Categories
Mucho Gusto

A Coconut Shrimp Creation

Some people simply have a unique dexterity for design—an aptitude for artistry that extends to each modality of their lives. My mother, Lisa, and her friend, Helen, embody such distinct nature. While their professional lives reflect a gift for fabricating magnificent spaces with exquisite interior design, their talent refuses to switch to idle in other dimensions of their days. Their creative minds constantly remain simmering, awaiting new opportunities to cultivate taste, beauty, and movement. 

Their lives are their labs, every action an experiment. This recipe recounts their most recent undertaking: a test kitchen for sweet and savory coconut shrimp. This dish presents the perfect summer appetizer with the ease of skillet. Typically, coconut shrimp is fried, but this recipe works to revise its traditional preparation to create an appetezier that is fit to anyone’s cooking ability, without the fuss of frying. With simple ingredients and a few steps, this dish is easy to make but guarantees to portray anyone behind the stove as a widely-experienced creator of cuisine. 

The credit for this recipe can be served to Helen and Lisa, who delivered the perfect balance of savory and sweet in this dish to bring us a new twist on coconut shrimp — just in time to reacquaint ourselves wish seafood for the season. 

Sweet and Savory Coconut Shrimp

Ingredients:

2 pounds colossal shrimp uncooked, frozen (approximately 30 pieces)

½ cup liquid coconut oil 

¼ cup rice wine vinegar 

1-2 tablespoons hot honey

2 tablespoons lemon marmalade 

¼ teaspoon smoked sea salt 

3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce

2 cups coconut flakes, sweetened 

½ cup salted butter, melted

¼ cup chive blossoms for garnish 

Directions:

First, defrost the shrimp by running them under cool water in a strainer or leave them out at room temperature until thawed. If not already done, rinse the shrimp and remove the shells.

To prepare the marinade, combine the coconut oil, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce, lemon marmalade, hot honey, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. Taste the marinade to make sure there is a balance of sweetness, heat, and salt.

Place the shrimp and marinade in a sealed gallon plastic bag to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Always remember that fish doesn’t need to marinate as long as meat.

Once sufficiently marinated, heat your grill or grill pan on high. Lightly oil the surface. Using a pair of tongs, remove the shrimp and place them on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until pink and the edges begin to caramelize. Remove the shrimp and place them in a bowl while you complete the other steps.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, toast the coconut, constantly stirring until the coconut begins to brown. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave. When the coconut is toasted, remove it from the burner, and add the melted butter and hot shrimp to the pan. Toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, place the shrimp on an oblong platter. Once in place with the slotted spoon, place more coconut on top. Garnish with the beautiful edible chive purple poms. Serve with toothpicks at room temperature, and enjoy!

Categories
Mucho Gusto

A Crispy Crowd-Pleaser: Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

 “The brussels sprouts never fall from the favorite,” is a thought that I would never expect to stir in my mind as I deliberate what to bring for the perfect potluck performance. 

For most of my life, brussel sprouts only entertained the twiddling of my fork on the margins of my plate. They were never to be eaten or looked at, only self-served as a politeness before exclaiming that “I’m too stuffed for more.” Needless to say, I would have never considered them as more than the most distasteful green vegetable—a competitive title to receive by my judgment. 

My mother tried everything to make them more palatable to my pickiness, even going as far as to wrap them in a circumference of crispy bacon but to no avail. I planned to abstain from their bland, unappetizing character. 

And so, I successfully avoided them for several years, all until my freshman year in college, when an upperclassmen teammate cooked them for dinner and insisted that their caramelization in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup would guarantee I change my mind. 

Now, they consistently perform as a personal favorite and my most confident crowd-pleaser. This recipe adapts and honors the first bite of brussels I enjoyed, with my additional lessons from trying to recreate the perfectly crisp, salty-sweet mouthful which assures to adjust any anti-brussels attitude. 

Ingredients:

1 pint brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 425℉. Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts. Slice each brussels sprout lengthwise (from top to bottom) once or twice depending on its size. I have found that only slicing the larger brussel sprouts in half makes it more difficult for them to crisp and cook evenly. Since you will typically grab a mixed bag of brussels sprouts, it is important to survey your sprouts and decide which ones will need an extra slice. Once cut, move the brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze, and maple syrup. Stir well so that the ingredients can mix evenly. Pour the dressing over the brussels sprouts. With a large spoon, toss the sprouts until they are evenly coated in the dressing.

