It’s kind of like Pamplona: the gates swing open… and ready, set, bull! Cooking, for me, is like opening the gates of something packed-with-action: the beginning and middle are irresolute, yet, somehow, the finale brings happiness to all spectators and participators; it leaves people adamantly wanting more. As with all other tasks or challenges in life, I abandon any traces of fear before I begin a process. In this case, I place my laptop on the microwave and put on an easy-to-watch series such as, “The King Of Queens”, and I begin creating my next concoction, all while making loose mental notes of the ingredients I used, so in the future, I can refine the contributors and main players, and concoct a better concoction over time…
I think it’s dishonest when people say that they cook “everything”. Yes, SOME people can actually cook everything, namely chefs. But the cold, hard fact is: we cook what we like or we cook what we know. Having grown up in New York, I am more accustomed to creating Italian or Asian concoctions than I am Turkish or Philippino. But, living in a big city luckily translates to gustatory miscellany: so many cuisines, so little time. The more we taste and familiarize and broaden, the more we can create, or re-create a dish, in a wide variety of cuisines, whether following a recipe word-for-word, or, as I have steadfastly stated, from the depths of our creative minds, putting our own nameplate on the actual plate. And, the more we try, the more we find our own cooking niche, honing in on the cuisine or genre that we most excel in, turning it into our métier as the years pass on.
My husband’s line of ancestry is Moroccan, so I have recently tested the waters that are North-African cuisine, and have begun using cumin, turmeric, dried fruit, and root vegetables in my cooking. Despite my fervent hatred for (and allergy to) all things root vegetable, my husband is my audience. I realized that I must learn to incorporate this cuisine into my range of cooking, learning over time which concoctions work, and which don’t. As I excel in the Asian and Italian categories, I understand that I may not become an expert in North-African cooking nor should I boast about my North-African cooking skills. I certainly do not have to replace my passion and skill for the aforementioned Italian and Asian genres, but rather, simply, attempt to broaden my cooking portfolio over time.
The other night I concocted sweet potato soup for the first time, and it was absolutely divine (from what my husband and two of my friends said… I couldn’t taste it, my allergy is serious). I decided to throw a smattering of subjects and spices into a large soup pot and see what the outcome would bring. As by now you know my anti-recipe motto in both cooking and in life, I have listed below the steps as well as (more or less) the ingredients and matters that made up this creamy soup, one that was a big hit, and one that I will definitely tweak and fine-tune over time…
Soulful Sweet Potato Soup
- Roast 4 sweet potatoes, half a pumpkin, 2 large heads of cauliflower and about 4 halved carrots for an hour
- Before placing these in the oven, add dashes of white pepper and paprika to each
- In a large soup pot add two large white onions- halved, and generous handfuls of black pepper and sea salt as well as a dash of honey and cinnamon (I added a few almonds and a few green apple “moon” slices as well- pictured in size above)
- Remove the roasted ingredients from the oven and add them directly to the pot
- Fill the pot 3/4 of the way with water and begin cooking down until the onion softens
- Cook for around 40 minutes
- Use a stick blender to mash up the ingredients
- Add a large spoonful-and-a-half of sour cream- while soup is on the heat, and stir