Weekly Tip: Stretch Culinarily

pickle fail

That’s right, I said “culinarily.” It’s probably not a word, so I’ll give you my definition… as of or pertaining to all things culinary (you know, cooking related). This week I’m encouraging you to stretch (expand, grow) yourself in the kitchen. Do something bold and different that you’ve always thought was super bad ass. No matter where you are on the culinary spectrum, there is always something beyond your comfort zone that sounds really great but has so much possibility for disaster. Due to the disaster possibility we often don’t even go there. How sad is this?! We eat food so often that you have a lifetime of opportunities to try and fail and then some day succeed with that new dish.

This week’s tip is to pick one culinary thing that fits this category and make it happen. Fail supremely or succeed surprisingly, but just do it. Could be a new type of cuisine (pho soup, maybe) or a cooking method (fermentation, perhaps) or a special dish (soufflé, possibly).

I know it will take brain power, new ingredients and, of course, time. So why do it? Here are some reasons why:

  • Some part of you wants to do it! Don’t be a food victim.
  • Take back your food power (YOU decide what ingredients to use) and feel connected to what goes in your body.
  • Food you prepare yourself is not filled with questionable chemicals like colorings and additives.
  • New foods break up “the same ol’ thing” routine that many of us get into. They help us discover new favorites and build our palates for new flavors.
  • Attempting new challenges builds character and makes you more awesome.
  • I figure, in the end, you’ll either have real respect and appreciation for those who have mastered your culinary stretch (if you fail) or a new item in your own toolbox/lunchbox (if, no -when!!- you succeed).

In honor of walking my talk, this week I stopped talking about wanting to ferment my own food and I just did it. My pickles were a supreme salty FAIL. And yet I got more out of it than I could have imagined. The whole process was demystifying and exciting and I’m one step closer to having a gut friendly pickle one of these days.

The past few years of my life I have truly lived by Thomas Watson’s wise words, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” I have started at the beginning and learned to cook. It has often been daunting, but if you check your ego at the door, you’ll be amazed by how fun cooking can be and how much people want to help you along the way! You just might end up with a beautiful soufflé or a clean butter cake not from a box or heck, even pickles.

A friend left some pickling cucumbers from her garden on my front porch today. A sign – if ever there was one – to Keep Calm and Pickle On!


How are you going to S–T–R–E–T–C–H??? Report in everyone!

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7 thoughts on “Weekly Tip: Stretch Culinarily

  1. Love you, love your philosophy! My stretch this month will be to eat Russian food, whether I want to or not! And to find three new things that I like that aren’t desserts! Wish me luck!

  2. I remember a time when I “culinarily” stretched myself…in fact, as I recall you were a co-conspirator. When you were Dean’s age, your mom was going back to CSUS to get her teaching credential and you, Zac and I needed to prepare dinner in her absence. One evening “we” decided to make mashed potatoes in a very different way. We tried to mash the raw potato first and then put the “paste” into a pot of boiling water…when that wasn’t working real well, we tried to take the blob of potato mash and fry it in a pan. Despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to make it work….and the potato thing we created was not edible…at least by us, I do believe the dog ate it…albeit reluctantly.

    • How the evening we made Zac the king and then made casserole out of whatever we could find? That was a culinary stretch!

  3. I have always wanted to make my own Kahlua. I have some homemade vanilla that would make it very yummy. I also will see what I can make with pumpkins. We seem to have a few too many too early in the season. All I can think of is pumpkin waffles.

  4. On one of these hot hot days of staying inside I’m going to stretch myself and make NOT BUY a pizza crust. I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time and I’ve let myself get lazy~

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