Evenly distribute the brussel sprouts onto a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the brussel sprouts in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the sprouts are beginning to crisp on the edges. Be sure to shake the pan to toss the sprouts every 5-10 minutes so they cook uniformly. Once cooked and crisped to your liking, remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of feedfeed

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Homemade Garlic Butter

Consumed by a need to overachieve, I often find myself with a constant craving for complexity. The incessant demand to consistently create an innovative and sophisticated palate coincides with my refusal to accept a shorthand of perfection. 

Recently, I’ve noticed how these tendencies manifest themselves in my cooking—a desire for elaborate recipes and flavors which present themselves as manifold. With a vast assortment of ingredients and possibilities, it is easy to entangle ourselves in the complicated. Yet, in an effort to resist my inclination to overachieve, I’ve sought to revert to the simple and truly appreciate the bounty in the basic. 

In order to fully avoid the persuasion of the perplexing, I’ve chosen to prepare and savor the simplest spread of all—butter. Butter is distinctly a commonplace in many of our meals, with its genius largely ignored; but there’s nothing that quite matches the comforting enjoyment of its soft and smooth texture that’s accompanied by the perfect complement of salty and sweet. Whether it coats a warm slice of sourdough or melts perfectly on your steak and roasted vegetables, it serves a crucial function. 

This recipe is simple yet possesses unlimited potential as you can decide to omit any of the additional ingredients such as the garlic or parsley or include your own personal flair with the addition of honey or truffle. While butter is rather simple to make, its homemade preparation guarantees gratification. From this experience, I’ve learned that more often than not, it’s the creation of small and simple things that leave us feeling the most accomplished.

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon salt, preferably flaky sea salt

4 cloves garlic

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Directions:

Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer, or if you intend to use a hand-held mixer, a mixing bowl with tall sides to avoid spillage. Begin stirring at a low speed, gradually increasing the speed to beat the cream as the mixture starts to thicken. 

As the mixture starts to resemble whipped cream, continue to mix at increasing speed until the cream reveals the thick, lightly clumpy butter consistency. At this point, you should be able to see the separation between the fat solids and the liquid buttermilk that rests on the bottom of the bowl. 

Pour the mixture into a fine-mesh strainer to allow the liquid buttermilk to drain, leaving you with thick, creamy, homemade butter. The drained buttermilk is useful in other recipes, including pasta sauces, if you would like to reserve it for later. When you are left with the aggregation of fatty solids in your strainer, continue to rinse under cold water to allow the butter to further mold together. 

With your hands, work to shape the butter into a ball, place it in the container of your choice, and move it to the refrigerator for 30 mins to cool. During this time, finely mince your garlic cloves and chop your parsley. Then remove the butter from the refrigerator and fold in the garlic, parsley, and salt until evenly combined. 

Spread your delicious butter spread on a warm piece of sourdough or any delicious food of your choice (it is just as delectable by itself as well). Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Cooking Classy

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Truffle Pesto Pasta

Returning to my cinder-block dorm apartment on a sub-20℉ Boston day rarely encourages a homemade meal that requires me to leave the comfort of my couch and cozy blankets. Yet, as last week witnessed another devastating Groundhog Day turnout, with the celebrated Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter, a new cold-weather recipe is a must.

While we cannot forgo our down jackets and our clunky snow boots, we can find a way to delight in the dreary. I have always found that the best recipes deliver their delicious aromas down the hall, and allow us to stir and simultaneously warm our hands and blushing cheeks as we stand pensively over the stove. 

This recipe is what I’d like to consider an elevated mac n’ cheese, a revamping of the most classic comfort food. This truffle pesto pasta calls upon the mild, nutty flavor of Swiss cheese to complement the rich flavor of basil, pine-nut pesto, and truffle salt. The ingredients in the sauce guarantee a creamy, and soft texture. And while the mix of pesto and Swiss cheese provides a light coating to the macaroni, they caution to overpower your taste buds and drown the pasta. Baking this dish with a final layering of Swiss cheese is the perfect finishing touch, in addition to the finely chopped fresh basil that gives a professional flair to a simple meal. 

