Kitchen Life in Atlanta

Ginger, tumeric, vegan recipes, kitchen life, Atlanta, www.carlyknapp.com

When living in Atlanta, I spent hours each day in the kitchen. It was a way I could be close to the food. I could experience the food in another way besides just eating. Eating only took up so much time but cooking could fill hours. It kept my mind busy. Kitchen Life in Atlanta became my safe place; my art studio.

I relentlessly researched recipes, never to follow one specific recipe but instead, taking bits and pieces from different ones. I rarely just planned a meal. It was several meals. Most moms and working women know this is the wisest way, but I would be lying to you if I told you this was my motivation. I was in my early 30’s working from home with a flexible schedule and no children. Saving time was not why I sat down to come up with 3-4 meals before heading to the grocery store. Complexity was.

Don’t have any real problems tying you down? Create one. Since my life was fairly free of any real problems, I had to create my own puzzles to piece together, and menus creation was one of them. My brain craved complexity and this Aries craved fire. I had to fix something without it being too messy so the weekly menu was it.

I worked and reworked the meals by trying to make sure I used all of the ingredients I bought and threw away as little as possible. If Mexican was on the menu and I was going to need cilantro, I would incorporate a Chinese dish that also required cilantro to the weekly menu, increasing the likelihood that it would all get used up. Sad to say, I didn’t do it to save money. Sure I DID save money and this was a cost-effective practice but, again, I would be lying to you if I said that was my initial goal. It was more complicated. That was why I did it. It took more thought and problem solving.

Once I decided on what my husband and I would be eating for the next few days, it was time to create the grocery list. I knew I could go to the store with my recipes and come home with 98% of what I needed. Tthere is always that 2% you forget or the store doesn’t have in stock. It’s like an unwritten rule. Instead of going with recipes, I left with a long list. Once it was all written down, I couldn’t stop there. It would be even MORE efficient to order the list.

My father told me about my grandmother and how she knew the grocery store so well, her mind worked in the way of the aisle. Maw Maw (Mississippi for grandma) wrote her lists in order of her grocery-store walk. They were not just sectioned off by product, meats and breads but exactly as you would come across items while snaking in and out of the aisles. This left me with such a vivid mental image of my teenage father following his mother’s grocery list with ease, snatching up each item in order of the list and his footsteps. And in her footsteps, I would follow.

I would first take my master list of all the items and then re-write it organizing it by produce, meats/cheese, frozen foods, condiments, etc. I would then RE-write it again using the Maw-Maw method. At this point you would think the missions as complete BUT, if there was again anyway to illuminate one item by using another similar item instead, I would make that change to my recipes. If I was already buying almond butter but one recipe called for peanut butter, I would change the menu item calling for peanut butter to almond-butter accepted. Sometimes this ended up being a win and sometimes the end result was obvious that I should have stuck to the recipe.

In the end, it was never actually about how the food turned out. I didn’t really cook focused on the final product. It was the journey; the preparation. The mental obstacle course I would complete to get there that was the turn on. It wasn’t logical. It was my way. And sometimes logic is simply too simple.