The Path Of Adventure

“The heart has reasons of which reason has no knowledge.” ~ Blaise Pascal

~     ~     ~ 

Growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you’d think I was surrounded by water.  Nada.  My back yard was fenced in by corn fields, hay fields, bean fields, and barns.

Other than the residual puddle after a heavy rain (or the “cow tank,” if you were hard-pressed for a dunk and didn’t mind being nudged by a Holstein), the closest body of water was a quarter-mile down the road — a drainage ditch which I affectionately (or desperately) called “the creek.”

It drew me like a magnet.

Running along the east edge of our farm, the creek was no more than three feet wide at it’s widest and barely shin-high, with just enough “grade” to trickle over the rocks birthed each Spring by post-glacial labor pains.  Minnesota has more rocks than lakes.

I made that quarter-mile trek often and at varying speeds, depending on the state of things at home or in school.  Most of the time I “got along okay” at both places, so my pace wasn’t much faster than an amble.  Lost in thought, I’d scuff up dust or kick rocks in front of me until I reached my visual cue to stop: a rusty, corrugated culvert where the creek intersected the road and gurgled underneath before meandering farther south.  There, I’d clamber down the ditch, hop across the narrowest puddle, and commence with my own meandering.

But, on days when childhood crises or teenage angst or unsettling words echoed in my mind, I’d march down the road at a brisk clip — sometimes even sprint — spurred on by the serenity I knew I’d find there after I wiped away a tear or two.  There wasn’t a problem the creek couldn’t cure.  Water has a restorative effect on me, and for a makeshift tributary, it sufficed.

The banks on either side were lined with tall grasses, fox tails, and a multitude of wild plum trees.  In May when the plum blossoms opened, I’d revel in their fragrance, brushing aside honey bees with a good-natured “shoo” as we took in that soft, sweet smell together.  They never stung me; it wasn’t a competition — it was mutual admiration.

Except for barren, gaping “dirt cliffs” gouged out by eddies during snow-melt or after the Spring and Fall rains (depending on how the water ran), the banks were an inviting place to lie back, think thoughts, and dream dreams.  A young girl’s paradise.

Most of the time it was innocuous — close enough to wander unsupervised, a sanctuary uninterrupted by daily life — but when the water was high, it was downright dangerous.

Run-off from the neighboring fields collected rapidly between the banks, increasing in depth and speed until they culminated in an angry-looking whirlpool at the mouth of the culvert.  It churned ominously, devouring dirt and gravel until the water receded, leaving a dinosaur-sized bite out of the edge of the road.

Despite warnings to “stay away,” I felt compelled to get as close as I could.  I’d “sneak down to the creek” and throw good-sized rocks into the maw, just to watch them get sucked under.  Then I’d listen for the dull “clunks” as the maelstrom chewed them up and spit them out, catapulting them through the culvert to the other side of the road.  I marveled at how anything could survive such an ordeal.  Little did I know, it was a metaphor of my life to come.

The creek was a place to cry over crushes gone bad, dabble in poetry, nibble on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and dream of worlds bigger than my square-mile existence.  It showed me how to balance risk with common sense by balancing on rocks.

It taught me to listen to my heart.

The beginning of adventure. ~

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

When I was a truck driver, I thought about food all the time.  Not “Gee, I hope they have chicken fried steak at the next truck stop” kind of thoughts — I’m talking about full-fledged grocery wish-lists.

Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder and I missed my kitchen terribly; by the time I climbed down from a semi cab for the last time, I was three years ahead on menu planning.

For me, the adventure on this culinary journey comes from seeing ideas through… from inspiration to dinner plate.  Or dessert plate. :)

As with any adventure, there’s risk involved.  The trick is in “balancing” what you know with what you hope to accomplish.  (And if you don’t know, ask.)  90% of cooking “adventures” could be avoided with a little research; the other 10% are due to a deplorable lack of common sense.  (Eggs really do explode in the microwave.)   Ahem.

With the resources available to cooks today, there’s no reason to be afraid of trying something new.  When I first started cooking “for real” (Ramen doesn’t count… and yes, stoves were already invented…), I was armed with nothing more than a Better Homes & Garden Cookbook, a year’s subscription to Bon Appetit, and an insatiable desire for flavor.

Now there are cooking shows, videos with step-by-step “tutorials,” a multitude of reputable cooking blogs, and — as a last resort — the Internet to answer your questions.  Again, use common sense.  If it doesn’t “feel right” to add a cup of salt (instead of a teaspoon, like your heart is telling you…), don’t do it.  Typos happen.

While common sense can (and should) dictate technique, ideas are driven by adventure — those “aha” moments when a food or flavor combo enters your brain… your heart, actually.  Be inventive, creative.  Go for it!  The difference between a “so-so” meal and one that potentially rocks your world is the amount of time, effort and risk you’re willing to put into it — a gourmet gamble, so to speak, but so-o-o-o worth it when you follow your heart.  Most of all, it’s just plain fun.