Unfortunately, the next few weeks promise to test our willingness to prepare dinner ourselves, with the ease of dashing dinner to our door at our fingertips. However, this dish reminds us that we hold the skills to savor, even in the event of seasonal sorrow. 

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons salted butter

½ cup whole milk

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

½ cup (4 oz) pesto

16 oz macaroni pasta, or the shape of your choice

1 teaspoon truffle salt

¼ cup pasta water

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

Finely mince the four cloves of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic once the olive oil begins to sizzle. Add the salted butter to the skillet, stirring slowly in combination with the olive oil and garlic. Once the butter is melted, add the whole milk and ¾ cup of grated Swiss cheese, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. I often use a macaroni-style of pasta for this recipe, as the shape helps scoop the sauce in every bite, but any type of pasta can be used. 

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the pesto and truffle salt to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the sauce, saving the pasta water. Cook the sauce for one minute and then add ¼ cup of the pasta water. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes, as the starchy pasta water helps to bind and thicken the sauce. Transfer the pasta to an oven-safe dish, add the last ¼ cup of Swiss cheese to the top of the dish, and place in the oven to broil for 3 minutes. Serve hot with chopped, fresh basil as a flavorful garnish. Enjoy!

cover photo courtesy of odd box

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Snowball Cookies

‘Tis the season of painfully cliché Hallmark movies: the constant reworking of the same plot line tinted with near-overwhelming Christmas cheer. The holiday finds the return of an independent working girl to her small, gossiping hometown to coincidentally reconnect with a high-school not-so-sweetheart. Christmas carols and gift wrapping turn into an irritating almost-kiss under the mistletoe. The directors test our patience, leaving us waiting until the last two minutes of the movie to see their lips finally collide under the first fall of snow. 

Everything in these movies approaches a sense of being extraordinarily overdone, but nevertheless, they perfect the feeling of home. Each film bestows the warm, cozy, holiday atmosphere complemented by the recurrent scene of Christmas cookies by the fire light. Every time I switch the channel to Hallmark, there is an incessant desire to have cookies on standby and to fantasize about awakening to Boston beautifully frosted the next morning. 

As temperatures are quickly dropping, I am longing to see the first fall of snow to remind me why the exchange of a light jacket for my bulky puffer coat, that still fails to keep me warm, is worth it. Images of how nice it ought to be to attend college in Florida run through my mind, but the magnificent glisten of snow in Boston calls me to be thankful for the unwanted chill. Hopefully, we will be seeing snow sooner rather than later, but until then, these snowball cookies guarantee to satisfy our winter appetites and give us something to reach for when our televisions tease us with the perfect holiday setting. And even better, they will promise to leave us merry as exam season rolls around. 

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for rolling/dusting the cookies

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

½ to 2 cups ground pecans 

Directions

In a large bowl, cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and lightly warm in the microwave or, preferably, remove the butter from the refrigerator, allowing it to soften for 10 minutes at room temperature. If you choose to microwave the butter, be careful not to heat it for too long; you are looking for a soft but not melted consistency. Next, cream the butter with an electric mixer on its lowest speed setting or whisk by hand until you see the fluffy texture that is desired. 

Add in the remaining ingredients—the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and ground nuts. I typically use pecans, however, you can adjust the choice of nuts to your preference. Ground walnuts and almonds are also commonly used with this recipe. Mix the ingredients well and then chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 325℉. Roll out the dough into 1-inch balls and place evenly on ungreased baking sheets. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in confectioners’ sugar to give them that dusty, snow-ball appearance. Let the cookies cool, and then roll them in the sugar once again to make sure they are evenly coated. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Delish

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Veggie Bolognese

Earlier this morning, I was still mourning the tragic loss of my sense of taste. Sipping on my black coffee — a cup that I would never choose to drink on an alternate occasion but not for the fact that its utter lack of flavor resisted any amelioration by a sweetener or cream — I may have felt a tear slide down my flushed cheek. 

Testing positive for COVID-19 has been quite the teaching moment. As I tried to look on the bright side of things, I imagined the extra opportunities to cook with the absurd amount of lonesome time on my hands, yet I found myself disappointed. Cooking felt useless when the meals I plated all tasted like, well, nothing, and the process itself consumed all my energy. Yet, this experience has shown me how inextricably intertwined my life is with food. It has allowed me to be grateful for the joy it brings me in the evenings, with my neck crooked over the stove, and in the mornings, as I indulge in my first bite of oatmeal. 

