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Inspiration and Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Submitted by on March 4, 2010 – 5:52 pm9 Comments

Inspiration and Leaving Your Comfort Zone
by Kelly Jaggers

Every picture in the collage above was inspired by something – a memory, fast food, family recipes, or something I tasted that I wanted to make at home.

Inspiration is defined as, “a feeling of enthusiasm you get from someone or something, which gives you new and creative ideas.”

Once upon a time I cooked strictly from cookbooks and never took culinary risks.  At this stage in my culinary progression I was not at all comfortable with changing recipes beyond leaving out ingredients I did not like.  It was a boring culinary life I led, but that changed quite by chance.

One evening I was preparing a recipe for a braised beef roast that I had made before and, while it was good, it was lacking in a flavor I could not quite put my finger on.  I started opening spice and sniffing around to see if I could figure out what the roast needed and it was like a light bulb went off in my brain.  Why would I limit myself to other people’s ideas when I could come up with my own?  Consequently I added bay and tomato paste to the roast and it was delightful.

I tell you this story because it was that moment that changed the way I thought about food and cooking.  Before that moment I assumed that I, a regular cook in a home kitchen, was not capable of creating new recipes.  I was boxed into a corner of my own making.

Today I find culinary inspiration all around me.  Sometimes I am inspired by a beautiful picture on a blog, or by a bowl of ripe fruit.  Other times I am inspired by a childhood memory or by a taste of something delicious.  Whatever the source, I am open to inspiration in a way that I never was before because I am excited by the prospect of creating, and of course eating, new foods!

So, what is the point of all this?  Well, step outside your comfort zone and open yourself up to a new experience.  Keep a notebook and a pen on you so if you see something that sparks the creative juices you don’t forget it.  Impulse buy when you are at the market.  I cannot tell you how many of my recipes were born because I bought something that was not on my grocery list simply because it spoke to me.

Most of all do not be afraid of failure.  When a recipe fails don’t let disappointment keep you from trying again.  I have had some really spectacular failures in my time and I know, especially when I first started creating recipes, how frustrating it can be.  Use the failure as an opportunity to learn and then move on.

We all have a comfort zone, and I challenge you all to get a little uncomfortable and try something new.  Start small, maybe try a new cuisine or buy some produce you have never cooked with before.  If you are forever cooking from a cookbook, set it aside.  If you are like me and you rarely use a cookbook, crack one open and see what other people are up to.  Keep your senses open and don’t be afraid.

Embrace your inspiration!

Kelly Jaggers is a Dallas, Texas based food blogger and culinary student who runs the FoodBuzz Blog Awards-nominated www.EvilShenanigans.com.  Kelly recently participated in Kelly Ripa’s Cake-off for a cause in New York City and is co-founder of the soon to be launched ForgottenFoodies.com.

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