Your author, having fun  
This is an entry for Project Foodbuzz, so get out there and ROCK THE VOTE for me!

In high school had a pair of shorts that read on the inside label, “Life is a lot more fun when you're having fun.”  It was written upside down and really, the only time it would have ever been seen was when the person wearing them happened to be on the toilet.  The people who made the shorts knew that oftentimes those moments are spent in reflection, and that mantra has been with me ever since.

There are many ways to have fun while cooking. You can have fun by creating new things: Hibiscus Bubbles, Lemon Verbena Fruit Salad, Spanish Almond Soup, Tomato Martinis, Oven Dried Persimmon, Gaucho Chili Verde, and Chelada Turkey Tacos.  What is more fun however - is making the mundane interesting.

Let me show you some of the fun things we have incorporated into our daily lives.

Make your own pepper blendMake your own pepper blends:  Black pepper (Piper nigrum) goes in nearly every savory dish in western cuisine.  Boring.  Make your own pepper blends to "spice things up a bit" - get it?  Never mind.  While green peppercorns are the unripened seeds of the same species, pink peppercorns are not.  Many blends come with those three, black, green, and pink, but have fun by adding more exotic spices that play nice with the black pepper profile.

Grains of Paradise (Afrimomum melegueta) are in the ginger family and taste like a cross between black pepper and nutmeg.  Our current grinder (yes it's a plastic disposable that's earned a second life) currently grinds out a 50/50 black pepper / Grains of Paradise blend.  It’s delicious, and it adds such a delicate nuance, unsuspecting guests cannot tell.  For the next blend I think we’ll introduce some Sichuan pepper.

Make your own Seasoned SaltMake your own Seasoned Salt.  Salt is boring too.  When I was a kid, I became intrigued by the salt alternatives like Accent, Spike, and Mrs. Dash.  I still am.  How could something taste salty if it doesn't have any salt in it?  Lowry's built an empire on their Seasoned Salt and nearly every home in the US has a jar, but that doesn't mean that you can't make your own.  Currently our consists of Kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, Tony Chachere’s Cajun blend, and sumac.

Try interesting oilsTry interesting oils:  There are other cooking oils besides olive oil.  Of course you should keep some great olive oil on hand, but branch out!  We have been through bottles of Avocado, Walnut, Peanut, Almond, Sunflower, and Grapeseed Oil.  My current oil of choice is Coconut Oil; the poor guy has been accused of being unhealthy but has a ton of healthy lauric acid.  Next on my list is cold-pressed Canola, it is supposed to be much more flavorful than the normal Canola you cook with.

Never buy salad dressing:  At the very least, an acid, an oil, and salt, make dressing.  Use some fun oil (besides olive oil) and mix it up with different citrus fruits and different vinegars.  Tangerines and Grapefruits make excellent dressings, as do Sherry and Champagne Vinegars.  Add some Brewers Yeast, and try adding different mustards.  One of my favorite dressings is with red wine vinegar, brewers yeast, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and stone ground mustard.  Try it on a Spinach Salad.

Make the most amazing cup of coffee every morningMake the most amazing cup of coffee each morning:  Every day brings a new world of possibilities.  Start it off right with the best cup of Joe you can muster.  It has taken me 18 years of making my own coffee each morning, and I’ve got it nearly to a science.  It starts with buying beans from your coffeehouse and I have them grind it on a #2.  This is fine like an espresso grind.  I know what you’re thinking, I ground my own for more than a decade.  If you drink coffee every morning, don't worry, you will easily go through that pound of beans before it gets stale.

Next buy a plastic cone and some paper filters.  Boil your water and I add a heaping tablespoon for each mug, maybe a little extra for those mornings when the eye boogers are especially thick.  If you like sugar, add it to the coffee in the filter.  This, I assure you, will be the best cup you’ve ever had.  Mess around with the extras, different sugars, soy, almond, and hemp milks.  There’s no need to mess with the process.

When it comes to the kind of coffee, mix it up.  Different regions produce different styles of coffee; the major ones are South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.  Go through each one to become familiar, then start working on blends.  Make them your own.  If your coffeehouse sells loose beans, ask them to mix them for you and grind them up together.  Peet’s sells an excellent blend called Major Dickason’s that was developed by one of their customers.  Maybe one day you’ll have your own blend named after you.

Brew your own beerZymology, brew your own beer:  People have been doing it for thousands of years.  It’s easy and your results will often be better than anything you can find in a store.  I make my own beer and I have been since before I could legally buy it.  They don’t ID for yeast, hops, and malt.  I have been to the edges of good taste and back.  Some of my creations include: Kava Kava Cranberry Mint, Agave Lime beer with Chilies, Mocha Stout, Multigrain Light and Multigrain Dark (they included barley, wheat, oats, rye, and rice), and a Hoppy Hard Cider.  

Brewing is easy.  If you drink beer, you should make beer.  Read a book, buy a kit, and make some.  My dad made his own wine when I was growing up and although I’ve taken a home-winemaking class, I don’t have the storage for it right now.

Brew your own vinegarBrew your own vinegar:  A friend gave me a vinegar mother about two years ago and I’ve been brewing my own red wine vinegar ever since.  I started with a bottle of Petit Syrah and, whew, it is intense!  Now, whenever we don’t finish a bottle of red wine, we add it to the jar and it continues.  Call it a cuvee if you will.  This is how the ancients did it.  There is nothing I’ve ever tasted like real red wine vinegar.  It not only makes salad dressings amazing, but a little splash adds that note of acidity that make dishes pop.

Brew your own kombuchaBrew your own kombucha:  I started drinking kombucha with the rest of the masses about two years ago and when I finally read up on it, I realized how simple it is to make.  I ordered a kombucha mother on eBay for about $10 and have been cranking it out.  I have made mint, cranberry, orange, lemon, basil, and pomegranate.  Sipping a kombucha after a good workout really hits the spot.  

So there you have it.  Change up your nuts and bolts routine to make things more interesting and you will have more fun in the kitchen.  Listen to my shorts, “Life is more fun when you’re having fun.”  Or, if you don’t listen to my shorts, listen to Vince from the Slap Chop commercials, “Stop having boring tuna.  Stop having a boring life.”


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science