Invention is recombination. ~ Ursula Le Guin
These words caught my eye.
It simplifies the complex and makes the seemingly impossible, simply… not yet.
Everything we need to (re)invent is right here, right now.
Utilizing our experience, we choose… the materials, the words, the characters, the colors, the ideas, the truths, the tastes and smells… and (re)combine them to create something new.
It’s (re)imagining how to partner and create, with alchemy and magic, science and erudition.
In some small or large way, we engage in this practice every day.
Baking. Writing. Choosing words. Crafting solutions. Finding cures. Navigating journeys. Forging pathways. Encountering edges. Ancient wisdom is as necessary to this process as the contemporary vision that desires to invent the thing-that-never-has-been-before.
To invent is to recombine…
I often will say that I’ve come to the edge of my knowledge on something. I recognize my experience, my what-is-known, is missing an ingredient or would benefit from a technique, and it’s time to seek an original or trusted source for more information.
We’ve been talking an awful lot about pie around here, and since several of you have inquired about the miso caramel I mentioned in a recent Story Every Day post, I’ll head in this direction.
The recipe for the apple pie… well… there are three main components:
The crust: butter versus lard, how cool the water or cream or milk must be, to add vinegar or vodka or not, to process or mix by hand or by forks, how long to chill or freeze or thaw, to blind bake or not, to cover the edges with foil or not, and at what temperature… (I favor a cream cheese/butter dough with icy water and chilling the dough in the fridge before rolling it out - it's a heavier dough, but the extra fat means it's more forgiving)
The filling: how many apples to use and how thick to slice them, which spices to add, how much sugar and what about salt… (I favor a mix of granny smith and a softer apple, a dash of angostura bitters, cinnamon but sometimes 5-spice or nothing at all, just apple, the least amount of sugar I can get away with, and then pile high thin slices in an even mound before covering with a top crust that is brushed with cream and then dusted with sugar)
The caramel: here is the base recipe I begin with. The science is always the same, but I fuss with the details - depending on the miso that is available (each brand and type influences the flavor and texture), and I add this or subtract some of that (because high altitude is game changer, but so is humidity, and it depends on how I’ve spiced the pie - regardless, I never use a full 1/2 cup of cream).
The pie is an invention every time. My baking experience informs me what needs to be adapted on any given day, and I simply (re)combine the elements.
When I met Brian, he was a gluten free tea drinker. I taught him about coffee and he introduced me to Earl Grey. And then I spent hours in the kitchen adapting my tried and true recipes to be gluten free… some made the grand transition, several recipes did not. But it was a grand experiment. I read all I could find about substitutions, leavening agents, nut flours, but the bits that were most useful had to do with understanding the science. Exact measurements were not reliable. It took assessing what I knew with what I didn’t, digging around for information to fill in the gaps, and then getting my hands dirty as I worked it out.
I think it’s the same process with anything we decide to invent or create or cultivate… At the heart of it all is desire and deep play.
always in motion,