Tag Archives: A Recipe for Success

A Recipe For Success: The Blissful Bite

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Scott Drotar Plate Of Food
I get a lot of enjoyment out of creating a delicious plate of food, and this happiness comes in many forms.

As you have learned over the last year or so, I love to cook. Chances are, if I am home and am not working, I am either preparing food, reading a cookbook or food blog, or watching the “Food Network” (or all three). I get so much happiness out of putting a recipe together and preparing a tasty, new meal, and this happiness comes in many forms. Of course, I get enjoyment out of feasting on all of the tasty food that I make, as I love to eat, but the pleasure I get from cooking goes far beyond that. The mental process of learning how to create and manipulate flavors fascinates me, and this mental “feasting” brings me a whole other type of bliss. I also get a sense of delight from creating a dish and bringing something to life in the kitchen. This act of turning a set of seemingly random ingredients into a delicious meal gives me yet another type of happiness. There is also one other source of joy that my culinary adventures bring me, and this type of happiness is greater than all of the others combined. This form of happiness is what makes me truly love cooking, and it is what will keep me experimenting in the kitchen and playing with flavors for the rest of my life.

Most of the time when I am cooking, I am only making food for myself (and possibly my nurse). While I have a blast doing this, and I get a lot of joy out of my time in the kitchen, cooking for myself is not nearly as fun as preparing a meal for my friends or family. Having others eat and relish in the flavors I put together is the best part of cooking, and it is what brings the most happiness into my life. There are few things I like more than watching someone gleefully savor each and every bite of a meal I created. Watching someone close their eyes as they blissfully take in the tastes and textures dancing on their tastebuds in total contentment (something I like to call “the blissful bite”) brings me more happiness than almost anything else in the world. You would not think that something so external to me, like who is enjoying my food, would play such a large role in determining my level of happiness, but surprisingly it does. Being the introspective person I am, I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about this phenomenon and examining these different types of happiness, and these hours of self-reflection have helped me to better understand what happiness is and how it functions in your life.

As much as I would like to take credit for being the first person to realize that the happiness in your life comes in many shapes and sizes, it turns out that this concept has been around for thousands of years. Aristotle is often cited as the first person to present this concept, and numerous other philosophers and theologians have also discussed this idea over the last several centuries. In Aristotle’s depiction of happiness, he identifies four

Scott Drotar The Blissful Bite
The best part of cooking is watching others enjoy my food, especially when they take “the blissful bite.”

“levels of happiness,” and as you move up through the levels (i.e. from “level 1” to “level 2”) the intensity, or magnitude, of your happiness increases. The first level is the type of enjoyment you get from material objects and such. In my cooking, this is the type of happiness I get from eating the food I make. The second “level of happiness” comes from the feelings of achievement and accomplishment you get from completing a task or project. For me, this is the joy I feel from creating a great meal and applying my knowledge of flavors. The third “level of happiness” is derived from doing things for others or bettering the world around you. When I cook, this is the amazing feeling of euphoria that I get from watching my friends and family enjoy my food (and take “the blissful bite”). The fourth, and final, type of happiness comes from feeling connected to the universe/a higher power, and it is seen as the ultimate “level of happiness” and is what we should all strive for throughout our lives (Unfortunately, I have not quite gotten to the point where my culinary skills are on a “God-like level” yet, so I do not have a cooking example for you, but I will keep working on it.).

Even though it may have been discovered thousands of years ago, as you can see from my examples above, this notion of happiness coming in multiple forms is just as applicable today as it was then. Not only has this concept stood the test of time, but it can also be applied to nearly every person’s life. Think about your feelings during the Holidays. You get less enjoyment out of receiving a gift (“level 1” happiness) than putting up and fully decorating a gorgeous Christmas tree (“level 2” happiness), and then you get even more happiness than that from giving someone else a gift they really wanted (“level 3” happiness). Depending on your personal beliefs, you could even make the case that you get an even greater level of elation from attending “Midnight Mass” or another seasonal, religious service, which would be the highest “level of happiness” there is. We have all experienced these types of feelings, and you cannot deny that the warm, fuzzy, full-bodied bliss you get from giving the perfect present is much more fulfilling than the enjoyment you get from receiving a gift. As the old saying goes, “It is better to give than to receive.” And thanks to Aristotle, now we know why.

