Monday, February 3, 2014

Meatless Monday: Casseroles & Creativity

Yet another flower from Queen Vic! I discovered that my
TV screen makes a great photo background. (I've been
trying to solve this problem for months! Eureka!)
(Okay, I know, all my days are meatless, so it doesn't really make sense for me to use this "Meatless Monday" meme, but I thought I'd give it a whirl anyway!) 

It's still cold, and I'm starting to get cabin fever (how about you?). I'm still cooking a lot, because it keeps me from thinking about how distant spring is... I still have casseroles on my mind, though I explored the higher-brow end of the spectrum over the weekend (notice how I went with the term "Casserole" for this post). I'm also thinking about creativity.  

You need to think about creativity, too. You need to start thinking seriously about your Capstone Projects (and even if you're not doing a Creative Path Project, you'll need to be creative--I guarantee it!).  You also need to do more blogging, and that takes creativity! 

Coating the tater slices with cream, grated cheese, & fresh herbs.
To make the blogging easier for you, I'm setting a deadline for the first five of your remaining ten posts:  March 7. Later, I'll set another deadline for the last five.  

Back to creativity. It's not something you can force. Folks argue about whether it's something you can teach or not. I don't know if anyone can really teach you to be creative, but I do believe there are some things you can do to improve your chances of being creative. 

  • You need an interesting question to answer or a fascinating problem to solve.
  • You need some background knowledge about your question or problem.  
  • You need to consider lots of possible answers or try lots of possible solutions.
  • You need to think about your question/problem constantly, for a long time. --So much so that you start dreaming about it, & annoying your friends because it's all you talk about, & worrying your teachers because you work it into every class discussion/paper/assignment, even when it's not relevant. You have to saturate (shall we say "marinate?") your brain cells with it.
  • Then, & only then, you need enough additional time to take a break from it & think about something else, giving your mind the opportunity to work it out for you.
If you do these things, I think you can increase your chances of
Setting the slices on edge, vertically rather than
horizontally, in the pan. Total game changer!
having an epiphany or a "Eureka!" moment. I also think that the more often you engage in this kind of process, the more easily, and the more quickly, you get results!

I recently came across a great blog post on one of my favorite food blogs ("The Food Lab" on Serious Eats). Not only did the post include a fantastic recipe, which I had fun trying out over the weekend, but the post described how the writer solved a problem with one recipe (Hasselback Potatoes) by transforming it into another, better, dish (Hasselback Potato Gratin). The writer's thought-process follows the pattern I described above. 

I like "The Food Lab" because it's a blog about creative problem-solving, and the author explains the chemistry of cooking.  The author also includes lots of vegan and vegetarian recipes.
When the taters are packed in tightly, pour the cream &
cheese mix over them, & bake.

I made my own little changes to the recipe:  I replaced the heavy cream with half & half; I used Parmesan cheese only; I used a mix of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, and sage); I added a layer of breadcrumbs after the first 30 minutes of baking.  

So, not only have I solved the problem of what kind of potato dish to make for Thanksgiving next year, but also I've managed to write a blog-post that links casseroles with creativity and includes an orchid photo! Now, take a couple minutes to drool over the photo below, and then get to work! Be creative!
Right out of the oven!  


  1. I am now a huge fan of hot dishes. That looks amazing! And my family LOVES potatoes. Thanks, Susan.

    1. If you try it out, let me know how it goes...