Toni’s Corner

The Search for New

Dec 2, 2019

I guess it was inevitable that I would become my mother. During college summer and winter breaks, most students expect to return to the nostalgia of their rooms exactly how they left them. Muffy the Bunny gently left in the middle of their bed, a favorite book still on the nightstand. I, on the other hand, could always expect something different in my room or the house in general; a more stylish comforter on my bed, or some plush rug taken from another room for a newer model. Some new bauble or piece of furniture was destined to have taken residence in my childhood sanctuary or an odd new soap had replaced the ones I liked in the bathroom. My mom still does this now with home remodeling and hand soaps. It is not that she’s frivolous, more that she needs refreshment in a world that can get humdrum after working so hard for 35 years in the same job and living in the same home.

After having my own bout with this home rearranging obsession, I found that I am this way with food. I have inherited The Search for New. Oklahoma City has had a boom of restaurants within the last 5 years and frankly I am overwhelmed. A new place pops up almost every month and in my seven years of residency, I have probably only been to 5% of the local spots. When I first moved here, I visited new places almost every week with reckless abandon and little regard of a budget. Coming from a small town, I had no idea it was possible to get Greek one night and Pakistani food the next. It was a wonderland of flavors! As I began to settle into my new lifestyle, I realized I would need to slow down if I expected to eat AND pay bills.

Recently, however, that pace has picked up again. With so many new blogs and Instagram pages devoted to the Oklahoma culinary scene, my palate has itched for newness. My vice is food so I spend my little coins on it….don’t judge me. My job is cooking so of course The Search for New has trickled over into that realm at home. Weekends are my days to create. I try to take a walk every Saturday to get new inspiration and recently I constructed what has become one of my favorite meals.

I decided to take a walk along Lake Hefner searching for something to inspire me. As I walked the rocky trail to the lighthouse, I spotted rose petals possibly left there from a proposal the previous night. Immediately I saw hibiscus tea in my head. Looking out over the water, I thought about what fish were swimming in the water deep below. I decided I would make salmon. I’ve been obsessed with Everything Bagels lately and the trail reminded me of the seasoning packed tops so I knew that would be my flavor profile. As I continued my walk, I composed my dish. It would be Baked Salmon seasoned liberally with spices plus my Trader Joe’s™ Everything Bagel seasoning. I decided to add a side salad of roasted and raw vegetables with a hibiscus dressing. I’m one of those people who actually likes grocery shopping, so I took my time gathering my ingredients from multiple stores. Once I returned home, I set out to create this new dish which turned out better than I imagined.

First I made the dressing, making a pot of hibiscus tea and reducing it down to a syrup. Then, I whisked the syrup with white wine vinegar, minced garlic, S&P, and olive oil. After the fish was seasoned and baking, I tossed some vegetables and apples in my vinaigrette. As I sat down to eat this meal, I thought about what I would compose for dinner….this is just how I am.
Every weekend, without fail, I Have to create something different. Some things are wins, some are atrocious creations that make me question my culinary degree. The Search for New is ingrained in my way of life and although I can’t always trek to the newest restaurant opening, my own kitchen provides me with enough tools and inspiration to scratch this high maintenance palate.