August 2, 2021 | Artists Cooking
Tampa Bay area Arts Writer
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How I learned to cook creatively during the pandemic
I love a crumb-free keyboard, so most of my cooking doesn’t overlap with my writing. But that distinction dissolved during the pandemic as home cooking columns rose in popularity.
For the first time since I started writing, I began documenting my cooking and drink-mixing adventures in publications. It seemed like a huge departure from my usual art writing, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that cooking can be a creative process as well.
Most of my week-day cooking aims to get something heart-healthy on the table as quickly as possible, but I like to shake things up on the weekend. When making a new dish, my inspirations are as varied as my interests. It’s not unusual for me to cook a meal or mix a drink inspired by a time, place, friend, family member, ingredient, kitchen tool, holiday, event or situation. The cookbooks and online recipes I work from are usually secondary to that initial inspiration.
When making Florida-inspired grouper sandwiches for the first time, I combined advice from multiple sources to make one amazing Fried Grouper Sandwich.
I seasoned the grouper filets with seasoning salt as recommended in Good Catch; dipped the filets in egg followed by a combination of 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. baking powder (as recommended by Coastal Living); fried them in a 1/2 inch of oil in a cast-iron skillet, cooking for about four minutes on each side; then served them on soft brioche buns with tartar sauce and American cheese like you’d find on a McDonald’s filet-o-fish sandwich.
It’s hard to define my style in a single recipe. When I phoned a friend for advice, she reminded me that whatever I choose should be Florida-inspired and have a lot of citrus in it because that’s what I like most. So, rum runners it is. . .
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Frozen Rum Runner
(makes 2 drinks)
My Dad missed Frenchy’s rum runners during the pandemic, so I tried my hand at making a rum runner for him at home on Father’s Day. I used the original Holiday Isle Tiki Bar rum runner recipe as a jumping off point, then I added lime juice and doubled the amount of rum, using Bacardi Dragonberry as my light rum because that’s what they use at Frenchy’s.
To make, combine 2 oz Bacardi Dragonberry rum, 2 oz Bacardi Black rum, 1 oz blackberry brandy, 1 oz banana liquor, 2 oz pineapple juice, 2 oz orange juice, 1 oz lime juice, 1 oz grenadine, and 4 cups ice in a blender. Blend and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
Explore Jen Ring’s work here.