This week I looked in my fridge and realized I just didn't care about being creative this week with my food. I was tired and exhausted. I had hosted a potluck days earlier that had been smashing and where I had cleverly whipped up a rather smashing sweet potato and blue cheese galette using only detritus strewn about the pantry that had been long since forgotten. I am currently in the middle of my last week at my job, and as a celebration I busted out - sweet Jesus - cupcakes all because none of them had had them before and I had worked in a cupcake shop once. They had never had them so why not now?
(Also, I am lying. I freaking bought the cupcakes from the bakery I used to work at. Happy?)
Add that to trying to cook a decent meal every night and I realized - have you ever experienced this? - I just didn't care about whatever food I made. Or, I did. But I my brain was frazzled. An entire year developing recipes for book, blog, and any other number of venues and sometimes you just hit a wall. The left side of your brain just gives you the finger and retreats to the corner with a glass of scotch.
"Eff this noise." Or so says my brain.
And so I just stared into the fridge. Blue cheese. Cranberry beans. Fresh oranges, somehow. A heritage chicken; a gift that apparently required special cooking instructions that I was waiting upon. White wine. Yogurt. Enough produce for a boarding school.
It was like when you get that one Christmas gift from an aunt and you have no idea what it is. Thank you, but what so I do with it?
First world problems, I know. Woe is me - I have a stocked fridge filled with heritage birds, duck fat, and heirloom Green Zebra tomatoes from the Farmer's Market. What should I make so that my blog won't suffer? Can you hear the violins humming out their sorrowful liturgy?
But still, game on and all.
So I sat and thought about what I really wanted to eat. What did I want to eat where surely some already crystallized recipe existed? Someone must have done the work for me and that sounded best.
And I wanted pickles. Okra pickles. Which is odd since I generally hate okra, but I recently tried it in pickle form I was rather smitten.
I adore the taste of okra - green and musky, the sits at the back of the classroom vegetable because it's too cool for the in-crowd like cucumber or whatever. However, it's a texture thing for me. You know what I refer to. The slime. Slime no es bueno. Taste good. Texture bad. Thus far I prefer my okra hidden in a stew where the slime vanishes.
The pickle, however, was all flavor. Okra! Vinegar! Spice! Salt! Yes! More!
It was a pickle you could admire, like Bette White.
And recently, my friend Elise made pickled okra. So I decided I would do that. I would rely on her recipe and just tweak things a bit. I have a premixed pickling spice form Penzey's I adore and I'm always happy to add a few more cloves of garlic than might be necessary or preferred from a holy-hell-you-reek-of-garlic standpoint. These alterations would be made to make a fine suit fit to form.
And fit it did. Creative tailoring? Not really. More just adapting to how I eat. Simple enough, right?
The pickles are fabulous by the way. They'll tweak fine enough as you like it. They were well received at a recent potluck where even the okraphobic begrudgingly admitted delight to the spicy spears as they nibbled with reckless abandon.
Even better, I had time to breath in a moment of quiet and as I ate my pickles and with that pause the ideas began to trickle in again. Sweet lord almighty...