On the cooking ruts we find ourselves in and the simple things we can do to break out of them. Sometimes all it takes is merely remembering that yes, we can do this.
The oil sputtered as I poured the rice into the Dutch oven with the already-browned onions. I gave it a stir. Next would come the wine, which would soak into the rice before I began adding chicken stock little by little until the grains grew plump and soft and the liquid transformed into a creaminess.
My kids were excited about the risotto I was making for dinner. They love it. So do it.
But it’s become one of those go-to recipes for me. The ones that I fall back on when I am not sure what to make. The ingredients are almost always in the pantry, and I can change up the flavors each time with additions and deletions. Peas and fresh herbs one week. Just herbs the next. A swirl of aged gouda and some chopped artichoke hearts. The possibilities are endless.
Cooking ruts happen.
It’s not like I want to make the same dishes again and again. I just have been in a bit of a rut. And with 2018 fast approaching, I want so badly to break free of this rut. There isn’t a great deal of joy in cooking the same things again and again because it’s easy.
A week later, standing in my parents’ kitchen with my hands dusted with flour and a pile of scone dough in front of me, it occurred to me. Sometimes the best thing to break you out of cooking ruts is simply to cook. I hadn’t intended to make scones, but when my mother mentioned craving them, a little light flipped on in my head: I can do that.
So I did. Sifting, cutting the butter, mixing, patting … until it formed a rectangle (I decided on square scones for this batch). A few rolls of a pizza cutter and they were ready to transfer to the baking sheet. Bake, eat, enjoy.
Yes, I can do that.
And maybe that’s it. Maybe sometimes breaking out of a rut is really about reminding ourselves that we can do it. Our capabilities — whether in the kitchen or some other facet of life — exceed what we’re doing. We can do more. We can diversify what we’re doing, eating, whatever …
Little things can make a big difference in our lives. We just have to let it happen.
Maybe these scones were the reminder I needed.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.