I cooked last week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. And I realized something kind of profound. I like to cook. But only when it turns out well. And it only turns out well if I have the time and concentration to devote to enjoying the cooking AND a) I have a recipe OR b) I've made it so many times that I have a feel for it and can pretty much make it up as I go along.
I made hummus and tabbouleh, followed a recipe for the tabbouleh and made up the hummus, and it was delicious. Perfect. Honestly. I don't say that very often about my cooking. Whereas the fried chicken that I ad libbed for my parents was just barely edible. Maybe not that bad, but certainly not tasty. They were happy for the company, at least. And the recipe that I followed, barely, for Lara's kale and bean stew, ended up in a flavorless concoction that we all ate because it was clearly good for us and had tasty croutons stowed at the bottom of the bowl.
Friday's dinner of roasted asparagus, grilled salmon with salt and dill and super-buttery garlic bread just taught me never to cook if I don't feel like it. At this point in my cooking education, I rarely make disasters anymore- most things are palatable- which is a nice change from before, say, co-habitation with Alex. But if my heart isn't in it, it will taste uninspired and all I will get from it is some sort of moral satisfaction that I used the asparagus before it went bad in the veggie drawer. And these days, satisfaction comes much more easily from smaller efforts.