Scott Drotar Levels Of Happiness
The different feelings of joy you experience doing various Christmastime activities are a perfect example of the different “levels of happiness.”

If two, drastically different events, like my feelings during cooking and the joys of Christmastime activities, can be explained by this concept, that is good enough to make me a believer. I am certain that as you think about the things that you enjoy doing, that you will find that these “levels of happiness” are present in your life as well. The activities that bring you the most fulfilling feelings of happiness are the the ones where you get to do something for someone else. Whether it is watching them take “the blissful bite,” seeing them open the perfect, Christmas gift, or some other altruistic activity, the things that bring the most joy to your life are those that allow you to bring happiness to others. As you recognize this mind-blowing fact, you realize that helping others is not only the “right” thing to do because it makes their life better, but also because it creates the greatest type of happiness in yours. Once you fully understand and accept this important lesson, not only will you feel a larger sense of enjoyment in your life, but the world as a whole will be a much happier place.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

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A Recipe For Success: The Key Ingredient

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Scott Drotar Olive Oil Infuser
My olive oil infuser is my newest kitchen gadget that will give me countless hours of fun.

Since I have discovered my great love for the culinary world, I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of reading everything I can find about cooking and going through hundreds of recipes. After learning some new information on a cooking technique or discovering an interesting recipe, I am always excited to get in the kitchen and apply what I have learned, experiment with recipes, and smile with delight as I dine on a delicious dish that I created. This time in the kitchen inevitability gives me even more new information that I want to try or another way to improve the recipe, which starts this culinary cycle all over again (and again, and again,…). Through all of my reading, cooking, eating, and repeating, I have learned so much about cooking and food, and the more information I gain, the more my enjoyment and interest in the culinary world grows. Of all of the lessons I have attained though, the most important lesson I have gained came to me the other day as I was browsing through recipes for flavored olive oils (there is a pin on my Pinterest Cooking Board). This moment of clarity taught me something that is extremely important to becoming a good cook, but it plays an even more vital role in leading a fulfilling and happy life.

We all have a few things in life that we really love to do. I am not talking about stuff you just “like” to do (i.e. watching a movie, playing Minesweeper, etc.). I mean those activities where time seems to lose all meaning, and you cannot help but smile when you do them. I once heard someone describe these events as the “things that make your heart sing,” and I thought that illustrated it perfectly. I have always known that mathematics, computers, and helping others made my heart belt a song like Pavarotti, but just recently, I discovered that I now have to add cooking to this list. I was just sitting there in my living room, reading recipe after recipe for different olive oil infusion ideas, when I had this revelation. It came to me when I was going to tap the icon for Pinterest on my tablet, but I accidentally tapped my camera icon instead. When the camera popped up and showed my face on the screen, I noticed that I had a great big grin spreading from ear to ear. This was not just a little smirk, but a beaming, Cheshire cat smile that lights up your entire face. I had had no idea I was smiling like a goofy schoolboy until I saw it on the screen (my heart must have been doing a solo), but it made me understand how much I love everything about preparing food. This realization is what gave me the perspective to learn a critical lesson about the act of cooking.