Enjoying the adventure,

~ Kim

Where has your heart led you… in the kitchen… and in life?

31 thoughts on “The Path Of Adventure

    • Thank you so much, Heather! Actually, that thought popped into my mind this morning! … I can’t NOT write. Or cook. (And I have recipes, with photos of the respective forks for each “path,” to be posted after I’m done writing this series.) Hmmmm…

      Your appreciation and encouragement mean so much to me. :)
      ~ Kim

  1. I love it! I second Heather on her idea of you writing a book! You describe where the the truck driver is coming from, I am that truck driver too. I often sit in the dunes of Dubai, I too miss the New England clam chowda, fried clams and a good ole fashion lobster roll. Like yourself, food and writing provoke an adventure of the senses, I would be SO excited to read your book!

    • Nasrine, you’re a woman after my own heart… lobster rolls… could it get any better? I’m humbled by your comments (and your adventure in the Middle East) — but everyone’s “adventure” is different, and that’s what makes them special! Your comment confirms what my heart has always known: people need each other — to notice and rejoice — and you’ve done both for me. Thank you.

  2. Oh my Kim, that is lovely and so well written (as usual) Funny thing, just this morning I was searching for a recipe and I found one printed from a web site (mrs. mar… ste…if you know who I mean!) and it called for 9 cups of flour for 35 cookies! So I went back to the web site and the recipe is gone! granted I printed the recipe 5 years ago but still…gone…poof! Typos do happen! Luv ya!

  3. I love this blogging journey and yes, I think the posts that draw me in and captivate me are the ones that tell a story that I can crawl inside. Perhaps our blogging with intention group will evolve into a writing with intention group, a writer’s project—doesn’t that sound divine?

    I love the gourmet gamble! Wouldn’t we have so much more fun in the kitchen if we allowed ourselves the flexibility to cookCREATEsimmerDRIZZLEdrop with abandon (and a glass of wine). I wonder who came up with the first “recipe”? I think I might just have to check that out on Google University.

    Thank you for embarking on this series. I fully expect to see it in a book some day. :)

    • Sue Ann, “writing with intention” DOES sound divine! I also love your five-words-in-one phraseology — (with a glass of wine!) — that’s such a neat way of expressing all that goes on simultaneously in the kitchen and in our souls. Your creativity inspires me! :)

      Let me know what you find out about that first recipe — I hadn’t thought about that before — love where your thoughts “adventure” to — and thank you SO much for affirming my aspirations. I feel “hugged” by you, and everyone who’s commented here. (Thanks y’all!)

  4. A lovely post! I agree – sometimes you have to go with your heart…whether it leads you to the creek bank or the stove top!

    I’ve had a few kitchen adventures, but I had no idea how to cook when I opened my first cookbook and fell in love…

    • Oooooooooh, Ann! Do I detect “Chapter 1” coming soon from your blog?! (I hope so!) That sounds like a STORY to me.. :) Go for it, girlfriend!! I’d love to read “the rest of the story!”

  5. I’m a self-taught cook & I’ve always enjoyed cooking & experimenting with food. My son is having his exams now. I was telling him during this sch holiday, I’m gonna impart him some skills in cooking. He should learn, even tho’ he’s a boy.

    I’m one of wacky ones who enjoys messing up the kitchen whenever I’ve the time. So glad I found foodies with common interest like you. You’re such an excellent writer!

    • Shirley, if anyone exemplifies a sense of adventure, it’s YOU! I never know what to expect from your blog … LOVE IT! Kitchen messes will always clean up, but the memory of them (and teaching your son to cook) will be passed on and on. Thank you for your encouragement!

  6. Ever since I was a young girl I was an adventurous eater and a world traveler. I longed always to try something new and today I still live that way. It was my way of forging ahead in the world and finding new flavors, tastes and food I couldn’t find in my mom’s kitchen. I’ve kept that spirit going, and love nothing more than visiting new places, eating what the locals eat and searching for unique goodies in foreign supermarkets.

    I agree that it’s never been easier to try something new and be adventurous in the kitchen and beyond. I am now trying to impart this on my 3-year old daughter.

    And I agree with the others: I see this as a book!

    • Tracey, I love it: “forging ahead in the world and finding new flavors…” There’s something exhilarating about trying something new and feeling like you’ve “been there before,” or CELEBRATING a flavor for the first time — the world is a smaller place than we imagine when “adventure” takes us there. (Especially in the kitchen.) Love — and/or JOY — is the universal ingredient.

      Your food wisdom will be absorbed by your daughter. My “Bebe Girl” (as I call her) and my son (an accomplished cook in his own right) both have “the knack” — and I couldn’t be happier for them! Thanks again for your uplifting comments and a deeper glimpse of “you.” :)

  7. I love your description of the creek as that go-to place to find rest in your spirit. I feel like the beach is that place for me now . . . at least when the weather is nice. During the winter it will have to be my glider by the window, looking out at the tree-lined street.
    You’re such a great writer Kim! I’m also loving this series, to echo what some of the other women have already said.

