Apparently I'm on the same wave-length as Mark Bittman (which I'm psyched about because I worship at the feet of his culinary prowess). Thanks to Bonnie for alerting me to this. So many possibilities!
My shift from eating take-out every night to cooking a delicious (sometimes more, sometimes less) meal every night has empowered me in ways I'm only now beginning to realize.
A few years ago, I discovered Heidi Swanson's blog 101cookbooks, and from there, her stunning cookbook Super Natural Cooking. I would turn each page and marvel at what seemed to be completely delectable and nutrient-filled recipes, feeling that such a thing (locating the ingredients, maintaining a stocked pantry, motivating each night to cook) was somehow beyond my grasp. In some ways, I think that dreaming of being the kind of person who cooks like that (but never taking steps to be that person) kept me in a perpetual state of comfortable passivity. Nothing tried, nothing failed (or gained, of course.)
Moving back into my parents' home proved a wake-up call. I took on the task of making supper most nights, and leaped into experimental cooking with gusto. I was desperate for a creative outlet, and cooking allowed me to take risks and, so importantly, to produce something tangible and useful out through my endeavors. For someone who has spent a lifetime in academia, tangible, immediate results are something of a miracle. My dissertation may never be finished, but by God, I can cook a mean stir-fry.
"What's for dinner?" Stefan asked.
"Homemade sushi." I said.
Cue a look of disbelief as he scans the counter on which I've placed basmati rice (not sushi rice), leeks, cayenne pepper, shoyu sauce, and nori.
"At least I have nori and rice!" I said.
So, yeah, ideally I would make sushi with actual sushi rice, and avocado, and fresh tuna, and, you know, other sushi-type things. But tonight I was craving sushi, and I figured what the hell, I'll give it a shot.
The sushi, I am proud to say, was chock full of win. Subtle heat from the cayenne met by the sweetness of the shoyu and a slightly chewy rice base (I never can get rice right) made for a seriously satisfying mouthful of faux-sushi. No photos this time, but I will perfect it next week and post them so you can marvel at the ease and delicious payoff of taking a chance in the kitchen.
It should be noted that Stefan tried to steal the last piece on my dish while I wasn't looking. I think I won him over.