As much as I love both of these fantastically divine substances, I've led myself to believe that it's within my best interest to shy away. At one, very brief, point, I had mastered the art of baking without excessive taste testing. I could make a dozen batches of cookies and be perfectly content without nibbling on even one. But I eventually came around and realized that it's almost as fun to eat my delectable creations as it is to bake them (though not quite!). In my ever-going, and sometimes ever-failing, effort to be more health conscious, I've tried to turn myself away from baking and focus more on cooking. I still bake, don't get me wrong! But I try to keep it to special occasions and gifts; if I give it away I can't eat it all!
Unfortunately I'm not a very great cook. Even less fortunately, I seem to have very unique taste buds. Moroccan stew and crazy artichoke tortillas don't appeal to everybody, neither does the roasted butternut squash soup that I recently conjured and failed to photograph. It used to bother me a little that if I made dinner at my house, I was often the only one eating it. My dad's a little adventurous, and sometimes half-heartedly embarks on my vegan/vegetarian/ethnic culinary experiments, but in the end nobody's anywhere near as enthusiastic as I am. The recipes I'm drawn to usually are full of spices like cumin and cinnamon, or fresh Italian herbs like oregano, rosemary, basil, and so on. But they hardly ever have meat. Probably have meat like .01% of the time. And so my family and my friends watch as I stir in chickpeas, squash, lentils, and any random vegetable I can get my hands on, wondering why in the world I could possibly want to eat the concoction I'm stirring.
I'm starting to learn not to care. I've stopped inviting others into my precious kitchen space to observe my prized work in progress, because I now know the reaction I'm about to get isn't the one I was hoping for. But does that really matter? Who cares if anybody else takes the slightest interest in my personal endeavors? To a certain degree I guess I do, otherwise I wouldn't ask so mainly fruitless times for an awe-struck smile I won't receive. I am, however, beginning to feed off my own thrill from cooking. I'm beginning to submerge myself in my own satisfaction with the warmth of my dishes. I suppose this blog may contribute to that, the fact that I can post pictures and write about the wrongs, rights, disappoinments, joys, and lessons learned of my efforts. Here I can pretend that somebody has the same reaction I do, pretend that somebody clicks on a picture of my latest interest and appreciates the outcome.
Ultimately, I think what's important is that I cook for myself. When I try to pick recipes that accomodate others and step outside of what really engages my interest my heart isn't in it. More than anything, food is about love. If you take the elements out of what you do that differentiate it as yours, you lose passion, you remove the love. Without that most critical element, our own secret ingredient, our pursuits are merely a recipe for disaster. In everything you do, make it your own and don't let anybody take it away from you. Those who cannot recognize the passion and zeal in your efforts are the ones missing out, and you shouldn't deprive yourself for their error.