    • Jenna, your beach photos have “calmed my heart” during some pretty chaotic days. I love the light and structure you draw in… plus your Alaska photos… WOW.

      It’s neat that you have an alternate calm spot — me, too! Our back porch is just as inviting as our deck, even though I can’t see the lake from it. But, it’s a haven and I’m refreshed by time I spend there. GO! (Before the snow flies … sorry to bring that up…) — enjoy EVERY nanosecond at the beach (or in your glider) while you can. Thanks, kiddo!

  8. Such a beautiful post. I adore how adventure whispers to our heart…even when we cannot take the risk yet…it’s there waiting for it’s time…

    Your cooking and posts inspire me :) Adventure forth Kim!

    • Miss Christy, we both seem to have our minds on “adventure” lately… :) I love how you hint at the prospect of it… it doesn’t always have to be “in-your-face-right-now” to enjoy it, or be energized by it. You’ve taught me the beauty of waiting patiently, just like “the creek.” :)

  9. This is really beautiful Kimby and I too believe that we should follow each endeavour with our heart perhaps 80 – 90% and say 20 – 10% with our brain as a check. Being trained as a CPA doesn’t help my desire to go with my heart because I’m always held back by the supposed “logical and sensible” thing to do. But I have found that when you do something with passion and from the heart, especially in music and cooking, no amount of logic can explain the fire that fuels the task at hand.

    If you have an affinity for water, perhaps you can check to see which year you are born under the chinese horoscope and you will find that you belong to one of the 5 elements – water, fire, metal, wood or earth. It may give you further insights into your personality and align you towards things that matter most in your life.

    • I admire people who work with numbers! (I was always fascinated by how “numerical” Bach pieces are, too… I can only do so many of them before my “non-number” personality takes over, ha!) Interesting suggestion on the five elements — I’m sure I’m water-aligned, but all of the elements appeal to me, as do your thoughtful comments!
      ~ Kim

  10. “Water has a restorative effect on me” – me too! I am soothed by the water and can’t believe it some years that I am landlocked. I am so much happier by the water. I have a small pond in my back yard that will do for now… Love reading about your younger days and it makes me remember things I’d forgotten about my time out in the country (before my parents divorced). Thanks for sharing!

    • Nolita — ponds, puddles — even rain dripping off the roof — has that restorative power! Glad this post brought back memories for you. Thanks for stopping by!
      ~ Kim

  11. Hey Kim!

    I agree with the postings above. You should write a book! Your bring a totally different perspective to the foodie world. Plus, the way you’re able to capture your readers with your words, you could capture them to join you on your food adventure… Just saying…

    Best,
    Marion

  12. So lovely Kim!! You words tumble down the page like water rushing through a culvert. I just love the imagery your stories invoke, and the metaphor for how an approach to food can reflect a holistic life approach, one where, “the difference between a “so-so” meal [life] and one that potentially rocks your world is the amount of time, effort and risk you’re willing to put into it — a gourmet gamble, so to speak, but so-o-o-o worth it when you follow your heart…”

    • Emelie, my tumbling-water-words weren’t an intended effect, so it was a delight to read your observation. It added another dimension to this piece that I hadn’t thought of — thanks for noticing!
      ~ Kim

  13. Dare I say, that you could be the next Food Network Star. I think that is the key to making food memorable. I has to come with a history. Something that makes it personal. A memory shared among all who gather at the table of experience. Once again I am transported by your writing to worlds far away in my memory and imagination. I plan to take a cue from your writing in my own and impart more personal memories and experiences. I tend to lean toward a message in my writing and shy away from personal feeling, but you have enticed me to try. Thanks for putting the beautiful colors and smells from your past into words. You are truly an artist Kimby!
    Matthew

    • Matthew, your comment made me smile for a number of reasons: 1) I agree with you that food is more interesting with a story attached; 2) it’s wonderful that you’re considering sharing ‘yourself’ in your own writing; and 3) I loved that you saw ‘colors’ when I essentially posted this in black and white. Good imagination! :)

      As for your Food Network Star comment… thank you! I’m not so sure I’m ready for that yet — or them for me, lol! (But I’ll keep it in mind…)
      ~ Kim

  14. I lived across the street from a beautiful, calm, wide river… to which I would run almost every evening for respite. I think that’s where I had my first real conversations with God. Such sweet times!

    As for the food… I find that the hardest part of cooking a really satisfying meal is (1) I’m not much of a planner, and that seems kinda important in this area… When 6:00 rolls around and I haven’t yet decided what to make, odds are it’ll be very simple and not very exciting; and (2) Buying lots of ingredients seems so expensive. But mostly (1). :)

    • Carrie, believe it or not, my budget is pretty paltry, lol. I cook a lot of things from scratch and have the time to do it, so that helps! As for planning… well, most days I operate the same way as you do. :) Always an adventure…

Your thoughts are valued. What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s