Lately, I’ve been trying to trust myself enough to cook without looking at recipe cards or cookbooks.
Why shouldn’t I be able to cook from memory?
Granted, I have three young boys who run around me in circles, through my legs, over my head and almost always under my feet as they try to escape one another’s grip for something that they’ve been wrongly accused of doing. Be it a missing toy they’ve been accused of taking from their brother. A look in the wrong direction. A smile. A touch. A laugh. A burp. It could be anything really.
So this whole theory of cooking from memory is really a necessity. The less time I spend searching for and referencing recipes, the faster I will get dinner on the table and transform my cranky, hungry family back into the angels they truly are.
I know all of the techniques by heart. I’ve watched countless episodes of Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis and Paula Deen… among others. I’ve read every cookbook I’ve ever gotten my hands on completely cover-to-cover.
But all too often, I still seem to rely on formulas. I think it is the scientist in me… the mathmatic mind within that is holding me back.
I’ve been cooking for 15 years! And yet it took burning all of my recipes to realize that the best way to remember recipes is to produce them from memory.
So lately, I’ve been testing my memory. And coming up with ways to create dishes from my creativity.
And I started with pasta.
Aside from speghetti, the only other pasta meal I used to make from memory was a garlic, shrimp, butter & parmesan pasta meal. I decided it was time to expand on the pasta recipes. Pasta is something I always have on hand. And it’s super cheap.
Here is one of my latest favorite pasta-by-heart-no-recipe-pantry/freezer-ingredient-recipes.
Creamy Shrimp Pasta
Onion – diced, saute in plenty of butter
Veggie – Add 1 to the buttery onions… diced zucchini, spinach, squash, asparagus, mushroom…whatever is on hand.
Italian Seasoning – sprinkle generously over onions and mushrooms
Cyanne Pepper – just a smidge for some umph
Heavy Cream – add enough to make a sauce that will cover your pasta
Lemon – just a squeeze, if you got it… to give it some freshness
Shrimp- add as much as you like. I use a medium still-frozen, deveined, tail-off shrimp. No need to thaw!
Parmesan – fresh or pre-grated
Salt & Pepper – to taste
Pasta – whatever is on hand… penne, bowtie, angel hair… cooked till al dente
Add everything in that order to a skillet on medium/low heat. When shrimp turns pink and veggies are tender, it’s done!
I always keep plenty of frozen shrimp in my freezer. If I lived closer to the coast, I’d buy fresh. But in Oklahoma, frozen shrimp is the closest thing I get to fresh seafood. It’s healthy, delicious, quick, easy and makes any meal feel special.
Serve with a slice of toasty french bread. Like I said before, I love whipping out the frozen french bread loaf and broiling buttered slices to serve with meals. It’s a cheap way to make the meal a bit more filling.