In a year that saw giants fall and small men prosper, saw families separate and dictators unite, and in which the parameters of the word “truth” were stretched to beyond breaking point, 2018 was not entirely without it’s brighter moments. As a movement, long, long overdue gained unprecedented momentum, so too did the hopeful call for positive change, borne from unimaginable horror. And while, from governing bodies to global warming, things often seemed bleak, it finally feels as though people are paying attention and ready to take meaningful action.
We hope that, amidst the chaos and blood boiling news reports, your year was sprinkled with a few morsels of magic and that you were brought, as we were, a multitude of opportunities to broaden your horizons and deepen your connections. Here, the members of the Cook Space team take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months and the many lessons we’re bringing into the year ahead, (and a few we can do with letting go of.)
One of the projects we’re most excited about is our Kickstarter campaign for our second round of new and improved Seize Your Days planners!! We were so delighted after our prototype sold out in a New York minute, we dove back into our design and developed an even more fantastic version for you all - while we think purposeful planning is worth practicing year round, why not use the New Year to prioritize a spiritual spring cleaning to make this the most delightful and delicious year yet. There are 30 days to get your hands on this GOOP and Cherry Bombe approved planner, so act now and we thank you for all of your beautiful support!
M I C H E L L E M A N N I X
A few things you can do to jump start your path to cooking more - and from a place of confidence and instinct in 2019
1. I think the best place to start is the mindset. By getting clear (and realistic) on what relationship to cooking and food you want to have in your life - from there you can establish the priority it will take in your life and you can begin to develop your own culinary expression based on the foods that you want to be eating and the skills, tools and time you need to make it happen.
2. Let go of recipes. Not completely but as a way to get to know the process of cooking more intimately so you can begin to understand the process of developing and building flavor. Use them as a starting point, reference and source of inspiration. How do I do that you may say? Think of something you love to eat, cook already - where you use a recipe, or something you’ve always wanted to cook.
3. Pay Attention. To everything. Then do something with the information. What do you order in restaurants? What flavors do you like and why? How often are you ordering out? How does that make you feel physically and emotionally? Use. What. You. Have. Use your common sense. If you need something to start with...Boil noodles, add butter, parmesan and pepper. In many restaurants in NYC that’s a $17 bowl of cacio pepe. In my house its 15 minutes of meditative time in my kitchen, a warm bowl of goodness that is cheap AF. Sprinkle on some bacon, parsley and add a glass of wine and its notched up a whole other level. Eat it out of a pan with absolutely no guilt what. So. ever.
4. Start to develop your style. Your own culinary expression. We do it with everything else - our clothes, our apartments, our music - why don’t we look to ourselves more for our inspiration and expression. What do you like to eat and why. What food systems do you want to be and are currently supporting?
5. Get in shape. We mean your skills and your mindset. Practice. Just like anything else you only get better by doing. So start one meal, snack at a time. See it as a fun process in the ever evolving journey of developing your skills, palate, understanding and JOY in cooking and feeding ourselves and others. There is no shortage of videos, tips, recipes - what we need more of is pushing ourselves to figure it out. Use what we have, what we like and what is in season. And most importantly to make it a priority and to do it for ourselves, each other and the planet.
6. Get your space and ‘tools’ in order. Make sure you either sharpen your knife or get a good one and know how to hold it. From there I don’t think you need much more than a cutting board, a couple pans, Olive/Canola oil, salt and pepper and the mindset of possibility and fun - to begin cooking anything. I’m so machine, extra tools averse that I’ll avoid those dishes that ask me to use them. It takes me out of the flow I get into when I lose myself in the process of throwing something together and building and developing flavor as I go. Go through your cabinets. All of them. Your freezer and refrigerator too. Make it a fun exercise in not only building awareness but in building your culinary muscles with the creativity you will have from using things up. Identify patterns in what you buy and why. Find ways to use them both new and old. Organize your pantry. Use it up and find the joy in creating, being resourceful, frugal and in the feeling you get from cleaning out anything and starting fresh.
