I use them liberally in my dishes. This means that I can prepare a variety of dishes, in different culinary styles with ingredients I have at hand.  

I also have problems with leftovers, so the lentils from Sunday’s dinner must turn into something else, like Lentil and Tilapia Sliders by Tuesday. I get very bored eating the same thing day after day, so I have to change my meals up regularly to stave off the boredom.  

Lentil Tilapia Burger ©

Pre-planning a week’s worth of meals in advance also DOES NOT work for me. The thought of scheduling my spaghetti eating to a certain day of the week makes me shudder.  What if no one feels like eating it on that day! 

This inability to pre-plan also extends to list making for grocery shopping; I don’t make a list to go to the store! There I said it! Instead, I wander through the aisles, and select groupings of things that I’d like to put together, and voila, the meal comes together. I’ve really tried to use a list, but it always seems to get lost, right after the veggie section, so I just don’t bother.  I can hear some of you groaning. Quelle horreur!


This is my thing - perhaps it means I’m some sort of culinary genius?  Hmmm, I highly doubt that, judging by the number of fails that I’ve also produced using this said method.

So back to the culinary version of MacGyver…

To my Diana who was in a conundrum over her clementines, I gave her my recipe for Clementine upside down cakes, and for Jason who was in a pickle over what to do with his peppers, I sent him off with a recipe for a Marinated Bell Pepper salad.

What’s your culinary style?

Copyright © 2014, Olive & Ruby. All rights reserved.


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