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Daring to Try New Things

Grilling

I am the oldest of five children. Although I fight against being typecast by things like birth order, there are some very real characteristics that show up in my life due to being the “eldest son.” One of those characteristics that I am trying to learn to counter is the need for others to see me as prepared or knowledgeable. I know it is counterintuitive, but I have for most of my life needed to know the answer before I would ask a question. It started with the feeling I needed to look competent, but it grew into trying to live up to a self-created image of being good at whatever I tried. If I didn’t think I could be good at it, I wouldn’t try.

 

I know this is a cooking blog, not a self-help column. But, I have to believe that I am not alone in trying to keep up that type of image. It has taken me a long time to learn that the walls that keep others from seeing our vulnerability also prevent us from being truly known.

 

How does that apply to cooking? For me, it has been a journey to where I am willing to try new recipes, new techniques, and realize that I am not a failure if the result is less than perfect. For years I had two or three “go to” meals that I knew I could do well, and those were the only things that I cooked. Over the past several years, as I have found the “courage” to try new recipes, I have come to greatly appreciate the adventure of stepping into unfamiliar territory.

 

There is nothing wrong with having a couple of recipes that you feel you can “knock out of the park” every time. For me, that is grilled chicken thighs. Once I learned the secret of cooking over indirect heat to prevent flare ups from dripping fat, I knew this was one that I could “win” every time. The dark meat of the thighs is a lot more forgiving of a little bit of overcooking. Other than doing a little bit of experimenting with different rubs, I have cooked thighs on the grill in the same manner for years.

 

It was not easy for me to step into the world of trying new recipes and techniques, but I have come to enjoy the new horizons they offer. Not only have I come to find new favorite flavors or techniques, I have also learned to actually cook. This is different than following the “paint by number” steps of a recipe. I encourage you to take the time to write down some ways that you want to change a recipe the next time you try it.

 

It also helps that I have a wife who is very gracious when a cooking experiment doesn’t turn out exactly as I intended.

 

I am still more insecure than I would like to admit about trying new things. But, at least in the realm of cooking, I am learning to step out of my comfort zone and take a chance to discover new possibilities.

 

I would encourage you to find ways to broaden your culinary horizons. Find a place that offers cooking classes. Learn of a new technique you could use. If you are in the Muskegon, Michigan area, you could take our upcoming class on Sous Vide Cooking or one of the next upcoming classes! Buy a cookbook that explains a new genre of cooking … maybe you really would like sushi after all.  Find a chef you enjoy and follow them on Twitter or YouTube. Above all, embrace the fun of something new.

 

Bon appetit!

By Robby Richardson


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