By recognizing how much enjoyment I get from spending time in the kitchen and reading about the culinary arts, I gained one of the most important lessons about cooking. It is one of those teachings that is almost universal, in that it will improve any recipe or dish you can dream up. You could even go so far to say that it is the key ingredient to making any incredible, edible fare (you thought I was going to say egg, didn’t you?). This culinary cornerstone is that you have to make it fun. I know it is simple and obvious, but that is what makes it so powerful. In order to be great in the kitchen, cooking has to be something that is fun, and you love

Scott Drotar Pavarotti
You need to find the things in life that “make your heart sing” like Pavarotti.

doing. If you are not enjoying the process of spending hours reading about emulsions and the intricacies of making mayonnaise (my Sunday afternoon), then you will never make a terrific, tasty mayo, because your heart will never really be in it. Unless your heart starts crooning like “Old Blue Eyes” every time you read the words “whisk thoroughly” or “simmer gently,” you are better off just buying a jar of Hellmann’s and spending your time on something you do love doing. Now, I am not saying that you cannot make good food unless you are crazy for cooking like some of us, not at all. However, you will never be able to achieve the same levels of culinary achievement, because you will eventually grow bored and tired of being in the kitchen and decide your recipe is “good enough.” This is natural too, since without the fun, cooking becomes work, and no one likes working (unless your work is fun, but then…*head explodes*). For those of us who love to cook, the recipe will never be “good enough,” or even complete, because you will always be itching to get back into the kitchen to try making it with some new technique or ingredient you read about in the latest “Cook’s Illustrated.” This love for cooking is what will allow you to go beyond “good enough” to create some beautiful works of edible art. It is also what will keep you in front of the stove for hours making some dish, smiling the entire time without a care in the world.

Having a joy for cooking and having fun preparing food is the key ingredient to achieving something great in the kitchen, and the same can be said for life in general. In an earlier post, “Find Your Passion,” I discussed how important it is to choose a profession that you love doing, regardless of the money, because that is what will make you happy in the long run. This concept of keeping things fun is sort of a corollary of that idea. If you make sure that the things you do, be it work or hobbies, are so fun that your heart breaks into song, you will get a lot more enjoyment out of life. Your job will not feel like work, and your hobbies will be like little, mental vacations, where you get to escape from everything going on around you, lose all track of time, and escape into something you truly have a passion for. Not only will you find more happiness through keeping things fun though, but you will also achieve greater success. If you are doing something fun, whether it is at the office or at home, you will not get tired of making minor improvements or modifications because it is “good enough.” You will always want to keep the fun train rolling by trying just one more idea, and this will allow you to accomplish all of the great things you are capable of.

Scott Drotar The Key Ingredient
As long as you remember the key ingredient, and make your life fun, you will achieve the great things you are capable of.

I know that you probably do not think of writing computer code, reading mathematical proofs, or even making infused olive oils as fun, but that is what makes this concept so great and universal. It does not matter what you love doing, just that you love doing it. It does not make a difference if it is geeky or weird, so long as you are having fun. If your heart is singing, that is all that is really important. It is this simple, straightforward nature of this valuable lesson that makes it a key ingredient in the world of cooking as well as life. What are the things in your life that make your heart sing? Think about the things you supposedly like doing, and really ask yourself if you are actually having fun when you do them. Perhaps you have some hobbies or interests that you do not enjoy as much as you think you do, and you could better spend your time on an activity that turns your heart into Wayne Newton. Most importantly, remember that no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, that your life should be fun. It may not be fun all of the time, as bad things do happen, but for the most part you should enjoy living your life. If you remember this one, key ingredient, you will not only be Bobby Flay in the kitchen (I wish), but you will also have a very happy, successful life.

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A Recipe For Success: Trust Your Tastebuds

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As a result of my spinal muscular atrophy and the damage it has done to my body, I have to be very careful when I am eating to avoid choking. With my disability weakening the muscles used in swallowing, along with all of the scar tissue from my trache surgeries taking up extra room in my neck, there is not a lot of room for food to go down my esophagus. One of the ways that I have adapted my diet to overcome this obstacle is by keeping my food as soft and moist as possible. I accomplish this by putting sauces, dips, and other condiments on pretty much everything I eat. These sauces help moisten my food, while also acting as a sort of lubricant to help things slide on down to my belly. Since I put some sort of condiment on nearly every bite I take, it makes sense that as I have gotten into cooking I have started experimenting with making my own sauces and dips. I have developed, and I would nearly say perfected, my own delicious recipes for various condiments ranging from a tangy honey mustard to an Asian sweet and sour sauce to, most recently, my own blazing buffalo sauce (which is available on my Pinterest Cooking Board). The last few weeks, as I was working on my buffalo sauce recipe and going through the process of gradually modifying it until it was just right, I realized something. I realized, as I was tinkering with my concoction one little bit at a time, that the process for modifying and developing your own sauce recipe is extremely similar to the way you should go about monitoring and adjusting your body’s health, mood, and overall well-being. Furthermore, by learning this process in the kitchen, you will then be able to apply it to your life in general, which will help you be both healthier and happier (plus you will have some kick ass sauces).

