'What inspires you to cook?'
That must be the most frequently asked question I have come across since I began blogging. For me, it really depends on a number of factors. I find inspiration everywhere, in everything.
My first foray into cooking started in my teens. I think it was a chocolate cake I made. Inspiration for that was ease. Easy to make, easy to clean up, easy to eat. When responsibility set in and I was living on my own and fending for myself, it was familiarity. Comfort. Meals that we ate regularly, nothing fancy. Recipes that weren't written down but came from the heart. recipes that didn't have any accurate measurements but were ball parked. Recipes that sometimes didn't even have names, only descriptions and memories.
Then I moved to Dubai. I wanted a change in direction and pace in my life, take things slower. As I decided to not work for sometime, I unleashed my creativity in the kitchen. Inspiration then came from boredom. Having too much time on my hands, I scoured the internet, numerous food blogs. I tore recipes out of newspapers and magazines were covered with post it notes. It was the years of discovering new recipes as well as my love of being in the kitchen.
Motherhood came next and that was life changing. Inspiration came from wanting to provide the best for my child, my family. Healthy, from scratch, wholesome, homemade. Those words are where I drew my inspiration from.
Once I started this food blog, inspiration really flowed. From all directions, everywhere. Recipes developed as I read other food blogs, as I discovered and photographed unusual ingredients, tried out new dishes on a restaurant menu.
Currently, one of my main sources of inspiration comes from shopping trips- be it the Farmer's market or plain grocery shopping. I'm always on the lookout for anything that looks unusual, exciting. Something colorful, eye catching.
And recently, it is these beets that have had me enthralled. They may seem common to you but I only discovered beets recently. Correction- I only began to LIKE beets recently. Before this, I had only eaten them raw in a salad. That earthy taste did not leave much of an impression.
But when I saw these beautiful baby beets at the market. I knew they would photograph wonderfully. There was my inspiration lying on the table at the farmer's market. Phenomenal shades of red and purple hidden from the world beneath a rustic and raw earthy skin.
Since I'm not a connoiseur when it comes to cooking with beets, I decided simplicity was the key. Beet chips sounded like a good idea and since I had made potato chips in the past, I applied the same method. I knew Maryam would love this little beauties- my most important source of inspiration. Don't we all aspire to please our families.
And she did. She couldn't believe that the chips were homemade. Sprinkled with thyme and rock salt, they are the perfect mid afternoon snack. Or anytime snack really. All that was missing was a crackly plastic bag to eat them out of.
Beet and Potato Chips with Thyme Rock Salt
Himalayan sea salt
Fresh thyme leaves
Oil for deep frying (canola or sunflower oil)
Wash and dry the beets and potatoes. Finely slice with a mandolin. Make sure the slices are dry. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beet and potato slices one at a time so they don't stick to one another. Don't overcrowd the oil. Fry, stirring every so often until they are crispy. Drain on a paper towel and immediately sprinkle with thyme salt. Serve when it cools down.
To make thyme salt, grind Himalayan sea salt with thyme leaves in a pestle and mortar.
Notes: Beets will shrink when fried so you are better off using larger beets. I left the skin on beets and potatoes but that is personal preference.