There’s been a streak of creativity running through my family, for as long as I can remember.
My grandfather, who I call “Yeye”, constructed his own set of amplifier-speakers long before I was born, out of kitchen utensils like pots and pans and other ordinary everyday items. Sometime later, Yeye also made a combination of security locks to prevent break-ins, an ingenious method that very few others would have thought of.
Yeye’s son, my father, is a slight chip off the old block. I vividly remember that as he was re-building the house he’d bought a few years ago, he would work on floor plans and patio designs late into the night, a pencil in one hand and a ruler in the other, pausing to review and erase as necessary. I remember being fascinated that my dad could imagine the house he wanted to create; but what amazed me even more was that he was able to put his thoughts down onto paper, to guide the constructor to make his vision come true.
My brother, Ronald, son of my grandfather’s son, started doodling and drawing when he was very young; some days his drawings were of cars, or the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, others it was just whatever came to his mind. Now studying graphic design, Ronald’s work and portfolio astounds me, all the time. I’m both impressed and so terribly proud of his creativity and humbleness, both of which are in equal amplitude.
My sister, Valerie, my father’s daughter, has creativity flowing through music. Be it drums or the guitar, she’s composed songs and written lyrics that are so beautiful you could cry.
I’m not sure if creativity is genetic or something that can be nurtured, but what I know is that since I was a little girl, I’ve felt the immense need to create.
I never understood why, or given much thought to it before, but today, reading Shanna’s piece on the importance of having creative outlets, I’m beginning to comprehend why over the years, I’ve been prodding at different ways to express the words and thoughts that I sometimes find impossible to speak.
In early 2012, a desire to learn to feed myself led me to enroll for once-a-week cooking classes.
As I faithfully attended the class every single Thursday, I didn’t realize that it would lead to an avalanche of other activities (both new and familiar) that I’d eventually seek so much solace in.
During the first few months during cooking class, I was taught very basic things like how to knead dough, and then how to roll it properly. I also practiced cooking risotto by moving my wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, and realized that things like that required and demanded a huge reserve of patience. I also learned very exciting things like how rubbing your fingers against stainless steel in running water could remove garlic’s infamously pungent odor; or that the best way to preserve fresh herbs such as parsley was to treat them like flowers and place them in a glass of water, in the refrigerator.
It was all very astounding and new and fresh; as if my eyes had been opened for the first time.
I learned cooking vocabulary in Spanish, and suddenly possessed a whole hearth of knowledge in a foreign language that was not at all my own.
Learning the basics was very fruitful, but it was only after I felt confident with the fundamentals that I was able to let my bottled-up kitchen creativity loose.
Take the pound cake for example. After I first learned how to make the basic version of the pound cake, I started making varied versions of pound cakes – lemon-flavored ones, others with bananas or peaches, and overtime, as I worked with the basic recipe, I realized that I wanted to create and test new recipes all the time.
Writing, which had always been my passion but had taken a back seat over the previous years, was suddenly once again my way to express this new love for cooking, and – as you might have guessed – this blog was unexpectedly born.
Armed with this new-found fascination in the kitchen, and the fresh desire to push my culinary skills further every time, I blogged it all down. Each time I used a new ingredient or made a change to a familiar dish, I documented it.
I poured out in writing what my heart could feel but my spoken words couldn’t explain.
Somewhere along the way, I also picked up food photography.
I first started to take pictures of the food I’d cooked using my cell phone’s camera in hideously yellow kitchen light, then moved to using a Sony point-and-shoot compact camera, and finally upgraded to my Canon EOS 650D DLSR and shooting mainly in natural light.
Between the physical transitions from one camera to the next, I also adopted the strong need to tell stories with my pictures, something I’m still trying hard to work on. I want to draw with light, as “photography” literally means, and having the blog allows me this constantly fresh canvas on which I practice, over and over again.
Cooking dish after dish, I let these simple recipes and the photographs I shoot go hand-in-hand with my personal stories, and time, as it always does when you’re enjoying it, ran along.
I can hardly believe that it has been exactly 2 years since I wrote my first post on Dish by Dish, and to make sense of things, I want to put down on paper what this means to me.
It’s almost difficult to understand how such a small space on the internet, tucked in a corner of a world filled with thousands of other food blogs, can bring me so much pleasure and sense of fulfillment.
She says – “It could be working on a car or studying astronomy or tilling the earth that shows it to you, but these gifts of work, especially creative work, can be the very tools to give us hope.”
This blog means so much to me.
It is also the reason why I take hundreds of pictures on an almost-daily basis, in a bid to better my food photography and translate stories into pictures.
It has also allowed me to hone my writing, week after week, month after month, and more than just a journal of my life both inside and outside the kitchen, it is also a chronicle of my writing journey, a catalog of how my writing changes as I encounter different phases in my life.
But more than all these things, what this blog does, is give me hope.
Hope that I can one day become a writer, whose words touch those who read them.
Hope that I can be of help to the busy career man or woman who needs easy recipes for a weeknight’s dinner.
Hope that through this space, not only do I get to expand my creative talents and use it as a creative outlet to live my story and better my own life, but that I will be also able to touch that of others.
And hope in humanity and the knowledge that there are kindred spirits out there who share the same passion for food, life, love and connection.
I want to say a huge, crazy big THANK YOU for all of you who read this blog.
Thank you for being generous with your time and giving me the freedom to better my creative gifts and to practice doing what I love. Thank you for reading the lengthy posts from start to finish, and then reaching out and commenting when something strikes a chord with you; and for simply being there even if no words are said.
It means the world to me.
THANK YOU. SO MUCH.
GRAIN-FREE POMEGRANATE COCONUT SCONES (Makes 8 scones)
Adapted from: Eat Good For Life
1) 1 organic egg
2) 1/4 cup of butter, room temperature
3) 1/4 cup of brown sugar
4) 1 1/2 cup of almond meal
5) 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour (or arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
6) 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
7) 1/2 cup of fresh pomegranate seeds
8) 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
9) 1 teaspoon baking powder
1) Preheat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (175 deg Cel).
2) Line a 9 inch round baking pan with parchment paper all the way up to the sides of the baking pan, and set aside.
3) In a mixing bowl, add the egg, sugar and butter, and beat well until combined.
4) Add the remainder of the ingredients except the fresh pomegranate seeds and mix through. Add most of the pomegranate seeds (leaving one tablespoon for the topping) and gently incorporate them into the batter with your hands.
5) Press the batter into the prepared baking pan and press the remaining pomegranate seeds over the top of the batter.
6) Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
7) Let the scones cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Pulling from the parchment paper, lift the scones up from the pan and cut into 8 pieces.
8) Serve alone or with a side of whipped cream
*Note: The scones can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m trying to eliminate wheat from my life, I strongly recommend Wheat Belly – a book that will empower you and make you determined to get rid of wheat and it’s terrible health effects!