The 365 Commitment


A little cooking terminology to chew on here. I have heard my wife, my mother in law, and several food channel celebrities talks about reducing some sauce they are cooking. They always talk about turning up the heat in order to bring the sauce to a simmer and thereby reduce it. I have just never understood this. So finally, I decided to care enough to google it. I was faced with the daunting task of cooking a meal for my family, and the recipe called for making a reduction of a selection of ingredients. I decided enough was enough. Hey Google – “what does the cooking term, reduction mean.”

The process of reduction is probably better termed, thickening. Effectively you are hearing up a liquid mixture in order to increase the thickness and flavor intensity of the ingredients. This, in effect, is called reduction because in actuality you are reducing the water content of the mixture through evaporation. So now I finally understand what this means and I now can handle a recipe that calls for making a reduction of my tomato sauce or whatever. I can also drop this causally in a conversation to sound cool!

However, this lead me to a deeper meaning and I realized that the knowledge had direct applicability to my life. I have had several periods where I almost have to reduce what I am focusing on to a few smaller things, increase the intensity of those things and come out stronger. I have always felt guilty about these periods of time. I felt they were failures, admissions that I could not handle everything and had to lay off for a while. The reality is that in order to improve your intensity, you need to make your own reduction now and then. By spending the time to raise a few components of your life back to a boil, your burn away the excess and are left with a reduced more intense life style. This is very similar to the cooking concept of making a reduction.

In a recipe, the reduction, the roux, or whatever the base is always serves as the core component of the dish that makes up the overall flavor of what is being eaten. The same in our lives. We have a core set of things we do and focus on that we need to reduce down to their essential ingredients, let them simmer for a while before we pour on a whole bunch of other elements. I learned that the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking is bell pepper, celery and onion. Mix those into your sauce base, make a reduction or some concoction and voila you have the basis for an authentic mouth watering meal. In life, I image that we should also have our own personal holy trinity. What are the three major components that make up every day for us? That is your personal reduction.

Guy Reams

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