Fortunately, my pathetic reminiscence of food and cooking was put to a seizing halt, as on the night of the seventh day after testing positive with COVID, my taste buds reawakened, in fulfillment of my deepest desire: they ascended into flavor heaven. 

So, here, brought to you live from my quarantine kitchen, is my rendition of a vegetable bolognese that promises to resurrect the most muted of taste buds. To be completely honest, this recipe is a by-product of “wow is this really all I have in the fridge” and “oh it feels good to smell oregano again. But I was significantly impressed at the somewhat random occurrence in the saucepan. Still, given its creation by my mildly unreliable taste buds at the moment, if it is a miss, I urge you to blame COVID-19 and not the cook. 

The dish is perhaps a misuse of its title as bolognese without its classic meat base, but if you’re looking to enjoy this Italian cuisine favorite in a vegetarian style (by choice or convenience) it mimics many of the same hearty flavors with its robust spices.

Ingredients

2 red bell peppers

1 package baby bella mushrooms (roughly 10 mushrooms)

1 white onion

Olive oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 box pasta

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ tablespoon dried basil leaves

Parmesan cheese to taste

Instructions

Thinly slice the mushrooms and peppers lengthwise, and then dice the white onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and hot red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons of pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. I often use a shell-style of pasta for this recipe, as the shape helps scoop the sauce in every bite, but any type of pasta can be used. 

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce.  Add the nutmeg and basil to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.  When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the sauce, saving the pasta water. Cook the sauce for one minute and then add ¼ cup of the pasta water. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes, as the starchy pasta water helps to bind and thicken the sauce. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese on the side. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Dishingouthealth

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Mucho Gusto Uncategorized

Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

The recent semesters—remarkably short of socialization—deliver an unmistakable sense of urgency to compensate for lost time. There is a distinct flavor of the moment that demands us to take lessons from our quarantine kitchens, indulge our taste buds, and endeavor in entertaining and gathering again. 

This recipe comes from trial and error and the nearly forgotten, yet adorned, busyness of rummaging around the kitchen, awaiting the impending arrival of guests. Inspired by the spirit of entertaining and by the curiosity of flavor, I tried my hand in making bacon-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates this past week. It’s an appetizer that I biasedly chose due to its glorious description of bacon-wrapped, but also, in part, by reason of its more creative nickname as “devils on horseback.” 

Something of its nontraditional title reminded me of the forthcoming autumn season, humorously prompting me to imagine the headless horseman. Also, I’ve found that something about food named after devils rarely disappoints. And even more so than its playful name, these dates fit perfectly for fall with their warmth when they are pulled right out of the oven, and with the tasty explosion of their diverse set of flavors and textures that arrive in every bite. 

For this recipe, the sweet and chewy dates contrast with the tangy, smooth, and earthy flavor and texture of the goat cheese. The crisped, caramelized bacon on the exterior completes the bite. And the finely chopped candied pecans on top perfectly balance the saltiness of the bacon. These dates pair exceptionally well with the accompaniment of a charcuterie board. Not only do they provide a delicious addition, but guarantee to draw in one’s eye on an appetizer spread. 

So whether you are entertaining your friends or just looking to cook for yourself, I’d highly recommend testing this recipe. Who doesn’t like to gloat about the amazing date they had the other night?

Ingredients:

6 ounces goat cheese (1 small log)

24 Medjool dates

12 slices thinly sliced bacon

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup brown sugar

Kosher salt 

½ cup candied pecans

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Split the dates in half lengthwise, being sure not to slice them all the way through. After removing the pit, stuff each date with goat cheese, just enough for the dates to still be able to close with its contents. Then slice your strips of bacon in half, making the pieces more fitted to wrap around each date. After wrapping each date with bacon, puncture the dates with toothpicks to hold the bacon strips in place, and then move them to the prepared baking sheet. 

