There's something so satisfying about cooking at home, and with all of the recent food blogging assignments I've been sent on for the magazine, it sounds even more pleasing - to chop, to stir to flavor layer delicious culinary compositions of my own. Instant gratification and one of the best releases from my manic mind.
But before my dishes can come together, the ingredients have to be chosen. And as you might imagine, an OCDite's creations are compiled carefully with choice produce and herbs (I started my own herb garden last year, so I could be sure I was getting the freshest every time!). Quality ingredients - if you live in a climate where they're readily available - are like the difference between cashmere and wool. Both will do the trick, but if you want to truly indulge, then "go big or go home."
I recommend checking out the local farmers markets first. They are popping up everywhere in Southern California. I gravitate to the market at the OC Fair Grounds (Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), because it's close, which boasts the best eggs, true artisanal dark German bread and fresh, raw almonds amongst the beautiful bounty of fresh produce. And if you reside in my home state of South Dakota, stop by the nearest Hutterite colony. Their produce and meat is grown with care and tradition, and is always delicious.
|Onions and artichokes at the Fairground Farmers Market|
|Be creative with what's in season: Sautee or stuff these beautiful Squash Blossoms|
|And who can resist a beautiful beet! Boil them (with the stems on so they keep their color) and eat them cold or hot in salads or soups.|
Furnished with my virtual list tucked away in my Furla, I make my rounds to these varietal grocers:
- For truly sustainable seafood: Santa Monica Seafood
- For hard to find, quality ingredients: Bristol Farms
- For meat and cheeses: The Meat House
- For spices in quantities large or small and addictive, homemade snacks: Henry's Market
- For savory simmering sauces if you don't have the time to make your own: William Sonoma
- For a more elegant meal and a bright spot in your day, pick up a bundle of fresh flowers: Every Bloomin' Thing
So, until Part II from my rather compulsive kitchen, make your virtual lists, do your shopping and let it be fun! Explore the variety of eats available at your local grocers. Next time, we'll travel through my OCDite mind in prepping and cooking mode, and I'll leave you with a recipe that will allow you to be playful and adventurous, and it will not be something baked. Baking requires precision, and if you don't get the measurements perfect, it can be a little too disastrous for this disorder.
And don't forget to take one last look at the Jacarandas while you're out perusing the produce - their purple blooms will be gone soon!