Where do I get inspiration on what dishes to make, day in and day out?
I'm not really a cookbook or recipe sort of amateur cook (but I have tons of cookbooks and magazines and filed recipes). I dislike baking because you have to be precise in your ingredients, measurements, temperature and time.
Patience is truly the virtue of a baker, and I'm not THAT virtuous
(insert wink here). What I enjoy most is scrounging for ingredients in
the fridge, chopping madly then throwing everything in a hot pan and
praying to the cooking gods the results will not poison my family or end
up in the bin. Or I could find a recipe in a magazine, blog or
cookbook, then have an a-ha! moment and proceed to tinker with it like
mad. Perhaps it's late onset selective attention span, or my mommy-fied
neurons, but I just have this compulsion to not follow directions to the letter. Manuals that state "you must follow instructions to the nth degree" are my worst frenemy.
My family enjoys food as much as I do, and we don't like eating the same type of cuisine over and over again. Sundays could be Western, Mondays Thai, Tuesdays Filipino, Wednesdays Chinese, Thursdays Italian and Fridays (TGIF), now that's for my beloved pastime: eating out. This means I need to sit down every week to plan a menu, which I always change at the last minute. Why I drive myself crazy in this manner, I will never know.
What I do know is that inspiration plays a big role in what we eat everyday. Given my dislike for proper procedures, taking out a cookbook and following a recipe just doesn't cut it. I suppose the 'spark' comes from having a most delicious childhood, reading one too many food blogs, burying my face in magazines, watching too much Asian Food Channel and Master Chef, blowing what little money I have on kitchen doodads and making restaurant owners richer. All the flavors, information, essence and bits and bobs somehow form a cohesive whole when I'm in a market, or in front of the fridge or stove. I just know what to cook and how to cook it. I think.
The cooking gods have been mighty kind as well. So far my sons are having as delicious a childhood as I did.