(February was too tricky to name. I could have gone into beer making, but decided instead to take a break.)
My slow-cooker saw a lot of counter time this past fall/winter, something my mother would have applauded, after she woke up from fainting. I've never been known to enjoy cooking, and, in fact, have politely declined joining several recipe-sharing groups, sometimes inwardly muttering "Pffft!" Luckily, time passed, and I started looking sentimentally at the ol' slow-cooker. I started searching for ideas the way we all do now, on the interwebs. "Slow cooker" plus "vegetarian" sent me down a delightful path of discovery: lasagna, minestrone, potato curry chili, apple cinnamon oatmeal. I had no idea I'd find breakfast, too! I tried so many recipes, I started improvising. I'd toss in some English peas where the recipe called for beans. Change up the type of bean with NO REGARD to the title of the dish! Add potatoes, hold the potatoes, throw in different spices. I was a wild woman.
We ate pretty well on slow-cooker days, but I got something even bigger and better out of the whole experience. I gained confidence. Now, that may sound a little cheesy, but these days it seems we are bombarded with images and stories that can make us feel like we don't make much of a difference. So a little self-confidence is neat! (By the way, spray the inside of that slow cooker if you're making a cheesy recipe! I use coconut oil spray.) The Merriam-Webster dictionary says (among other things) that confidence is "the feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something." But I got my confidence, not only from making some damn fine veggie lasagna, but also by making a very bland curry. A bland curry! It was that curry that taught me that mixing Indian spices with Argentinian chimichurri sauce was not just an acceptable fix, but really good! This means that, like the inventors of penicillin, Scotchgard, and Post-It Notes, you can turn your mistakes into, well, penicillin, Scotchgard, and Post-It Notes.* And if you don't invent something world-changing, isn't it just so cool to get back up after falling? To be able to help others on their path? To figure out that a little chimichurri sauce covers a multitude of sins? Yes, those are good things. And you should put them in the plus column when you're doing your personal characteristics inventory.
I spent a lifetime avoiding making anything more challenging than scrambled eggs, and became, through trial and error, a confident slow-cooker cook. Trial and error. Not trial and give up, and not simply trial and success. (Just a reminder, that veggie lasagna was impressive.)
So, get out there and try something new! Dare to fail. And when you do, drizzle some chimichurri on it, take notes and keep going. Woohoo!
* Okay, penicillin was discovered, not invented. But it came about because a petri dish of staphylococci bacteria was left out and contaminated with mold. The first step toward the discovery of Scotchgard was an accidental spill of some fluorochemicals on a lab assistant's tennis shoe. Post It Notes were invented while they were trying to invent a super-strong adhesive, and they were originally yellow only because the lab next door to the Post It team only had yellow scrap paper to use. Come on, that's pretty great!