Not a few people have, throughout my years, called me an Energizer Bunny. To be honest, I see where they're coming from, but I will say this: if you had told me ten years ago that simply carting small people around and/or running errands on their behalf could make me feel borderline whooped, I'd have laughed. Yet tonight, you'd be laughing 'cause I'm whooped. A good day, but whoa! I did have a lengthy meeting this morning after bringing the boys to school, and I did build my raised veggie/herb bed all by myself -screwdriver! bolts! multiple wood parts!- and there was an arseload of mini traffic snares all around town, but once 2:15 hit, yo! To the market, the nursery, school, home, welcoming babysitter, leaving Ol with her, taking J to orthodontist, taking J to Tae Kwon Do, almost getting plowed by an exceedingly old man in a minivan, making it back home, giving J dinner, tucking Ol back in, reminding J to complete his reading log...
And admiring my veggie bed. I am just thrilled with it and have already planted some Red Russian kale and rosemary, both hardy enough to handle the in-the-40s temps I think we'll have for at least a few more nights. If y'all could have seen me when I was an adolescent or young adult, you'd laugh again at the thought of me building a planter and gleefully tossing in soil and compost; I did not like to be wet or dirty unless I fully opted into either. Now? Well, I still hate to be wet when it's not part of the plan, but dirty? I love to lose myself in the yard and surface hours later; crescent moons of dirt impacted under my fingernails; brown smudges on my knees; grass stains and tiny scratches all over my limbs. I've never met an earthworm to whom I didn't say, and I still watch with complete wariness and a tinge of fear those brown ground spiders who have white butts. They give me the heebie-jeebies! Most things with too many legs give me a slight shudder.
At some point yesterday, I noticed a pound of beautiful ground turkey in the freezer so popped it into the fridge to thaw overnight. I had in mind some meatballs- flavorful but simply spiced, ones the boys might cotton to but that could also be dressed up with some yogurt sauce. Yogurt sauce is the cat's meow, don't you think? I mean, you could spoon it over dirt, and I swear people would still cheer.
Anyway, I didn't want to have to deal with egg or breadcrumbs as binder/filler so did a little mind map exercise that's become a really helpful method for me in creating recipes from scratch. You take one or two ingredients and consider all the things that pair nicely with them.
Ground turkey in meatball form minus egg minus breadcrumbs --> food processed chickpeas would substitute nicely and add a depth of flavor and texture (so, don't food process too aggressively) + lemon zest which is always a sublime addition + salt (critical).
Ok, what about herbs? Parsley is so bright and lovely as are scallions = a small'ish combo of both. You know what else sounds good? Ground walnuts --> honey is nice with walnuts and might also be nice here.
And so on and so forth. This system is not foolproof but overall, it's both fun and has yielded some fantastic results. Having cooked one to many times almost daily over the past decade, I've learned a lot. I feel I have a good sense of what might work together and what definitely won't. And knowledge of ingredients and myriad techniques is important! But so is a willingness to experiment. Yes, some creations suck but you really won't create much of memory if you play it too safely either, you know?
J was my first taster, and he immediately ate three and made me promise to save him some. T dunked his first into the walnut yogurt sauce I'd made and promptly ate eight more. I quite enjoyed it all myself- the textural variety provided by the concert of turkey, walnuts and chickpeas was wonderful! And these are full of protein, fiber and good fats!