The first step in developing your own sauce recipe is to find an existing recipe to use as a starting point. You can get this jumping off point through the recommendation of a friend, out of a cookbook, or by finding a well reviewed recipe online. All that matters is that you think the recipe will at least be similar to what you want your final product to be. After selecting your starter recipe, you should make the sauce exactly as the recipe describes without any alterations. Once it is done, taste the sauce several times to really get a good idea as to its flavor profile, and then put it in the refrigerator overnight and give it another taste the next day. This is important because many sauces change quite a bit after being allowed to settle for a few hours. Now that you have a working knowledge of what this recipe tastes like, as well as what needs to be improved upon, it is time to really start cooking. With my buffalo sauce, I knew that my starter recipe needed more heat (surprise, surprise), and it needed to lose the harsh, vinegar-like aftertaste that lingered after each

Scott Drotar Cayenne Pepper
I knew that adding more cayenne pepper would increase the heat of my sauce, but a little spice can go a long way, so I needed to go slowly.

bite and made the flavor seem very acidic. It is always important in altering a recipe to tackle one thing at a time, and since I knew that adding more heat was as easy as adding more cayenne pepper spice than the starter recipe recommended, I did that first. I added a pinch more cayenne pepper, then gave it a taste, added a pinch more, gave it a taste, and just continued this process until it was as spicy as I thought it should be. Next I needed to find a way to get rid of the overpowering, vinegar aftertaste. Thanks to my knowledge of kitchen chemistry and flavor profiles, I knew that milk products often work well to tone down overly acidic and spicy flavors, so I decided to substitute some of the vegetable oil in the starter recipe with butter. This would maintain the high fat content that the oil provided, while also inserting some dairy to diminish the acidic flavor ruining my sauce. Once again I worked up slowly by adding a teaspoon of butter, giving it a taste, add another teaspoon, give it a taste, and so on. Eventually (two tablespoons of butter later), I found the right mix of vegetable oil and butter, and my sauce was finished. It was a great consistency, had just the right amount of heat, and had a good flavor that left you wanting more. In other words, it was the perfect buffalo sauce.

Scott Drotar Buffalo Sauce
I knew that substituting some butter for some of the vegetable oil would improve my buffalo sauce, but I needed to trust my tastebuds to know how much.

If you look back at this process for modifying and developing the perfect sauce, you will notice that I probably tasted the sauce, in various different forms, at least 30 times. I let my tongue and tastebuds be my guide as I moved closer and closer to my perfect, final product. I did not jump to Google, some other recipe, or another person to try to find a way to improve my sauce. I just let my body guide me. It was recognizing this that caused me to realize that this “taste test process” is very similar to the way that I keep my body in proper balance throughout my day. In order to make sure that I am in good shape physically and my mind is well centered emotionally, I am constantly checking in with my body to see how I am feeling. I listen to what my body and brain are telling me and adjust my actions accordingly. When I feel like my lungs need a break or my hips hurt a lot, I do not go to the internet or look in a book to find a way to fix things. I just trust what my body is telling me and follow my instincts. Just like following the guide of your tastebuds is a gradual process, I take what my body tells me and make small, minor adjustments until my body says that is just right. By trusting my body and following this same method that produces a perfect sauce with my overall well-being, I am able to maintain the best possible balance within my body throughout the day and get the most out of each and every day that I can.

