Shying Away

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers. -Laurie Colwin

I was painfully shy as a kid. When our family would go to dinner together, my mom and dad would have to order for me because I didn’t want to speak to the server. I didn’t make new friends easily – I had virtually the same friends all throughout school. I’m much the same way now. It takes me time to warm up…but once I do, I never have difficulty in progressing to a place where I’m comfortable – often so comfortable that it can be interpreted as brazen.

In reality, I’m gauging. There is something in the ability to watch and observe that gets me to a place where I find the boundaries before I cross them, where I see the direction to take before I get lost.

I approach food the same way. With any new recipe that piques my interest, or an ingredient I come across that I haven’t yet implemented into a dish, I “read” a flavor. I look at it, over and over, and form a variety of angles to consider, finding the same direction and boundary span that I search for in people. At what point would I be going too far? What might possibly insult it? What would complement it? Might I improve it, or will it just not agree with me?

This recipe is a combination of different flavors and textures, that combine to create a wholly satisfying meal on nights when I'm feeling lazy and can only summon the energy to throw ingredients into a dish.

Sweet & Crunchy Chicken Casserole

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped Granny Smith Apple
2 cups grated Colby/Monterey Jack Cheese
1 pkg. slivered almonds
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayo
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup crushed potato chips

- In a large bowl, combine chicken, celery, apple, 1 cup of the cheese, and the next 4 ingredients, blending well.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes; sprinkle remaining cheese and potato chips on top and bake additional 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chips are beginning to brown.

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