So what is a curve ball?As Wikipedia puts it, the phrase “to throw a curve ball” is essentially translated to: introducing a significant deviation to a preceding concept. In a way it is dealing with the unexpected before you. Make the most out of it!
Dealing with the unexpected is a never quite predictable. However, the results will be worth your time and effort. If the meal does not turn out perfect or as you expected, then you know what did not work in that particular instance. Each time you learn something from a curve ball, you are that much closer to hitting a home run.
How to prepare for the next curve ball:
1. Build up your staples
If you do much cooking at all, it is essential to build up a pantry of simple ingredients you can fall back on without having to make that last minute trip to the grocery store.
"Use long-keeping ingredients as opportunity"
2. Learn to cook with less dishes and tools
Clean up as you go. Sometimes the curve balls come after the meal. The meal went perfect and dinner was amazing! Wait... now, you have the task of cleaning every single dish that you own. No cook wants to spend hours cleaning up after they worked all afternoon cooking.
Shortly after I learned a more detailed way of prepping my cooking schedule (more on that coming up soon), I made a meal and when it was served, there was not a dirty dish in the sink. It was wonderful. Let me tell you, I really enjoyed that meal!
I was inspired to attempt cooking that way after I read this:
“My grandmother never left a dish on the stove or pot in the sink, always cleaning as she went, and it was often my job to fry and put away the dishes once they were washed.”
-from “Scars of a Chef” by Rick Tramonto.
The curve ball I hit this week
On a whim, I decided to cook a nice dinner for my family. Not to ambitious of a plan except, in an hour, I wanted to have a nice dinner on the table. With not much time to plan, I set to work with what we had. The main obstacle was that we did not currently have much in the way of grains, meat or veggies. There was not time to thaw any meat; dinner was after all in thirty minutes! I had to rely on what staples we had without getting crazy notions of what I would get at the store if I had time. I had to embrace the challenge, and do my best.
Thankfully, in our pantry we usually have a good supply of dried pasta and canned goods leftover from our summer garden the year before. So, here is what I did: While I waited for the pasta to cook, I made some aromatic tomato sauce with some fresh herbs and dried spices. I then slightly toasted some day old bread and spread on a bit of compound herb butter.
Your next meal, I challenge you to use what is around you. That might sound boring because then you will end up eating the “same old same old…” but do something different. Use your pantry with a new perspective.
For further reading, read “The Improvisational Cook” by Sally Schneider