E L I Z A Z W E I G
Studio & Event Manager
Since I started working at Cook Space in June of this year, the most important lesson I’ve learned is to taste as you go and adjust along the way.
As someone whose home cooking skills have previously consisted of Top Ramen and scrambled eggs, this was actually a mind-blowing realization. I’ve always been able to follow a recipe, but until I learned to rely on my own palette and intuition to guide me, the outcome was only suitable for the person who was dictating the recipe. Not for me. Maybe I like it saltier, spicier, sweeter. That’s okay, because I’m the one eating the dish at the end of the day. And you know what? My food has already started tasting better. I’m not making anything more complicated, but I must say that it’s f-cking delicious.
Being able to trust my gut and to pay attention to my instincts has always been something that I’ve struggled with. I’ve always been easily influenced by outside opinions and would frequently question myself despite my frustration when most of them time I was right all along. I’d previously chalked this up as personality quirk, a debilitation I’d have to live with as part of being me.
But in the tangible act of allowing myself to trust my intuition inside the kitchen, I’ve given myself permission to trust my intuition outside of the kitchen as well. It’s been a liberating experience, to say the least and I have a feeling 2019 will be my most delicious year to date.
T O M C O U G H L A N
Make the most of passive cooking to do your active cooking. If some takes a long time to roast or braise, get it cooking while you get everything else ready. This way everything is done at the same time.
If it grows together it goes together! If ingredients come from the same place, at the same time of year, they almost always will taste good together.
Shake your garlic to peel it. The easiest way to peel garlic is take a whole bulb and press the top down just enough to break it apart. Place the whole thing in a container, or two bowls held together, and shake it really hard, like your shaking a cocktail. This should remove about 80% of the garlic skin from the cloves on the first shot.
Toast bread with other herbs and spices. One of my favorite dishes we came up with this year was “ginger bread” in our Market-to-Table class. We melted butter with grated ginger and herbs (similar to how you would make garlic bread) and toasted it in the oven. It was great and I plan to make “ginger bread” again!
Baking powder for crisp. It increases the pH which helps foods to caramelize better and get crispier.
Grandma hands for soft food. Does your grandma make the softest pasta or cookies? Its not because she got hands like a plumber. So be delicate when you mix and knead for a softer final product.
Vodka and seltzer for a flaky pie dough. Alcohol has a lower boiling point then water so will evaporate faster adding to a flaky dough. Seltzer water already has air in it so also will help for a flakier dough.
Pie dough should look like crumbled parmesan cheese. I don’t know who decided that pie dough should look like peas after you add the butter and water but I have never gotten one to do so and my pie doughs never came out right. Until an instructor here said it should look like crumbled parmesan, some big, some small, that I finally made a good pie crust!
Vegan Shepards Pie. We made a vegan shepherds pie for our vegan class which is a huge hit and a favorite of mine. We used coconut milk and oil to make the mashed potatoes and a mix of root vegetables, beans, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and spices to make the filling.
Roast that Jack-O-Lantern! Who said carving pumpkins can’t be delicious? Rather than letting it root on your porch, after carving a beautiful jack-o-lantern season it with salt and coriander and rub the inside with butter and roast it in the oven. Save those seeds to toast off as a snack as well!
Take something major away to increase your creativity! Do you always use garlic in a dish? Immediately grab black pepper and lemons for a dish without even thinking? Then take them out of your pantry. Use other spices, try some vinegar, replace garlic with ginger or turmeric and you’ll immediately add some new tricks up your sleeve
Whether you’re partying with your posse this December 31st, or celebrating solo with Ben, Jerry and Bridget Jones (no judgement, that sounds heavenly, TBH), we wish you a wonderful start to your 2019, full of love, laughter and new adventures.
T H E C O O K S P A C E C R E W