Some strange, but lovely and relatively talented cook has taken up residence in my kitchen.
She feeds us good food. On Saturday, she served us fluffy pancakes, drizzled with a crimson triple berry sauce, warm maple syrup, and a dollop of butter melting down the sides. She made red wine braised short ribs, falling off the bone atop a pile of roasted garlic mashed potatoes later that night. And the next morning, bacon and eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce! We have been showering her with compliments. I feel like I don’t know her, but I do. She is me!
Really? Yes, really.
I’ve found myself surpassing my own expectations not only in imagination with this past weekend’s menu, but also in the expanding versatility of my kitchen skills, and also not to mention my growing repertoire of kitchen gear.
I don’t think I ever believed the day would come that I, me myself, would own a set of six cute little ramekins, but I’ve got them, thanks to a loving father’s generous holiday gifting! In my family, instead of, “secret santas,” our holiday gift exchange is known as, “secret angels.” So fittingly, in addition to my precious new set of baking cups, my dad also got me my very own angel food cake pan, which will come in mighty handy as a special someone’s birthday approaches and I prepare for a second birthday cake attempt! (My guardian angel showed up after all!)
I had such a great weekend with all my kitchen successes that it seems perhaps now I have set the bar kind of high. How am I going to show up this random weekend of glamour when Valentine’s Day rolls around? And what about when my egg whites won’t peak at the time appointed for an angel food cake redo? I’m afraid I may just whip my little perfectionist heart out of commission.
But maybe not. I think one of the keys to my success this weekend was that I kept it low key and my tendency for perfectionism in check. These sunny side up baked eggs were inspired simply by the sunny morning that greeted us as we woke up late on Sunday. I made them using some left over spicy tomato sauce, without even referencing the numerous recipes I had read in the days immediately following the acquisition of my newly prized ramekins. I didn’t plan on it, but my intuitive execution of this simple dish made me feel like a natural in the kitchen.
That certainly is a new precedent. For a perfectionist, such relaxed, unpracticed, unprepared for success that is recognized, not most importantly by others, but by myself, is an exception to the rule. This weekend, I didn’t listen to that silly voice in my head that speaks in the language of cognitive distortions. I pushed away those thoughts that insist I have not quite achieved enough, that I have not quite met the expectations set out for me, that I will never be quite perfect, and instead surprised myself with success brought on by thoughts of encouragement, and perseverance, and praise.
So yes, my skills in the kitchen have improved with practice, of recipes, and cooking techniques, and menu planning, but also with a practice of mindfulness. And thus, I think I have set the bar. I have set it at, “Just believe in yourself.” And I intend to.
in Tomato Sauce
4 tablespoons prepared tomato sauce
4 large eggs
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease four ramekins with a thin coating of butter. Spread one tablespoon of tomato sauce in the bottom of each ramekin. Carefully break one egg into each ramekin. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the ramekins in a round cake pan, and pour about 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on preference for runny or firm yolks, until whites are set. Garnish with fresh scallions. Serve with bacon and a toasted bagel for scooping.