Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adventures In Cooking, Part 1

I have never been an adventurous cook. Hell, years ago I couldn't boil water.* When I moved up here I did little things like Mac & Cheese with cut up Hot Dogs. We're talking real elegance here. I got braver and for my birthday one year I got a lot of student cookbooks. They were all vegetarian or vegan, which incidentally is what helped in my transition from eating chicken and pork to a completely meat free diet. **

I went through these books and discovered that it's not hard to cook. I know, crazy right? Putting onions, peas and feta cheese over pasta is in fact easy! Astounding! It took me awhile but I learned how to cook somewhat and even took photos like the big dork that I am. I'm pretty sure I still have them, collecting dust on my hard drive.

Anyway, these books were really terrific. The ones that really helped me were
Student's Vegetarian Cookbook, Student's Go Vegan Cookbook and The Starving Student's Vegetarian Cookbook. Though the first two were by the same publisher and had some of the same recipes, I still thought that they were the cat's meow. They even have permanent creases so they stay open easily when I'm cooking. I highly recommend these to ANYONE who knows next to nothing about cooking.

So seeing my humble beginnings as a cook, you should get a decent picture of what I'm capable of. My history is rife with unnerving cooking disasters like the non water boiling and setting a steak on fire while in the broiler) which all make for really great stories.

My point is that I have started to evolve in my cooking skills. I've made a killer aioli that I got from the 'bible' at home (you'll know it better as the Veganonmicon by Isa Chandra & Terry Hope Romero. For those of you non Veggieheads out there, this is like Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I. It's wicked hard sometimes but totally 100% worth it for the stuff that you can come out with it. Seriously. If you don't have a copy and enjoy cooking, or eating for that matter, go and get it.) I've broaden out somewhat to picking up stuff and throwing it in and praying.

But tonight, oh tonight, I shall be trying uncharted waters for me. I'll be cooking something that I've created the recipe for (with some help from my Girlie). It's crazy but when I got home from class last night and after I'd taken my shower, the Food Network was on. True, I ignored most of it because I had my nose in my latest book obsession (re: The Twilight Saga. I swear to you it stolen my SOUL). Right after 'Ace of Cakes' came on this AWESOME show called 'Chopped'.

Chopped is a game show were seasoned chefs compete to win money. They get surprise ingredients that they MUST use. They only have 30 minutes before they need to plate their food and pray that they don't get eliminated. I was immediately sucked in because one of the contestants was a vegan chef. It was pretty cool, even though she was knocked out after the first round. But there was this one dude, Sandy, who was this laid back Texan. He did this thing with duck, potatoes and honey and I swear to god I was salivating, which is impressive given that I like ducks waddling and not roasting.

This got me to thinking. I mean tonight was my turn to cook and I had nothing planned yet. I started talking to Avie about it before we finally conked out and she thought it was a great idea. This morning I started putting it all together and I'll be trying it tonight.

I have to admit, I'm a wee bit nervous but hopefully I won't kill the two of us. Maybe if we're lucky, I'll post the recipe tomorrow, providing that I don't have food poisioning.

[* Seriously, true story. I was dating this guy back in the day and for some reason I decided that I was going to make pasta or something for dinner. I don't remember what were doing but I decided that if we're having pasta we NEED to have garlic bread. Nothing says romance like garlic brea(th)d. Being the food connoisseur I was at 19, we stopped at the store and picked up frozen bread already pre-made with garlic and butter. We get home and I bound into the kitchen with my pasta and frozen bread. I throw the bread in the oven and set a pot on the stove on a low flame. For those of you who know ANYTHING of physics, you'll see the error in my ways, but for the sake of those out there who are really like me, I'll explain. Water needs heat to boil. Lots of heat, so putting it on a low flame to start means that boiling will occur in approximately never. The rest of the relationship, he never let me live that down. I was just glad he Mother wasn't home.]

[** Though that makes me wonder something: I still eat eggs because with the Fibro and the Crohn's it's an easy source for protein. The 'meat' of eggs… is that actually meat? I know that if I could give up eggs, I probably would except that… it's like I said, an easy source for protein for me if I have a bunch of hard boiled eggs all set and ready to go. Anyone have any thoughts?]

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