Developing the perfect sauce recipe is not an easy task and can be quite time consuming, but if you trust your tastebuds you will eventually end up with a delicious product to enjoy. Likewise, keeping your body and mind in the proper balance during your day is not easy either, but if you listen to what your body is telling you and go with your gut, you will end up in a place where you are both healthy and happy. This may be a lengthy process on both counts, and you may have to endure tasting a lot of bad sauces and withstand some discomfort along the way, but this method will get you to the best possible outcome both in the kitchen and in your life. Remember that you are an expert on your body, and even if you do not realize it consciously, your body knows what it needs, so trust it. Just like you would not let someone else tell you what your favorite flavor is (you would trust your tastebuds), do not rely on someone else to tell you what is best for your well-being and happiness. By applying this gradual process, you will end up well fed with a great taste in your mouth ready for the next bite, as you sit back and smile, healthy and happy, wanting more out of life.

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A Recipe for Success: Low and Slow

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Scott Drotar Secret Barbecue Rub
Covered with my secret barbecue rub and cooked “low and slow,” my ribs don’t even need sauce.

Over the last few years as I have been enjoying my journey through the culinary world, I have learned a lot, had tons of fun, and prepared some tasty creations (as well as some bad ones). While I have developed numerous skills to use in the kitchen and accumulated countless recipes though, without a doubt my forte when it comes to cooking is my barbecue, specifically my Kansas City style barbecue ribs. I can and do barbecue in several different styles, but my dry rub, Kansas City style is by far the best. My ribs are so moist and tender that when you bite into them the meat just melts in your mouth like butter, and this is while your tastebuds are exploding with delight at the smoky, sweet flavor engulfing them one by one. People have even referred to my delectable ribs as “heavenly meat candy.” Unfortunately, my dry rub recipe is a closely guarded secret that even my own mother does not know, so I cannot share it with you, but I have shared a KC style BBQ recipe on Pinterest that is very good and similar to mine that you will really like. Even more momentous than sharing this recipe however, which is saying a lot since I love barbecue, I am also going to pass on an incredibly important life lesson that you can learn by cooking good barbecue.

On the surface making good barbecue seems pretty simple. You just buy some baby back ribs, lather them up with sauce, and throw them in a nice, hot oven, grill, or rotisserie. Yet it seems like people who use this method always end up with a bunch of ribs that are tough, dry, and flavorless and always wonder why. Now, there are several things wrong with this bare bones, Neanderthal-like approach to barbecuing, but by far both the most costly and most common mistake is that they cooked their meat too fast and at too high of a temperature. Ribs need to be cooked slowly over low heat in order to remain tender and juicy, and by heating them up to 250° F or more (baby back ribs only need to reach a temperature of 175° F to be safe to eat) you are basically turning your great cut of meat into tasteless rubber. That is why every self-respecting barbecue cook remembers the rhyming phrase “always barbecue low and slow.” As critical as going “low and slow” is to making great barbecue though, it is possibly even more crucial in your life, especially when dealing with difficult situations.

When I got my trache when I was 15 years old, my life changed drastically overnight. In addition to just trying to recover from my near death experience, I also had a lot of new things to get used to and had to teach myself new ways of doing certain tasks. One of the things that was very difficult and frustrating to relearn to do was swallowing. As you can imagine, after having your neck sliced open and tubes put in, your throat can be a little sore, making swallowing pretty painful. Also, since I had been medically sedated for several days, it had been a long time since I had last eaten anything by mouth, and like any other muscles, the muscles in my throat had gotten weaker. This was especially dangerous because I was recovering from pneumonia, and if I aspirated (fancy, medical term for “swallow down the wrong pipe”) anything into my already weak lungs by not swallowing correctly, the infection could return. At the same time however, I also needed to consume as much food as possible, because while I was fighting for my life I had lost around 20 pounds. My weight of only 48 pounds when I was admitted was so low that my parents were actually questioned by a social worker from the hospital to make sure they were not neglecting to feed me. I had to get some weight back on quickly to regain my strength and fully recover, but eating was both painful and dangerous due to my difficulty swallowing. You can easily see how this put me in quite the pickle.

