Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Beginning of a New Journey.

Guys, I'm writing a cookbook! A book full of my own original recipes. Cooking has always been a big passion of mine. I can't remember a time where I didn't love to cook. My dad shares this passion with me, so maybe it's in our genes?! But since moving to China, I've lost some of that passion. Partly because my kitchen isn't ideal (toaster oven and a hot plate have proven to be challenging at times), and it has become so easy to just order food at the end of a work day. But, still, when I do cook, I remember how much fun I have and how good it makes me feel to create. 

If I'm being completely honest, I feel like my life has been in a rut lately. I haven't felt any spark of passion for anything in a long time. I just go about my daily routine, and at the end of the day, I sometimes feel lonely and lost. A lot of that passion came from creating in the kitchen. I love entertaining and cooking for other people, and I love messing around with flavours and ideas. I love going to a grocery store and spending hours (seriously, HOURS) going up and down the aisles, looking at the produce, the cheeses, the meats, the spices, the possibilities! I'm literally grinning from ear to ear thinking about being there just a couple of hours ago! I truly do believe that a part of my life is meant to be devoted to creating delicious, feel good food in the kitchen. 

How did I come up with this idea? As most of you know, I'm a teacher. Last week, our grade ten students presented their personal projects to the school; a year long project they've been working on. They decided on something they wanted to create that they were interested in learning more about. Kids created stop motion movies, haute couture gowns, and pixel art. I "jokingly" said to a fellow teacher: "Man, I'm leaving here seriously motivated to create something of my own!" Little did she probably know, I honestly WAS motivated. That night, I thought about it more, and I decided that what I need to do is make a cookbook. I can explore my interest more, learn more, and ultimately decide if I want the culinary arts to be a hobby or more of a career-type thing. This is what I hope to get out of this "personal project" of my own. I'm on a mission, a journey, to find my passion and love for cooking again!

So tonight! The journey began. I went out, I explored the grocery store, and I came home the ingredients to make my first entry into my journal that will one day become my cookbook. I intend to blog some of my recipes, and others I'll keep only in my journal. I'll be Snapchatting my journey and posting on Instagram. You should follow me! My handle for both is mel_dickinson. Come find me!

So here it is. My first recipe!


Pesto Sauce:
+ 2 cups fresh basil leaves
+ 1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
+ 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
+ 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
+ extra virgin olive oil

Put basil, pinenuts, cheese, and garlic into a blender or food processor. Begin mixing on low and slowly add oil to the blender. Continue to add oil gradually while mixing until desired consistency.

Pasta Bake:
+ 1 package of your favourite pasta (I used large elbow macaroni. Penne would also be great!)
+ 8 slices bacon, cooked, choppped
+ 1 small onion, diced
+ 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
+ 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
+ 1-2 cups of spinach, roughly chopped
+ 3/4 cup of heavy cream
+ 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
+ salt and pepper to taste

Cook your pasta in heavily salted boiling water according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside, saving 2-3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy. Set aside and chop once cooled. Use the leftover bacon grease to sauté the onions and garlic together. Once the onions become softened, add the spinach to the pan and cook until wilted. Add the sundried tomatoes and cooked bacon to the pan. Mix.

Add all of the pesto sauce from the blender or food processor to the pan. Mix. Stir in cream and mix until combined. Remove from heat. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Mix sauce with pasta in a baking dish. If it's difficult to combine the sauce and pasta together, add some of the reserved pasta water to the dish to loosen up the sauce. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°C for 20 minutes.

That's it folks! If I served this to my friends, I'd maybe add some chopped basil and a few crumbles of goat cheese to the plate. Eating myself, I just threw it in a the bowl and it was DELICIOUS with a glass of red wine.

When the timer on my toaster oven dinged after 20 minutes, and I took this dish out of the oven, I literally cried a little bit. I had to step away from the counter once I set it down and compose myself. I created this! I took things I knew from watching others, from reading cookbooks and recipes, and from my own palate and I created this dish! I tried something I've always wanted to, and I made homemade pesto. SO EASY! This is the result. Feel good food, and I'm feeling so full of passion and motivation, I can't wait to try my next recipe. I think it's going to be something sweet using inspiration from a family cookie recipe.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. For being interested in me and what's going on in my life. And if you try this recipe out, let me know!

(Links to my Twitter and Instagram pages on the right!) --->

1 comment:

  1. Melissa,
    I so admire this new venture of yours! I hope it brings you lots of happiness!