As I have added years my timidity in the kitchen has decreased significantly, though it never was that high to begin with. I was fortunate to have a dad who liked to cook. He had a little training, though his was in the military and the recipes he had were for several hundred servings. But he was also into the chemistry of food and would often be the one who could assess the refrigerator contents and pull something tasty together quickly. I learned how different ingredients worked together and learned how to figure out reasonable substitutes for what you didn't have. I picked up that skill from him and my wife and I have tried to pass this on to our kids so as a family there is always someone who is able to make dinner. The rule around the house there has long been the rule that if you didn't like what was being served, you could help yourself in making something else. It didn't happen often but occasionally the kids would do exactly that or learned to be able to pull a lunch together or now as they are older cook up a storm with friends.
For me, whether is be with a recipe or needing to pull together something from what is available, I like the experience and have only had a few experiences that have gone down into family lore. Mention pumpkin Polenta to family and you are sure to get a laugh.
I am the weekend cook so depending on the day I may have a little more time than my wife does during the week and can play. Today was a choppy schedule but planning a little ahead I loaded the crock-pot up with multiple types of beans that had soaked over night with leftover anise and the usual root vegetable and a couple of ham hocks for flavor and let it cook through out the afternoon as we were in and out. Add a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine and it was a fine finish to the day.
A few weekends back we had guests and one of the unusual challenges was to create a gluten, sugar and dairy free meal. What I came up with was grilled shish-kabobs with chicken in a lime marinade and peppers, mushroom and red onion over Basmati rice. Fragrant and colorful and devoured.
Desert was more of a challenge and I made a sauce concentrate from cut up apples, pears and peaches and poured it over sliced fruit layered between two rice tortillas and baked with the glaze on the top. I have done these before with flour tortilla with good success but could add some brown sugar and butter to help them along. These too disappeared, though I am not sure about the rice tortillas in this desert form, other than in a pinch.