A journey through the culinary world
Excuse me while I ramble on here for a bit about simple syrups…
The beauty of a simple syrup is exactly what the name suggests, how simple it is to make. Adding equal parts sugar and water to a pot and letting it reduce couldn’t be any…easier (trying very hard not to overuse the simple here). I recently made a lemon verbena syrup that I’ve been joyfully adding to my afternoon cup of rooibos tea. For those not familiar with lemon verbena, its a small South American shrub which is now found worldwide and has small glossy leaves which exude the most amazing lemon scent when rubbed. I used this particular syrup to make a confit of clementine (more on that some other time).
Anyway, I now have this large tub of lemon scented syrup sitting in my kitchen next to my smaller tub of cinnamon & star anise syrup. Of course that’s not enough for me. So, I went out and foraged for some lavender and made a lavender syrup to add to my lil collection.
What am I going to do with all this syrup? Good question. I’m still trying to decide. There are plenty of uses for syrup, from confit to cocktails to cakes, its quite a versatile item to have in ones pantry.
So, if you feel the urge to make a simple syrup, here’s a quick recipe:
1 part* sugar
1 part water
1. In a small pot, combine sugar & water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has all dissolved. Allow to cool
To make a flavoured syrup, its best to add your choice of flavour halfway through the boiling process.
*This could be anything from 1 cup to 10 buckets as long as you have equal amounts of both water & sugar
I firmly believe that fate favours the prepared and that its ones choice to either prepare for success or allow themselves to suffer failure. Why am I talking about fate & glory & success & failure? Because I have a skills challenge to face today :)
I’m not an extremely competitive person but I can’t deny that I get a certain thrill from competing in culinary skills challenges. Whether its recreating a dish or using a specific ingredient to its fullest. I love the rush that comes with.
And today I get to face the aptly named “Mystery Box”. For those who don’t know, a mystery box challenge contains ingredients unknown to the challenger that they then have to use in a variety of ways. What makes it so challenging is that you have no idea what’s in the box, so its not easy to prepare for. It could be anything from Abalone to Mopani worms, from Nutella to Zucchini, the possibilities are endless!
You can feel the excitement building before the challenge. Chefs getting dressed in the changing rooms, talking about what they hope is in the box, what they’re prepared for or not, all while hoping for something challenging in the box to prove themselves and achieve glory.
The kitchen becomes unnaturally quiet as each chef prepares in their own way. Some mutter prayers to their Gods, others bounce around nervously (or excitedly in my case) and others talk shit to mask their fear. The most prominent sound being the sound of steel on steel as knives get sharpened to deadly precision. The air is almost electric with anticipation!
To experience that excitement is its own reward, regardless of the eventual outcome, the thrill of competition is glory that I prepare for.