Thursday, November 02, 2006

Makin' Up Stuff

I think about food all the time, even when I'm not hungry. I mentally combine flavors and textures. I dream up techniques for ingredients that I've never heard of before.
Cranky calls me a food theoretician; I somehow see myself as the deaf Beethoven, who could still "hear" music in his head and compose scores without ever listening to the actual music being played.
OK, maybe I went way over the top on that one. I'm certainly no Beethoven, of the piano or of the stove. But I'm confident about dreaming up meals in my mind well before I get into the kitchen.
Even so, when I come up with some heretofore unknown recipe or other, I invariably do a Google search to see if such a thing already exists, or is even possible.
And when I find a similar recipe to the thing I've cooked up mentally, I always experience two feelings: 1) Surprise. (Hey, some other nut likes this idea too!) and 2) Relief. (OMG, maybe it really will work if somebody else has done it!)
It's funny, though. I'm never really disappointed that I'm not the only person on the planet who conceived of my brilliant, unique twist. No, my feelings aren't that easily crushed. As a matter of fact, I'm not even really surprised that I'm not the only person to think something up. (So scratch #1 above.)
I'm not talking about molecular gastronomy, by the way. No chemicals and foams and tortured replicant food in my kitchen.
Naw. Just simple stuff, like... Well. Yesterday I used part of a stunningly beautiful black cabbage for a dish of lentils and sausage. The cabbage is very sturdy (which is not to say tough) and has a robust vegetal aroma of cruciferous popcorn gym shoes. (No, trust me. You want this in your mouth.)
And so I got to thinking. Has anybody ever made sauteed cabbage patties? Like potato pancakes, right, but formed with pre-cooked shredded cabbage, a little grated onion, some flour and egg to hold it together, like that. Salt and pepper, perhaps a dash of baking powder for lightness. Fry it up. Mm.
So I Googled. This is what I got.
It's not actually a recipe per se, but it's a total confirmation of what I was trying to come up with. It made me happy.


Joyce Hanson said...

Also, if you were like the deaf Beethoven, then you wouldn't have any tastebuds!

Anonymous said...

The Japanese have the Okonomiyaki which is a green cabbage pancake.

Anonymous said...

"(No, trust me. You want this in your mouth.)"


Anonymous said...

I'm sure the irish would have come up with something like that.

cookiecrumb said...

Hey Joyce: Oh, that's like pondering the sound of one hand clapping. Very good.

Barbara: {{slaps forehead}} OMG, I reinvented the okonomiyaki! I was even trying to think of what I'd like slathered on these cakes... Katsu sauce? Heh. Arigato gozaimasu.

Tana: Oh, the things we put in our mouths. :D

Jenny: I think I didn't cast a wide enough search net. I only looked for "cabbage patties" but -- oh, yeah, I forgot Japanese food, and hmm... wonder what would be the Irish name for this? I bet it already exists.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, fried chickpeas sounds good! I will have to try that.

DId you see my socca entries?

cookiecrumb said...

BTB: No, I didn't! Good for you and bad on me. I will hungrily go read.

Catherine said...

great shot!

Dagny said...

Who cares what it smells like. Cabbage is always a good thing. Ask my mom. It was one of the few vegetables that I would willingly eat as a kid. Perhaps this has something to do with having a mom who still insists on cooking vegetables the Southern way -- until they are mush with lots of salt. Cabbage is one of the few things that did not suffer this indignity.

cookiecrumb said...

Catherine: Pure luck. Nature did all the work. :-)

Dagny: What is it about cabbage? It should be disgusting, but it's not. I love it raw or cooked. Speaking of mush, though: I have a collard greens story to tell you. Saturday, when I see you in Point Reyes.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I do that too! Thing is, I usually don't come up with vegan versions of what I'm looking for, so I have fun converting the recipes. That's how I came up with Peach Bread Pudding.

And do you ever find, that despite having shelves groaning with cookbooks, it's just easier to google when you want something specific?

Katie said...

I make Egg Fu Yung with green cabbage - red would make for a very pretty pancake...must try

cookiecrumb said...

Katie: Egg fu yung. Perfect! Your idea and the okonomiyaki are a little eggier than the picture of cabbage patties I have in my head, but I so see where I'm going with this now.

KathyF: I Google recipes far more often than I want to admit, solely because I'm doing such a disservice to my cookbook collection. Funny, though, it wasn't too many years ago I distrusted about 90% of the crap I found on the Internet. Now the results are tons more reliable.
But! The last time I Googled a "new" idea that came to me, it was for a bread pudding! How cute. (In my case, I wanted to make a tomato-cheese bread pudding.)

Anonymous said...

Wish you had been around when I had my first community garden plot in MV years ago. I did everyhing organically including planting by the phases of the moon, like my granddaddy. I grew a 13-pound cabbage that looked like those old postcards from Alaska of giant veggies. Didn't have the heart to eat the thing it was so other-worldly.

Watch for an esp. fine bread pudding recipe when I do my Thanksgiving feature.

Tea said...

When I was a kid my mother tried to recreate okonomiyaki for us kids--with tuna fish and cabbage. It was truly awful, and we've never let her live down the "tuna fish cabbage pancakes."

But I'm sure your version would be much better:-)

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Gosh, when I contemplate the idea of a 13-pound cabbage, I can only think of quarts and quarts of sauerkraut. (I am totally on the lookout for your recipe in the Pacific Sun!!)

Tea: Ohgod. What a pity. I had Filipino lumpia filled with tuna once; not too bad. (Wait! I think there was cabbage in it too...)