How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Back in the 70’s, two of my favorite singers, Meg Christian and Chris Williamson, had a line in one of their albums. They asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer was, “practice, practice, practice.” When I first started my reflections here, it was because of a series of dreams I had about being The Next Food Network Star. In my dreams, I kept advancing to the next round until I ultimately won. Having the confidence to apply to the show would be my getting to Carnegie Hall. So how am I going to get to that place, the same answer, “practice, practice, practice.” Watching the show the last few seasons, I have come to realize that one of my strengths would be that I have this clear point of view to my cooking.
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Freedom and discipline

Gary Snyder once wrote, “Zen aims at freedom, but it’s practice is discipline.” When I read that, it immediately reminded me of how my mother used to say, "Practice makes perfect." As I was thinking about this quote more it reminded me of the teachings of Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements. He writes about how we have spent so much time in our lives practicing certain emotions that we have them down to an art form. Most of us have no problems with emotions like anger, jealousy, resentment, fear, etc. yet the emotions that make us feel loved and are positive in nature like love, peace, calm, etc are the ones we have yet to master.
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It’s a macaroni and cheese kind of story

When I think back on my life, I cannot remember a time when I was not cooking something. I remember as a little girl my mother would sit me on the floor with a pot of water and a spoon and tell me to stir. It kept me busy, but instilled in me a comfort in the kitchen. As I grew older, she would let me experiment more and more. The funny thing is that while my mother could out bake me on any day, I by all family accounts am the much better cook. To this day, my brother and I still laugh about my mother’s dry turkey, meat that was either still mooing or shoe leather and spaghetti sauce made with ketchup, water, and cream cheese. So I think I began cooking for my family because I could not stand my mother’s cookingJ. When my mother cooked the old time Jewish foods like kasha, kugel, knishes, blintzes, and the list goes on, they were awesome and we fought for the last bite. But the rest of the time, well let’s say my brothers and I were glad we had a dog.
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Getting Back In the Zone

For the last few weeks, I have been going through this challenging time with my cooking. It is not that I have not been cooking, I have. However, since Zoë and I made the decision to eat healthier, focusing on whole foods and those lower in the glycemic index, I have found myself going through this time of doubt. Where I had once felt free to be inventive and creative in the kitchen, I all of a sudden found myself feeling pulled back into a world where I wanted to be assured by a recipe. So much of Western culture is about having a recipe in front of you that tells you how to do something. This how to approach to cooking takes all the creativity out of it. I have been so de-inspired that last week, I didn’t even feel as if I had anything to say. Had I been on one of the TV cooking competitions, it would have been one of those bad meal kind of days. My soul was just not in my cooking.
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