Once the dates are separated on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle them with honey and lightly sprinkle them with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt. The coating of honey and brown sugar will help the bacon caramelize in the oven. Finely chop the candied pecans, sprinkling them on top as well. Bake the dates for 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp to your liking, remove from the oven, and allow time to cool. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Walder Wellness

Categories
Essays

The Sixth Love Language

In the ceremonious birthday week of my mother, I’ve come to reflect on her most distinct love language—food. My mother is a leading exemplar of the argument that food is, in fact, the sixth love language, posed next to touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Elegant and poised, she softens our hearts with beautiful meals that are never served on a cold plate. However similar, this love language label is not to be confused with “acts of service.” Her cooking is to be enjoyed as a collection of metaphorical words in its own right, strung together as an equally magnificent sentence of affection. 

There is something unique about food that defines itself to be a new dimension in expressing love. It is an indescribable, all-encompassing experience, when performed, shared, and enjoyed. There was once a time when I was young, aflame by my own feminist ideology, and holding onto a slight resentment of cooking, hating comments that combine a woman’s worth with the quality of her cuisine. Pulling away from the kitchen in fear of becoming tailored to an ill-fitting, pre-modern identity, I disserviced myself in a way, inhibiting the commencement of my favorite hobby. Now, learning to reweave the conversation, I have replaced the idea that cooking is a responsibility with the idea that what I produce in the close corners of my kitchen carries a derivative of affection that I am not forced to, but desire to share with others. It is expressive and filling, in more than one way. 

I thank my mother for teaching me to love cooking and how to show love through cooking. Her plated meals, and her beautiful glide through the kitchen, radiates a passionate warmth. Despite the common linkage between cooking and motherhood, I love to see how she adopts it as her personally chosen language of love for everyone she meets. Now, living apart from my mother, I aim to recreate the tender atmosphere she nurtures in our home. Every Sunday morning witnesses me dancing in the kitchen in harmony with the percussion of my spatula on the counter. The symphony of the hour complemented by the sizzle of butter in the pan and, of course, the quintessential and corny accompaniment of Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” playing its soft tune in the background. Palms down on the counter, slowly tapping my fingers, I await the browning edges of gooey batter, perfectly content in my patience. Where restlessness finds me almost everywhere else—grocery store aisles, books with elongated plots, and slow traffic in Chestnut Hill—cooking pancakes pauses time and pleases me with a sense of peace as I think of others’ pending smiles and satisfied stomachs.

From all this reflection, my current penny thought is this: of course, you should make an effort to cook for others if you wish, but also let others cook for you. The catch is that you should make sure to sit and watch. There is a perfect mutualism present in this event. Keeping my mother company as she prepares a meal for me (and vice versa) arrives in synonymy with a sentiment of love. I’ve spent too many evenings tucked away while someone else is making a meal for me, missing out on the unmatched experience of seeing someone show me affection in their favorite frame. 

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Grilled Corn Summer Salad

The perennial 4th of July menu: hamburgers, hot dogs, with a side-act accompaniment of corn on the cob. While the Independence Day tradition carries an abundance of nostalgia that our taste buds savor, I’d argue that even the classics yearn for an upgrade. 

Of all the summer staples, I have always found a hassle with corn on the cob. Butter dripping down my face, an awkward turn of the cob, and far too many kernels getting stuck in my teeth. For me, eating corn on the cob always tastes like indulgence at an uncomfortable expense. And cutting the corn off the cob with a plastic knife on a flimsy paper plate is always a challenge. Plus, the act of doing so guarantees to be followed by the glares of those who ask, “What are you, five-years-old?,” and the subsequent arrival of my blushing cheeks that can prelude white and blue. 

This grilled summer corn salad promises to please those who want to refurbish their neighborhood cookout spread, or those who simply have wrestled with tricky cobs of corn long enough, like myself. The best thing about corn on the cob is that its preparation is effortless. This fresh corn side remains easy to make, serve, and most importantly, easy to eat. 

This dish introduces a hint of lime and cilantro, which along with a slight bite of red onion perfectly complement the fresh flavors of the corn.  Red bell peppers and sweet cherry tomatoes add substance and a variety of textures to the salad, creating the perfect spoonful. For spice-loving crowds, chopped jalapeño can be woven into its fresh flavors, and for those who want to transform the side into a centerpiece, the dish superbly matches with a bowl of cold orzo pasta. The recipe that I introduce below is a wonderfully simple rendition of the dish, yet it is easily adaptable to any occasion.

