I’m not a recipe slave. Even beyond the vegan thing and the celiac thing, I don’t feel obligated to hew to Betty Crocker if I have a better idea. If a dish requires onions or garlic, I leave them out. Ditto raisins. Double up the vanilla extract. Skip the coconut. Mostly, this works or at least it tastes like it to someone who hasn’t eaten a bagel since 2005.
My firm belief is that you can always work with the emotional and intellectual and circumstantial ingredients you have on hand. You can always pull out all the cans and bottles and bowls and cobble something together. It’s matter of improvising and recognizing the useful application of what you’re surrounded with. Maybe you can’t find the cookie sheet, so you have to bake snickerdoodles in a pie plate, or you decide to bread the scallops with crushed potato chips, or swap the blueberries in those muffins for chocolate chunks. Or you start taking distance ed classes in order to finish your BA while working your day job. Or you get a roommate and put the money you’re saving on rent toward paying off your student loans. Or you start volunteering at an animal shelter to get your puppy fix until you’re in a position to be a responsible pet owner yourself. There’s always an option right now. There is always something new and interesting and rewarding that you can create with what you already have. Maybe it’s not exactly what you’ve been craving, but it meets an immediate need for sustenance and tides you over until you can truly get your fill.
Stop throwing in the towel because you only have walnuts and the recipe calls for almonds, or giving up before you start because whatever you concoct isn’t worth a spot on the menu at The French Laundry. Realize that being out of cocoa isn’t the end of the world. You can make something that doesn’t call for cocoa. And then the next time you’re at the supermarket, maybe you can remind yourself to pick some up. Or maybe you get distracted by looking for the briniest olives possible.
There’s a whole world out there between famine and filet mignon. Eat up.