For my parents*, experimentation starts in the laboratory with pipets, petri dishes, and centrifuges. Mine starts by opening the fridge and cupboards to figure out what to do with over-ripe bananas, almost-mush peaches, a badly-in-need-of-pruning basil plant, and a lushly-overgrown mint plant.
Their science aims to cure disease and create innovative medicine. My “science” aims to cure broken hearts and create smiles through taste. Though on completely separate levels, they both have purpose. They both require creativity and thought. They both require a subtle sense of rebellion.
It’s in rebellion that we create innovation in the laboratory and in the kitchen. To say, “I will not follow the rules,” pushes for something different. Most of the time, that rebellion doesn’t work. But in very specific instances, it creates a recipe or protocol that needs repetition to confirm results.
Today, my laboratory produced two recipes I created from my head. This is a first for me. I’ve never completely thought of something from scratch. I blame that partially on binging on season three of “Mind of a Chef.” I had a lot to work with as well. The fridge was packed with fruit about to rot. I had walnuts and almonds begging to be chopped. Left over coffee and grounds sat in the French press. My smuggled-over vanilla beans and orange bitters called swishing-ly from the shelves.
For some, meditation comes from sitting on a slanted-wooden kneeling board while focusing on the breath. Though I value that, my mind can never calm while sitting. On the contrary, it dives into the constantly filling sea of thoughts that I swim through every minute of every day. My meditation is in the motion of a rocking 9-inch chef’s knife onto almonds, in the scraping of finely minced apples into a stainless steel bowl, in the whirring of an electric mixer that combines sugar and butter into a fluffy cloud. The thoughts fade, and it’s just the motion and me–nothing else.
This meditative experiment created what I like to call “coffee break” “scookies” (cookie scones) and and I-refuse-to-be-labeled banana bread. I wish I documented measurements, but that’s never the way I’ve approached cooking or baking. A list of ingredients is listed below. For the scone recipe, I built on this recipe. For the bread, it was this one.
I-refused-to-be-labeled banana bread:
Mint leaves as garnish
All purpose flour
Toasted and slightly burned almonds chopped very finely
Dogwood coffee- reduced and simmered into a paste (inspired by Mind of a Chef)
Combine the following in a bowl before adding:
All purpose flour
4 plums – skinned and mashed
1 finely diced apple – skinned
One whole egg
One egg white
*My parents are both well-established scientists in the Minnesota community. My family has always emphasized the laboratory and biology. Our dinner table conversations quickly transfuse into discussions about their latest SNIP (Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology) meeting or drama at the lab–at which point I follow as much as I can before completely tuning out to the latest song or thought in my head.