Sunday, September 19, 2010

Confessions of a Reluctant Cook

I admit it. I would rather not cook. It's not that I'm a bad cook -- I'm actually pretty decent. It's just that I would prefer to have someone call me to a delicious meal than to be the one doing the calling. From time to time, however, I am inspired to try my culinary hand at something I've never done before. This week that inspiration came from another blog, that of my friend, Ben, author of Kissing the Cook, specifically his wonderful ravioli recipe. I decided that I was going to try my hand at making homemade ravioli with a homemade filling. I learned a few things in the process.

Lesson #1: It always takes longer than you think it will.  I'll cut to the chase. I started at 5PM. We ate at 9PM.
Lesson #2: Small ravioli are harder to make than large ravioli.  The smaller the ravioli, the messier it is to stuff and seal.
Lesson #3: If you're going to cook something you've never made before, don't split your attention by trying to make meat sauce for a lasagna at the same time. When you do that, it takes longer to complete your project. (Refer to Lesson #1.)

Ok, so on to the ravioli. I used half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour, which made the dough a little harder to knead and roll. (Lesson #4 - Forget the whole wheat flour, and Lesson #5 - get a better rolling pin.) It resulted in ravioli with thicker pasta than I would have liked and required longer to cook. In spite of the chewiness, the ravioli was tasty enough to convince me (and my family) to try it again. I liked the filling enough to double the recipe and use it in my lasagna the following day. And if my next attempt at ravioli is successful, I'm going to start experimenting with different fillings. Of course, there's always the possibility that I'll hit the lottery, become fabulously wealthy and hire an Italian cook to prepare my meals for me. In the meantime, I'll keep looking to my friend, Ben, the cook for occasional inspiration of the culinary kind to keep me motivated in the kitchen.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, September 3, 2010

Digging My Way Out

I'm dog tired, exhausted from all the work I've been doing around the house for the past week or so. I've gotten myself into a frenzy of cleaning and purging my personal spaces of a lot of the crap I have accumulated over the years and held on to "just in case".  Nothing more has been accomplished other than filling my home to the point where I'm uncomfortable. I am to blame for much of it as I am an incorrigible pack rat, loathe to throw anything out that may be useful. The rest I blame on my family. They, too, are pack rats however they do not share my saving grace of actually cleaning and clearing once in a while. They just accumulate endlessly and seem to be very happy wallowing in their own mess.

My house has been whispering in my ear. (No, wait, not was more like a clarion call but, since it was directed at my deaf ear, I perceived it as a whisper.) It's been telling me, "It's time to let go and move on", and so that is exactly what I've been doing, slowly and methodically. I began in my bedroom, a place I don't usually spend a lot of time in. My bedroom exists to house my clothes, jewelry and bed. I don't live in there, I just sleep in there, so consequently it gets neglected in the housekeeping department. I didn't realize exactly HOW neglected it was until I started moving stuff around to clean and I have to admit I was embarrassed by how long I had let things go. I began the cleanup with my dresser then I progressed around the room in a counterclockwise manner, cleaning specific sections over a number of days. Yes, I said days, it was THAT bad. Yesterday and today marked major milestones; I washed the blinds and cleared out my husband's night table and corner of the room. I knew I had made a major dent when he came to me after having entered the bedroom and said, "What happened?" The fact that he even noticed was the benchmark that I'd done some major damage.

The cleaning and clearing has not been confined to the bedroom. I've had my hand in nearly every room of the house, doing a little bit here, a little there, and getting into long overlooked nooks and crannies. There's an immediate payoff to these activities...I can breathe easier. It feels as if the air is fresher and as if there is more light in the room. I've also been doing the very same thing in my garden, clearing out a very thick stand of blackeyed susans in anticipation of next year's growing season. I plan on shifting my focus from flowers to food crops next year and I want to devote more of my garden space to that. I'll talk more about that in my garden blog.

The biggest challenge that I have yet to face is my craft workshop. It is literally filled to bursting and I am going to have to do some serious purging there. Yet, I am determined to slay the dragons of disorder one at a time, slowly and methodically, until I free myself from this self-imposed prison of "stuff". There is a vision in my head of what I want to achieve and as long as I keep that vision firmly in my sights, I can do nothing but achieve that goal. There is no doubt in my mind that when I achieve my goal, I will realize that I didn't really need all that stuff to begin with. Getting rid of it isn't the hard part...keeping it out, now THAT is the hard part.

Wish me luck. And pass me the dustcloth, will ya?

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva