Mulch and I have this thing where we do things differently. Weird, right?
Our diverse methods shine no brighter than when we are in the kitchen.
To make a meal, I will loosely follow a recipe. And I say loosely, because I am the queen of substitution. No eggs? No problem. Just use some flax meal. Frozen cauliflower instead of broccoli? Who is going to notice? No one, that’s who!
While I’m throwing this and that and letting a little extra cinnamon into the recipe because who doesn’t love extra cinnamon, you can find Mulch perched over the opposite counter, carefully weighing out each gram of flour that is being mixed into the perfect artisanal bread dough.
And while I may giggle at his exactness, it’s his very exactness that produces the delicious loaf of bread a few hours later that I can be found slathering in butter and eating copiously (sorry I eat all your bread, Mulch). I know he would say differently, but I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed in one of his loaves. They all turn out just perfect.
I on the other hand experience some losses from time to time. While substitution can be helpful and open up opportunities that would otherwise be limited by our lack, it can also produce some yucky things. Like, what-on-earth-did-you-use-in-the-recipe kind of yucky.
“I’m not sure why it tastes like this…” I’ve quizzically questioned out loud. Mulch always responds with, “Well, what did the recipe say to use?” to which I almost always respond by slowly slinking back, quietly stating my chosen substitution. Well, that’s why it tastes yucky.
I’ve had to learn that there are certain things where substitution is not an option, while there’s an entirely different world of substitution freedom where it’s completely acceptable to swap out whole wheat for white.
Do you see where this is going?
Living on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific has put my substitution game to the test. And I don’t mean just being adaptive in the kitchen, which I’m beginning to master after shopping almost exclusively at Costco for 3 months and have had to think of a million ways to use up the behemoth packages of food we purchase. No, I’m meaning in life.
There are certain areas of life where we need to follow Mulch’s example, and stick to the recipe. No fudging, no guessing, no subbing this for that. Doing so would spoil the outcome. Loving your spouse, integrity in the workplace, esteeming truth above deceit. Whatever it may be, these areas were meant to be honored for what they are and not subjected to shrewd revisions.
But (not to say Mulch’s method is less important than mine…), I am finding in this period of life, where all I want is not at my fingertips and life is far different than I am used to, flexibility is imperative in the things that don’t require exactness. And being forced to employ your skills of enterprising does a wonderful job at distinguishing between what needs exactness and what doesn’t.
Being stuck in one method of doing things would be paralyzing. The rigidity of exactness would be suffocating. Sometimes in order to survive, we need to be resourceful. Make use of what we have, substitute the unimportant, and recognize what actually is important so we can instead focus our time and energy on those things rather than the excess.
So all that to say…I guess it’s okay if I’m a little scrappy. And I apologize in advance for the dinner I may someday make for you that bombs because I tried to use ketchup instead of tomato sauce. Kidding, kidding…