Back when I was working in an office, we had a recurring staff meeting that was a bit like show-and-tell for adults. We’d go around the circle all showing off something that inspired us in hopes that it might inspire our colleagues in a similar manner. I worked in a creative job, and it was always a struggle because we were constantly trying to harness inspiration and use it for business. It’s taxing trying to be creative in a business world. And so we didn’t get totally burnt out (although, I eventually did—hence why I no longer work there), we did just about anything we could do to keep the inspiration flowing.
Sometimes people ask me where I come up with the ideas for my recipes (I have 300+ on the pages of this blog, and an additional 200+ in my two cookbooks), and I’d be lying if I said it’s always easy. Sometimes it is. But more often than not, being inspired takes work. You have to prime yourself for inspiration—really be willing to accept it. And you have to go out and seek it. A lot times, we have this image of “waiting for inspiration to strike,” but I’m a big believer that inspiration doesn’t just strike, you have to work for it.
So that’s why I try to absorb as much food-related content as possible when I’m trying to come up with my recipes. I subscribe to more food magazines than I care to divulge. I read tons of blogs. I spend a good chunk of time each day on Pinterest. I study menus at my favorite restaurants. This makes it sound like that my inspiration is actual thieving of ideas—but it’s different from that. When we were brainstorming at my previous job, we had a no negativity rule—you weren’t allowed to shoot down any idea. Because that idea could birth another idea which could birth another idea which could birth another idea that was the idea you went with. And if you nixed the first one, you might never get down that path. I apply that same logic to food. I see something that appeals to me, and I let it swirl around until it turns into something all mine (and oftentimes completely unrecognizable from the original).
One of the places I’ve been getting inspiration from lately is from Yahoo! Food. Yahoo! has put together a bunch of really fun online magazines that center around one topic. Go figure, my favorite of the bunch is the one that is packed with drool-worthy food! The content comes from all around the internet—bloggers, print magazines, cookbook authors—and is curated all into one place for easy reading. I like to flip through it while I’m trapped under a sleeping baby (thankfully the site is easy to navigate one-handed on my phone).
When I was flipping through Yahoo! Food last week, I was inspired by this recipe for Black Bean and Edamame Burgers. I’m always looking for more ways to bring vegetarian eats into our dinner plans, and these black bean burgers were just the spark of inspiration I needed. One problem—I’m currently not eating soy. That meant it was time to take the rough idea of the burgers, and create something all my own!
These black bean burgers are delicious, meaty, and hearty, but they are not, in any way, shape, or form, fast. They are tasty enough to be worthy of your time, but I wouldn’t put these on your menu for a Tuesday night. What I would do is devote a few hours on the weekend and make a double batch to freeze. These freeze beautifully after cooking, and make a great office-friendly lunch after a minute in the microwave.
May you find inspiration all around you! Enjoy.