Lesson 24: Take what you have and make it work
Many things I have forgotten from my childhood, but that one recipe book I’ll never forget. With its small font that made it look more like a novel, the book boasted only a few images of desserts including a colorful cover, also with a cake on it. I remember reading recipe after recipe in hope of finding one that my sisters and I can possibly recreate. Having only the basics in our pantry, we’ve never heard of vanilla extract, so we skipped cake after cake because we simply didn’t have all the ingredients. If someone would have just told us that vanilla extract is more of a flavor factor, oh the desserts we would have made.
Who doesn’t love perfect recipes with all the ingredients at hand? Yet, if you’d ask my mom or grandma, you don’t always have that luxury. “We took whatever we had and made it work,” my grandma once told me after sharing her crepes recipe. “During war time,” she would continue, “one egg was all I had for crepes, but you can put six to eight.” My mom has similar stories where a substitute of a substitute had to do.
There’s something about living in a luxury world that makes us forget that it’s possible to get by even when all you have is a substitute. And most of us have far more than substitutes. Often I take the same approach to many things in life. Since I don’t have this, or it’s not as perfect as I want it, I’m therefore not able to do this or that. Don’t have all the experience, not enough resources or just one lens short . . . whatever the excuse, I have them and often miss out on a cake, because of one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
I’m reminded today again that I don’t need to have it all, that waiting for perfection is my own loss, and that “Artfulness is a way to take what you’ve got and to make it work.” -anonymous.
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