Scott Drotar Weight Loss
After my weight loss during my time in the hospital, my dog, Jorey, weighed more than me.

I realized that putting the weight back on was going to be a gradual change, since even without any swallowing issues it is only recommended to gain a few pounds a week. I also knew that there would be setbacks occasionally, and that I could not let myself get discouraged or frustrated if there was a day where I just could not eat much because of my throat. This also needed to be a slow process, because if I tried to eat too much, too fast I could end up doing serious harm to my already fragile lungs. Keeping all of this in mind and focusing on the long-term was my way of keeping my emotions low and remembering to take things slow, which would give me the best chance at successfully gaining weight. The importance of adopting this “low and slow” mindset is readily apparent when you contrast it with a more “emotional and fast” approach, as happened between my mother and I.

After I was released from the hospital and returned home, my mom was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted and raw from the horrific experience of nearly losing her son. As a result of this, she did not have the energy or mental ability at the time to see my weight gain situation as I had, which caused some tension between us. In her mind, even though I was home and no longer in danger of losing my life at any moment, I was still on the brink of death. She was convinced that if I did not get my weight up immediately, I was going to end up back in the hospital, or worse. While she understood that swallowing was painful and I was having to learn a whole, new way to eat without inhaling my food, my mother still was fixated on me eating as much as humanly possible. It was not that she could not understand or comprehend the difficult balance between gaining weight and swallowing correctly that I was facing, but her emotions had taken over and convinced her that if she pushed me hard enough I could gain 20 pounds in only a couple of weeks. Our differences in how we saw the situation I was in, my “low and slow” and my mother’s “emotional and fast,” created quite a bit of friction between us, and it even resulted in a lot of tension, some tears, and even a few major blowouts. Thankfully though, after a couple weeks my mom slowly got more rested and regained her control over her emotions, and with the help of my father as mediator we were able to sit down and work things out. Once she understood that my “low and slow” mindset was not me taking the situation lightly, but instead my way of creating the best chance for successfully gaining back some weight, she felt much better and supported my gradual approach. With us now on the same page as far as how to best fatten me up, I was able to successfully put on almost 12 pounds in the three months before Winter hit.

Scott Drotar Low and Slow
One of the most important things to remember to make great barbecue, and manage difficult situations in life, is to take things “low and slow.”

This story from my life is a perfect example of how keeping your cool and taking things gradually, going “low and slow,” can be a critical part of getting through difficult circumstances in your life. Chances are, if I had adopted my mother’s mindset and tried to gain back all of the weight in one meal, I would have ended up damaging my throat, slowing my recovery, or back in the ICU with pneumonia from aspiration. By taking things “low and slow” on the other hand, I was able to safely get back to a healthy weight in a relatively short amount of time, which definitely played a large part in my overall recovery from this tough period in my life. The next time you are getting ready to put some ribs on the grill, remember this story about my mother and I and be sure to cook your meat “low and slow.” It may take some patience and seem like a silly way to barbecue, but by maintaining this cooking method you will end up with ribs that are moist, tender, and full of flavor. More importantly, the next time you are presented with a difficult situation remember to step back and take things “low and slow.” If you keep your emotions in check and realize that great things often take time, you will find success much more easily. Just one more reason why barbecue is one of the greatest things ever. It not only excites your palette and fills your belly, it also carries important life lessons that will bring you success and happiness long after the bones are picked clean.