Ingredients:

5 ears of corn

1 red bell pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup red onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 lime

¼ cup of cilantro

Preheat the grill to 425 ℉. Shuck a few layers of the husks—the leafy green covering—off the five ears of corn. Leaving a couple of thin layers on, wrap each ear in tin foil and place on the grill to cook on each side for about four minutes. Once cooked, uncover the corn ears from the tin foil and place them directly on the grill for two minutes on each side to lightly blacken the kernels. Remove from the grill and place on a plate to cool. Without a grill, you can also easily prepare the corn by placing it in a large, tall pot of boiling water for roughly six minutes. 

Dice your peppers, red onion, and halve your cherry tomatoes. Once the ears of corn are cool, cut the corn off of the cobs by placing the narrowed end of the ear on your cutting board and slicing downward with a large knife perpendicular to the cob. Make sure to break up the kernels from one another after cutting. Place the ingredients in a large serving bowl.

Drizzle olive oil and squeeze the lime over the fresh ingredients. Add salt and pepper and toss the corn salad to make sure it is evenly coated in the olive oil and lime juice. Chop up the cilantro and mix it through the dish. Serve and enjoy!

Cover Image

Categories
Features

Culinary Creativity at Local Cape Cod Farms

With every item and ingredient ever-so accessible in long, overstretched grocery store aisles, sometimes I feel as if my culinary creativity is slipping from my grasp. With every option and possibility at my fingertips, I find myself falling into the same patterns, looking at the same shopping list, and never forced to think critically or creatively to innovate.

We all fall victim to shrinking to what we are comfortable with—the same meals, the same clear-cut path through Trader Joe’s including exactly 7 turns, and 11 stops. However, have you ever sighed in mourning of the creativity you may have lost over the years? Do you desire the encouragement to still be as creative as you were at a worn-out desk in an elementary school classroom? I do. 

“Adulting” in some shape or form typically means cooking for ourselves, even if it is just a box of pasta or a half-salvageable burnt piece of toast. Although, I’ve decided that to repossess all the natural and childlike creativity we have to share with this world, it can be brought to us again in the kitchen. We don’t all have time to squeeze finger painting into our busy, “matured,” schedules, but we always manage to have time to eat. 

I find that coordinating cuisine and creativity is the perfect complement—synchronously nurturing our minds and, of course, our stomachs. But, nonetheless, being creative is not an easy feat when the automatic door slides open and everything and anything can be found and rung up by a cashier. 

I often see myself in this compromising position, where the freedom to choose what I want inversely inhibits my mind’s capacity to create. However, living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I have discovered the abundance of small family-owned farms and markets to be the perfect solution. Trailing through a supermarket does not do our creative instincts any justice, yet local farmer stands, with little on display and sometimes just a basket of mix-matched produce placed in your hands, functions as the best creative exercise. 

This creativity routine seems to find me like an inkblot. If you’re familiar with the inkblot practice, it is where you are given a just splotch of ink on paper and urged to draw something from its organic and unique form. The produce at local farms display a similar test. They provide an exercise to work our creativity muscles as we encounter the unpredictable. 

The local, in-season, and fresh produce change rapidly. Every trip to the farm stand feels like a brand-new canvas that invites me to use different colors and techniques. This is why spotting a farm stand lays witness to a beautiful sort of spontaneity. I typically have no idea that it is just down the street, and then one day, I stare at the sign a short second longer, pull into the drive, and here I meet my creative match in a basket of watercress greens. 

I take what is given, yet limited, and create a meal. There’s no overthinking, just the transformation of produce to product. It is nearly an unconscious exercise to measure my creative potential. In this process, I feel more attachment to my food, as I can personally testify to its transition from farm to table. In this repeated experience, I have found that it is ever-so important to re-attach ourselves to the process. Yes, a meal can be bought and prepared with ease and efficiency today. Yet, there is a symbiotic relationship between investing in local farms and investing in ourselves. When we leave the grocery list and meal-prep ideas behind, we can allow ourselves to discover new greens, fruits, and more. We can present ourselves simultaneously with a challenge and magnificent experience to reignite our inventive side. 

I urge everyone to forget the overpriced tabs and many mediocre meals gone bye. Rather, take on the distinctive creativity-inducing experience that is delivered through local farms and home cooking this summer season.