Paleo cooking has given me a new creative outlet. It’s been fun to alter my cooking style to create meals that adhere to Paleo guidelines. Purchasing seasonal, locally grown ingredients at the Farmer’s Market has added an additional level of complexity to meal preparation.
In my mind, this is not a bad thing, it’s added challenge and creativity to a task that can become routine and boring. Instead of sitting down, planning a menu for the following week and then going to the store to purchase the items needed to prepare those meals, I go to the Farmer’s Market and purchase the available ingredients. Then I come up with a meal plan that utilizes the bounty I was able to gather.
I have not relied much on recipes for cooking for many years. I will get a concept in my mind, and then look for something similar in order to get a general idea about cook times and temperatures. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cookbooks. However, I use them more for entertainment (Food Porn) than I do for cooking. Cookbooks are also useful for providing new ideas for combinations of foods to put together. I do cook recipes from my cookbooks sometimes. I generally tweak them a bit to suit my tastes as well as the peculiarities of my cooking equipment.
When I started eating Paleo/Primal I purchased several cookbooks to help me figure out meals beyond a slab o’meat with a side of vegetables. That type of meal is wonderful sometimes, but can get repetitive and boring very quickly. I needed some inspiration and ideas on how to move beyond that.
Both of these books helped jump-start my Paleo cooking.
I have especially enjoyed Everyday Paleo. There are several good stuffing recipes which can be utilized for everything from winter squash, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers and more. This book inspired me to get a pressure cooker and see what I could do with it. The pressure cooker brings extremely thick pork chops, beets, winter squash and artichokes into the work night rotation. Without a pressure cooker these things take too long to cook for us to eat them during the week.
I’ll be doing a review of this book very soon. My initial reaction is that the sauce section is very creative and awesome. I like to use sauces in my cooking. In the past I’ve relied a lot on prepared sauces. Prepared sauces contain many ingredients that I have eliminated from my diet. I think I am going to enjoy making a lot of the Paleo Comfort Foods sauces and incorporating them into my gastronomic creations.
I’ll do a review of that book after I check it out. I love the authors’ blog, so I have high hopes for this book.
Cookbooks can be fun to look at, and nice to refer to on those occasions when the creative juices just aren’t flowing. Most of the time I free form cook. I look at the meats and vegetables that were available at the Farmer’s Market. I also have stock pantry items on hand at all time to fill in the gaps. I select a protein source and vegetable(s). Then I decide what cooking method and spices I will utilize to prepare the food.
When I was a young adult and new to cooking, I cooked almost exclusively from recipes. As I gained experience with cooking, and basic cooking techniques I moved away from using recipes. I cook more by feel now. If I do use a recipe, it’s usually a very revised and altered version of the original.
My advice to people who don’t have a lot of cooking experience is to get educated on basic cooking techniques. Once a working understanding is achieved of basic cooking techniques and their intended effects on the food, the only limit on what can be made is your creativity and imagination.
For those nights when you just can’t come up with an idea, Robb Wolf has put together a matrix that can help. It’s included in his book, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet . Select one item from the protein column, one from the fat column, and one or two items from the vegetable and spice columns. Voila! You have dinner.
Note: If you have any creative Paleo favorites you would like to share, tell us about them in the comments.