Happy New Year! My "word" for the year (do you all pick a word for the year?) is "creativity." I feel like creativity comes to me in endless waves that inspire my designs in the studio, the kitchen, and in day-to-day life. These waves of inspiration are sometimes so frequent that they keep me awake at night. My mind swirls with questions:
"What if I try this?"
"What would happen if . . . "
"Could that really work?"
It can be tricky to stay focused and pick one idea to roll with, but I'm ever grateful for the creative energy that flows my way. It is a source of inspiration that I want to share with all of you!
And to share it, I must start by saying:
You. Are. Creative.
I don't care if your first grade teacher told you weren't an artist because you couldn't draw an apple or your business partner shut down your ideas or your schedule is so busy you've lost touch with your creative outlet (well, I do care. Of course. What I mean is that this can no longer be your excuse to not create!).
We human beings by our very nature are creative! Your creative expression is where your personal power resides - so let it out! Let it flow! It doesn't have to be in a traditional mode of art like painting, photography, or printmaking. It can be dancing, singing, parenting, teaching, and - cooking!
This is where Creative Kitchen comes in.
You see, in 2018 I kept hearing comments from my friends and health coaching clients about the kitchen. Things like:
"Cooking at home takes too much time."
"I'll get bored eating the same thing all week."
"I cook for myself and it's lonely."
"I hate meal planning. I never know what to make."
Sound familiar? I used to feel all of these things, too. But now? I LOVE cooking! It has become such a grounding, relaxing, and fun task! It wasn't always this way.
I grew up in Oklahoma City with little connection to my food. Don't get me wrong - I LOVED to eat! But I gave zero thought to where my food was coming from, how it was affecting my body, or how to cook a variety of meals.
It was only when I moved to Minnesota for school that my eyes opened to the world of farming and the mesmerizing beauty of food! I couldn't get enough of this beauty: I began drawing, cooking, and eating new foods just because of the patterns present in the cross-section of a carrot, pomegranate, cabbage.
I set a goal to cook my way through a full cookbook (Isa Does It: I got through most of it; still workin'), draw every veggie in sight (a lifelong task), and share my cooking concoctions with my community (they were always very polite regardless of the outcome).
This transformation in my life: from cooking being a duty to a delight is why I've created Creative Kitchen 2019. Creative Kitchen gives you 52 prompts for renewed inspiration in your kitchen with meals that you actually want to make. I am not here to give you a prescribed meal plan. I am here to give you a variety of fun ideas that get you outside of your traditional way of cookin' or get you into the kitchen in the first place!
You see, the main thing I want for you in 2019 is to get. on. team. you. I want you to tap into your self-sufficient skills through creativity and cooking because when you tap into your creativity, you tap into your desires, your voice, your immense capability to take care of yourself, your life, your health, and your joy.
I want to see you tackle a dish in the kitchen with ease, flour all over your apron and countertops, lots of laughter, and maybe even some $5 red wine from Trader Joe's (I am a total advocate for local food, but it's all about balance, right?). You have the power! Sound good?
Also, if you're cooking alone (which I often am in the kitchen - and you're right, it does feel lonely at times), Creative Kitchen will give you a community of folks who are cooking alongside you from different kitchens across the state, country, (world!) [tag your creations with a photo and #creativekitchen2019 and #printsandplantspress on social media]. It'll be like one big huge kitchen party all year long (because let's face it, any party you do go to, everyone ends up in the kitchen, anyway). Creative Kitchen is just like that, but with less clean up.
I know cooking can feel like one more "to-do" at the end of a long work day, but my hope is that Creative Kitchen will create a renewed sense of energy for this task that is so essential to your health, your connection to our body (you've only got one!), your land (yeah! That earth you're livin' on), and your community (hey, why not have a cooking party? A few prompts will encourage this!).
Y'all. This sense of connection and health is not just a distant dream. It is a total possibility! Food, cooking, farming - these have given me an immense sense of balance, connection, and joy in my life and I want to share that with you.
I'm not saying you have to go out and farm (though the fields do hold life's secrets). I'm just sayin' you gotta get back in the kitchen and cook to your heart's content!
So this is my hope for Creative Kitchen - I hope to:
-give you renewed inspiration to cook at home about once a week (ditch eating out so much: it's more of a drag on your wallet and your wellness)
-help you discover new recipes and flavors that you totally fall for
-create memories, joy, and fun in the kitchen alongside a community of creative cooks (for real. It doesn't have to be so serious).
