After last night’s fairly sumptuous repast, I felt that doing something a bit lighter was in order, so a simple Tuscan Vegetable Soup seemed appropriate. Rather than spend over $25 to make a Salmon Wellington, I bought some baby spinach leaves, a piece of fennel, celery, carrot, and cucumber. Pretty cheap; less than $5 for all that. I had half a onion at home, low-sodium veggie broth, and garlic…as well as a can of cooked beans (fava) and a can of diced tomatoes as well.

You might wonder what I meant by a ‘breakthrough’ as mentioned in the blog post title above. Plainly put, while I went hunting recipes for an Italian vegetable soup, I found that I had more than an adequate knowledge base of how to actually prepare the soup. When I viewed the recipe (and a couple of other, similar ones), I realized…I didn’t need the recipe.

You might not get it, but one of the things I most admire about chefs…home cooks…is that seemingly uncanny ability to create a delectable meal without prompts, without guides, but by simply using their own experience and cooking knowledge and applying it to a dish at hand.

One always wonders about the phenomenal grandmothers out there who seemingly cooked without cookbooks or recipes, apparently concocting their dishes straight out of their heads. I realize now something: when these people first started out cooking, they probably had no idea what they were doing, and the secret to being able to create from ‘scratch’ or make dishes sing so wonderfully in the mouths of their guests was years and years of experience.

Practice. Simply that. And while I’ve cooked on and off for most of my adult life, it was only after my wife and I returned from Spain that I took cooking so damned seriously, branching out my areas of interest from Spain to other European cuisines, Eastern styles, Middle Eastern, and more. Not to mention baking.

I love to cook. I love to bake. And I want to extend thanks to my wife of over thirty years…Angela Silva, for being my most foremost, honest, and reliable critic…and fan. At first I trusted her own instincts over my own, but gradually gained the personal sense of self-value to realize the difference between her flavor preferences and her generally wonderful palate (better than mine, I think).