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A Recipe for Success: Spice Things Up

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Over the last few years, I have discovered that I really like cooking. It is a lot of fun to get in the kitchen and create something new and delicious for people to enjoy. As I have been learning my way around the kitchen and developing my culinary skills beyond merely boiling an egg, I have realized that cooking is a great analogy for life. Many of the things I have had to learn to become a better cook are some of the same lessons that you must learn in order to lead a happy, successful life. In an effort to share some of these life lessons from the kitchen with you, I am going to be running a new Roll Models series called “A Recipe for Success.” Today’s post, “Spice Things Up,” is the first entry in this group, and I will continue to publish articles from this series periodically. All of the recipes I reference in these posts will be available on my Pinterest cooking board with my comments, so that you can try them if you want. More importantly than passing on my culinary advice however, I also hope to pass on some of the valuable insights you can gain about life as you journey into the world of cooking. And if I happen to create a new chef or two along the way that is just gravy.

Scott Drotar Boiled Egg
Up until a few years ago, this was about the extent of my culinary knowledge.

When I first started getting into cooking before I could barely even tell a sauce pan from a colander, I thought that cooking was merely looking up a recipe and following the instructions. I could not have been more wrong. While selecting good recipes and being able to follow them are a small part of being a good cook, this is something that anyone who can read could do, but you all know that not everyone can cook. In order to actually cook, you have to be able to go a step beyond what is written on the recipe card and be able to modify and alter the directions to improve the dish and make it your own. This is what separates working in the kitchen and cooking, and while this may seem like a very trivial distinction, I assure you it is not. There are lots of things you must learn in order to move over from using the stove to cooking, but the first and most important, lesson is to adopt the right culinary mindset. You have to have the confidence and curiosity to experiment with new foods and techniques, so that you are willing to go beyond the recipe and create something new. As crucial as this fearless, inquisitive mentality is to becoming a good cook though, it is an even more important part of living a happy and fulfilling life.

A perfect example of how important this curious and courageous nature is in the kitchen occurred just the other day as I was breaking in my new Dutch oven by trying a new recipe. The dish I was making was a chili mac and cheese that had rave reviews on Pinterest, so I thought I would give it a try. After I read through the list of ingredients and the cooking instructions, I realized though that if I made the dish as it was written, I definitely would not like it. I will not go into the specific details here (they are on my Pinterest board), but there were ingredients included in the recipe that I do not particularly like. Thanks to my cook’s mindset however, I was more than willing to make some changes and try to modify it to fit my tastes. I did not know how it would turn out or if it would even be edible after my alterations, but with the right perspective, you realize that the experimentation is part of the fun. I started spicing things up (I love spicy food), taking things out, and even adjusting the cooking temperature as I thought best. My curiosity and confidence to make these changes paid off too, as this culinary masterpiece had plenty of kick and turned out even better than I could have hoped. I never would have been able to make these improvements however, if I had not first developed the adventurous mentality to try something new.

Scott Drotar Spice Things Up
Having the confidence to spice things up not only helped me create a great new dish, but also get the most out of life.

Just as by adopting the right mindset is critical to being able to enjoy cooking and getting better at creating new foods, it is also a crucial part of living a full, happy life. If you go through life only doing exactly what everyone else has done and playing it safe all the time, sure you may not ever make any huge mistakes, but you will also never experience some of the new and exciting things that the world has to offer. You have to have the courage and questioning nature that pushes you to try something different, even if you do not know how it will turn out all the time, in order to get the most out of life. You cannot be afraid to spice things up because it may be too hot to handle, if you want to create the fulfilling, successful life you deserve. Trying new experiences, learning from your mistakes, and taking pride in your successes is all a part of achieving great things and living a full life, and this all starts with overcoming the fear to step out of your comfort zone and spice things up.

My recent culinary adventure with the now new and improved spicy chili mac and cheese is just one example of how you have to have a certain confidence in order to be a good cook. This delicious journey through my kitchen is a great illustration of how this mindset is equally important to your life in general though. By adopting this courageous outlook you may not always know how things will turn out, and you will probably ruin a few dishes along the way, but you will also get to experience and achieve some truly amazing things. Don’t limit yourself by being afraid to spice things up and try a new idea. You will be astonished at how much more you can get out of life, and your kitchen, by adopting this curious, confident mindset. You will not only fill your belly with some great food, but y will also fill your life with some incredible experiences and your heart with happiness.

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