So, play the music, dance the dance, spill the oil, drink the wine, burn the garlic (it happens to the best of us), and laugh through it all.
I'm waxing on, and the whole reason I hopped on here was to tell you about my first week with Creative Kitchen 2019!
I chose to tackle the prompt, "A dish that brings you comfort." My family visited Santa Fe for the holidays (a first! So beautiful and so fun) and then dispersed back to their respective homes across the country. As I shifted back into my independent routine while snow dumped buckets of silence on the land, I entered full hibernation mode. That meant I was craving one thing and one thing only:
So, I made Chickpea Green Chile Stew from Thug Kitchen 101 (a lovely cookbook Christmas gift!). Recipe is below. Like below below.
And the verdict is in: Spicy. Comforting. Delicious.
I came across this cookbook a few months ago at the bookstore and instantly fell in love. I was laughing out loud as I sat on the floor and thumbed through the recipes while taking pictures to try at home later (I'm thrifty, okay?).
I've seen Thug Kitchen's previous cookbooks and heard good things, but I especially like this edition because it is focused on meals that are plant-based (that's me), nutritious, and quick (I'm talkin' most are 30 min or less and some are 5 min or less). AND they get after some food justice issues with facts about the fast food industry like this excerpt:
"As you'd expect, fast-food restaurants are only interested in your wallet. Your health and waistline mean fuck all to them. They'll keep peddling shitty food under the guise of efficiency until consumers stop lining up to buy it and start cooking at home (cue me: hell, yeah!). The people who dream up the new items that land on fast-food menus are not chefs or dietitians. THEY'RE. MOTHER. FUCKING. MARKETERS. They want you to order their newest, most ridiculous sounding meal, talk about it on social media, and then just keep buying that garbage until they scheme up the next dish to push the limits of good taste and caloric density.
The Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell is the best example of this. That travesty of a taco made over $375 million in its first year on the market. That one taco-pocalypse made Taco Bell more than 7,000 times the average household income in the United States in one goddamn year. ONE. DAMN. TACO. The over-the-top ad campaign, branding, name, and addictive tastes are all designed for one reason: to make those rich motherfuckers even richer.
So stop handing over your hard-earned cash to those shitlords and start rewarding yourself with some of the best meals you've eaten in a long time. Get on Team You."
You can see by the excerpt that this book is no nonsense and likes to cuss. A lot. It's badass. And encouraging. And funny. And just freakin' real. Sometimes cooking, especially vegan-cooking, can feel so intimidating by it's beauty and presentation and perfection. That's not always reality! Sometimes plant-based eating, hey eating in general, means throwin' a can of beans with some rice when you get home at 9 PM and calling it good.
When you cook with Creative Kitchen, let go of how it looks, enjoy how it tastes, and know that it's doin' your body & soul some good.
If you take away anything from Creative Kitchen, take away this:
Get. On. Team. You. This is your life, your body, and your health. Treat it with respect. Get munchin' at home.
Here's the recipe, folks:
Chickpea Green Chile Stew
from Thug Kitchen 101
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people (I got at least 6 servings from this)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 yellow potatoes, skin on, diced (about 2.5 cups)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder (I used local chile powder from Jesus Guzman at Santa Fe Farmers' Market)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup roasted Hatch chiles, or 2 cans (4 oz each) (I used frozen, peeled green chile I had leftover from my partner's farm in Espanola, New Mexico - it's got a kick!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups veggie broth
3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 cans (15 oz each), drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and black pepper
Toppings: chopped cilantro, avocado chunks, lime wedges (for squeezin')
1) In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and potatoes and let that shit simmer until the onions look a little golden in some places, 5-7 minutes. Add the jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, and salt and stir everything up and get those spices warm, about a minute. Add the chiles, garlic, and veggie broth, cover, and let it all simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
2) Add the chickpeas and lime juice and cook for another minute. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and whateverthefuck you think it needs.
3) Serve right away with some chopped cilantro and avocado chunks on top and extra lime wedges on the side.
*Want this kinda creamy? Stick an immersion blender in this shit when it's all done and blend up half the soup while still leaving plenty of chunks. (**I did this and yes, do it).
Come back next week for the other prompt I went after:
"A dish for breakfast."
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