I’ve been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. After my vacation in the US in June and early July, I was having a little trouble with motivation. The approaching new semester felt like a torture chamber. My YouTube browsing was getting unhealthy again. I kept saying to myself, “No more teaching after this year! I can’t take this anymore!” Those were not the thoughts I had a few months ago. So I began to wonder how I could start the day right and make the rest of the day more productive. I didn’t want to wake up with those negative thoughts in my head or throw away hours on YouTube every day.
One of my favorite books happens to be Toto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, a memoir by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi about her unconventional primary education in Japan. In the school she attended, founded by a kind and visionary educator, students started the day with the subject they loved best. Well, I enjoy cooking, so why not wake up and make cooking one of the first things I do in the morning?
I expected to slack off after a few tries, and I have come to accept, since the semester began and the theatre scene has been very busy, that it’s not something I can do every day. What I didn’t expect was the amount of fun, creativity, spontaneity, and improvisation involved! I’ve surprised myself over and over again these past few weeks. It helped that I started this project/ritual on the day that I had very little left in the kitchen. I kept at it till there was only one egg left in my fridge and started a new cycle when my fridge and pantry were well-stocked again for the following week.
It’s amazing how much I’m learning and improving with each dish. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I make myself take photos of these dishes and share them on Instagram. Having to think every time about the presentation forces me to become more resourceful, spontaneous, and creative about what I want to do with the recipe.
I’m also using this opportunity to form new habits, like tasting and getting to know every ingredient in the dish before cooking, and tasting the food every step of the way until it’s done. I still slip up, of course, but I have found that these habits help with the outcome of the dish, as well as my curiosity and desire to keep exploring. Sure, I don’t post everything I eat and cook, and I still cook just to eat, not to learn. But it’s been rewarding to go off recipe once in a while, to see and feel some kind of progress, and to treat my own kitchen like a classroom from time to time.
I’ve been sharing the results of this very-impromptu project of mine on Instagram. I’ve found that I really enjoy reading other people’s long Instagram posts. Some of them can be super fascinating and informative. And I must say I like writing a more detailed Instagram posts as well. Now that the semester has started, and I’m feeling more excited about teaching again, I’m going to try to #WakeUpAndCook at least twice a week. As for this blog, I also plan to #WakeUpandWrite twice a week as well (notice the absence of “at least” in this sentence). I need to treat writing and blogging with a little less preciousness, or else I’ll just keep kicking myself for not being consistent enough on this blog.
Before I sign off, I want to let you know that I’m in the process of preparing a very ambitious project for this blog and my Instagram account. I’m excited about it and can’t wait to share it with you all soon.
Check out the compilation of the successes and failures of #WakeUpAndCook below. And please follow me on Instagram, if you haven’t already, to track my progress. I promise to keep it coming twice a week, at least.
I'm trying out this thing where I make cooking one of the first things I do every morning. I need to go grocery shopping soon, but I have everything I need to make pancakes from scratch. This recipe is from "Everyday Food with Sarah Carey" YouTube channel. I've been using this recipe for a while now, and it usually works out fine as long as I am mindful of the temperature of the pan and the ingredients. This time I topped the pancakes with passion fruit and honey, a lovely combination. I'm not yet completely satisfied, however. So I plan to try more basic pancake recipes, and then expand to more complicated ones later. #homecooking #wakeupandcook #pancakes #honey #passionfruit #breakfast #dessertforbreakfast #instafood #yummy #everydayfood
My first ever French omelette and my first ever French-omelette fail. I tried to do it according to Julia Child's "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" book, where you swirl and jerk the pan towards you and the egg mass keeps folding and folding. But I think I let the pan get too hot because the egg wouldn't budge as I swirled and jerked the pan. So I used the rubber spatula to fold it into an omelette instead. It ended up too cooked for my liking. I was aiming for something more tender and creamier. Every chef seems to say that it is not an easy dish and requires lots of practice. I think I'm going to have fun trying different techniques and mastering the omelette though. The real French way is to sprinkle it with fresh herbs, but I don't have any in my kitchen at the moment. Instead, I topped the omelette with some cayenne pepper, cottage cheese, and a squeeze of lemon. Not so bad in the end. #frenchomelette #egg #breakfast #wakeupandcook #juliachild #juliaskitchenwisdom #frenchcooking #yummy #instafood #homecooking
What to do with the last egg in the fridge? Use it to experiment with a new cooking technique. This is Daniel Patterson's poached scrambled eggs, featured in Genius Recipes. I first thought it sounded gross but couldn't help being really intrigued by it. Basically, you beat the eggs, pour them into swirling water at a slow boil, cover, count to 20, get rid of any excess water, season, and eat. It turned out to be really easy. What's good about it is how unmessy it is. I'm not crazy about the texture though. And I can't say anything about the taste yet. You know why? I was so worried about the important steps of stirring the water and pouring the eggs into the water that I forgot that very essential step of salting the water. Next time. 😓 #wakeupandcook #eggs #homecooking #breakfast #poachedscrambledeggs #instafood #yummy #danielpatterson #geniusrecipes
Version 2 of "Red Spinach with Ginger and Coconut." It's really not a photogenic dish, but I got it right this time, using more spinach, tasting every step of the way, adding in a bit of fish sauce at a time. I love the creamy flavor the coconut milk brings to the dish, and toasted pine nuts are lovely as a topping, adding crunch and a little smokiness. #wakeupandcook #homecooking #redspinach #coconutmilk #lunchathome #lunch #eatreadrecord #smallvictoriescookbook #leafyvegetables #yummy #instafood #rice #asianfood #asianflavors
Oof! It's hard to photograph ice cream. But here's the final result of Julia Turshen's "Coconut 'Ice Cream' with Lime and Mango." It doesn't require an ice cream machine, and it is De. Li. Cious. I don't think I've ever been this excited about a recipe before. The flavor is incredible. It's so so so easy. I think it should be in Genius Recipes or some kind of food hall of fame. The recipe recommends you eat it with fresh mango, but the rainy season is an expensive time to buy fruit in Thailand. So instead, I made some candied ginger to accompany the ice cream and add a little spiciness. A good combo, I must say, even though the ice cream is really delicious by itself. #wakeupandcook #icecream #coconutmilk #coconutmilkicecream #lime #summerdessert #candiedginger #spicydessert #smallvictoriescookbook #delicious #yummy #kitchenexperiment #instafood #eatreadrecord #homecooking #homecook #homemadeicecream #homemadefood #maplesyrup