Saturday, January 14, 2012


By Julie Rahm
"The secret is there is no secret ingredient!"
Po the Kung Fu Panda, who blinds people
with his sheer awesomeness

Despite the rumors, I am an outstanding cook. My mother made that certain. I did all the household cooking before my husband, John retired from Marine Corps. Now, John spends a good deal of time at home and contributes to the cooking. His contributions have not been easy. The Marine Corps did not prepare John for battle in the kitchen. But, he is a quick learner and his cooking skills have improved dramatically. However, there are so many kitchen lessons we take for granted. For instance, olives are not vegetables. Olives are fruit. Hence, olive oil is not necessarily a good substitute for vegetable oil. Along the same lines, baking soda is not a suitable substitute for baking powder! Chili pepper is not a good substitute for black pepper. Even worse was John’s Picante Sauce for Spaghetti Sauce swap. Granted, the logic holds. Both are red, made with tomatoes and come in jars. But, the Mexican Spaghetti had too much culinary clash for me. It was the spiciest spaghetti I ever tasted!

I empathize. It is difficult to know what you do not know. The Marine Corps trained John to improvise, adapt and overcome. While useful in armed conflict, this strategy should not be a standing order in the kitchen. Also, John doesn’t like to ask questions. He was a single seat fighter pilot and, as the only one in the jet, was trained to face challenges on his own. At the risk of sounding sexist, men generally won’t ask for directions while driving the car or cooking in the kitchen. However, I’m convinced anyone can cook. Recipes are easy to follow. Problems arise when the required ingredients are not in the kitchen pantry. Substitution is fraught with culinary risk. Often, I hear John complain about our lack of proper ingredients for a particular recipe. I am thankful we are not our kitchen pantry. You see, even though our kitchen pantry might lack certain culinary ingredients, we have all the requisite personal ingredients to live a happy and fulfilling life. Unlike your kitchen cabinet, you have all the ingredients to complete your life’s recipe. There is nothing missing from you. You are as intended and as required.

I often hear people lament, “If only I was smarter, I’d be richer.” Or, “If only I went to college, I’d be happier.” Or, “If only I was taller, I’d be better.” Rubbish. You are the complete package right now. You do not need the extra ingredients to live the life you want. All the ingredients for your success reside within you. Step into the kitchen of life and start cooking! Don’t worry about what you think should be in your personal pantry. Fortune favors the brave. Call up your instinctive courage. If you dream it, you can do it! All the ingredients are there in you.

For help using your personal ingredients and cooking up the life you desire, visit my website at or email me at

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