Tips for Kitchen Creativity

Corn.jpgFor busy people—and isn’t everyone busy these days?—cooking more at home can be a challenge. I know because I am as busy as I have ever been in my life and I am still cooking dinner almost every night. What I have learned in more than 40 years in the kitchen is that making the time often means making the most of the time I have. And that takes organization and planning but not necessarily writing out menus in advance.

It’s much more fun to balance that precision with flexibility that gives you a little more opportunity for creativity. It’s nice to be organized but more fun to be able to take what you have on hand and do something interesting with it.

This week I started with eight ears of corn and, though I have not used all of it yet, I am going to share with you some of the meals that will feature the corn. The first night we hosted my granddaughter and enjoyed corn-on-the-cob with melted butter and lots of pepper as part of our all-local meal of burgers and homemade slaw. I had five ears of cooked corn left over.

The next night I got creative with a hearty side to our local pork chops, which were small and grilled to perfection by our in-house grillmeister. Looking in the fridge for inspiration, I sautéed chopped onion and green pepper with cubed yellow squash and the corn from two of the ears that I had cooked ahead. I also added brown Jasmati rice (grown in the U.S. and sold under the brand Rice Select). Here’s a recipe.

Tomorrow night we will have quesadillas with a filling based on local ground beef, sautéed until brown with the remains of the previous mélange and the rice mixed in.

Later this week, I will make my very favorite Green Grocer Potato Salad and use the rest of the corn in it. I will probably serve this with grilled lemon chicken—the two recipes are so good together. It must be the lemon in both that carries the theme on the tongue.

I did not plan any of this in advance; I just knew that I would find some great ways to use the cooked corn. Cooking it all at once meant that it was ready to use and also that I had to boil a big pot of water only once for all those meals.

Being organized in the kitchen does takes time and experience to master, but thinking ahead is a little easier and over time will help you to relax and experiment in the kitchen. Then you can get organized and make better use of the time you have.

Photo by Sarah Sertic