Archived entries for rant

Whopper Jr Of A Lifestyle

When I first began Forkable, almost three months ago, I was excited with the prospect of a new project as I anxiously set up lists of possible posts and themes I could incorporate into my narrative. I had grand plans of covering all aspects of everything cooking, which I described in my first posts.

I soon discovered, my blog was taking up almost all of my time. I was hoping I would eventually fall into the swing of things, and as I got better at maneuvering through the blogosphere, I could get my posts done more efficiently. However, after weeks went by with no let up, I began to fear the worst. THIS BLOG IS TAKING OVER MY LIFE!!!

I’ve been spending sooo much time blogging, I haven’t had time to cook. This seemed a bit counter productive. I mean the whole point of this is my cooking! What am I gonna post about if I don’t make any food. I began feeling like a sham. After all, my blog was supposed be about making the time to cook great food on a short time budget. And that is exactly what I am not doing.

To add insult to injury, in reviewing my blog, I was beginning to feel like I’d lost my voice. I wanted to have a hip urban tone which reflects my lifestyle of someone in their twenties, living a full life in the city. I don’t want to come off as a suburban housewife. However in reading back through the archives, I’ve realized I use the word “Yummy” in almost every post. AHHHHHHH!!! I never say yummy. In fact I almost hate Yummy.

So my yummy timepit of a blog is really stressing me out. I’ve come to the realization, I’m in a blog rut. And so soon! What to do? No time to cook, no time to clean the house, I’m all wound up. With this going on, how can I conquer the internet?

Ok, so there is my problem. I think I’ve been trying to do too much, and trying too hard. I can’t expect to start a blog and immediately do everything perfectly. In trying too hard, I’ve been trying to cover everything I know in too short of a space. I am getting too bogged down in the details like how my voice is being read, that I’ve lost my voice!

I’m not always making awesome food from scratch and recently, I’ve been eating out too much. Oh, whatever. I have a Burger King down the street. My food blog has almost forced me into a whopper jr. of a lifestyle. I’m not some perfect little yummy homemaker with delicious treats for your tummy on the table every night after work. Not at all. But then again, who is expecting that?

I can get really crabby, spending so much time on something and then wondering if I am doing a good job. I just have to quit worrying about it. People have given me advice on how to streamline my operations and I’m working on my format to try and tighten down some sense of theme and become more consistent in following it; posting more often, utilizing more web based content. I just need to write the blog the way I want, and keep it fun. I want to do the above stated things, but if I don’t implement them immediatly, that’s ok. If I don’t post every other day, it will be fine. I guess I just needed to come clean and confess my problems so I can move on. Although I am obviously not that good at the internet, I’m workin on it!

Down With The Dictatorship Of The Recipe

I used to be a horrible cook. Much to the chagrin of my parents’ attempt to teach me to cook real food, I was notorious for burning even boxed brownies and having crunchy Kraft mac and cheese for my lunch. Because of my very rebellious and inpatient personality, I always found the structure of recipes to be oppressive with very narrow parameters, always telling me what to do and ordering me around! So when I moved out of the house at 17 and tried making food for myself, I thought, screw this! Frozen pizza, canned soup, and cereal were my three food groups.

When I started dating Ira, he was vegan, so he had become skilled at cooking for himself due to the rarity of good vegan fast food. Every night he would make himself a delicious stir fry or rice and beans. As I began to help him out, he would explain to me what he was doing and why. He never used a recipe for any of the simple meals he prepared because he understood the underlying principles of how the dish worked. Where a recipe tells you what to do, most never explain why. So as Ira explained very basic rules like cooking harder vegetables first and what basic ingredients are necessary for a sauce, I began to see that one doesn’t need to follow a recipe down to the dot to have the food turn out yummy!

As I got more confident in my cooking abilities, I moved on to cooking on my own. Trying more and more techniques and attempting more difficult food items, I was able to understand how different dishes are constructed. By using a recipe merely as a guideline and not as strict rules, I no longer felt trapped, and I allowed myself the freedom to explore and be creative. Now when preparing a dish I have never cooked before, I peruse a recipe to see what the general technique is, and then I use my own creativity decide in what ways I plan to follow or deviate from it.

A lot of people are afraid of deviating from a recipe, but I always encourage it. I don’t believe you can screw anything up too much. You can generally fix anything which you feel hasn’t turned out. If a soup tastes bland, you can jazz it up with some seasoning, or add some coconut milk to make it creamy. I constantly test whatever I am making to see if it needs something more. Sometimes I add crazy things to recipes to spice them up and I take the flavors in a completely different direction. I like to stay spontaneous. Because of this, I generally never make anything exactly the same way twice. Maybe it doesn’t always turn out great, but trial and error is the best way to learn!

Sometimes a thing you are working on doesn’t turn out so well, and you have to scramble at the last minute to make it work. Perhaps you can’t change the dish, but you can change your intentions with it. Maybe you planned on making a roulade wrap with greens but the greens aren’t holding your delicious ricotta filling. Your guests are waiting! Its time to quickly cook some pasta and say, “This is no longer a Roulade! It is now a delicious ricotta pasta with greens!”

The rule stating you should make something once before serving to guests I DO NOT abide by. Guests should have a part in the spontaneity of cooking by mood because it is more fun and helps to make them feel included! I don’t feel this way because everything I cook always turns out exactly the way I want it. I have to scramble all the time. If things don’t turn out at all, it at least usually makes a good story.

I love telling about the vegan dinner party I was asked to host many years ago. I enjoy the challenge of vegan cooking because you have to work around so many obstacles. The party was planned for a summer weeknight, and I had just been given a bunch of organic almonds (in the shell) from my Aunt Dottie, who works at whole foods. I thought I might try a chilled almond soup recipe I had seen.

I spent hours shelling and blanching the skin off those bastard nuts. I read over the recipe and began to prepare the soup by pureeing the nuts with some almond milk and water. At this point, I was supposed to add only one clove of raw garlic, but I thought to myself “everyone likes garlic, and it is so good for you, might as well add three or four”. So I did. MISTAKE!!!!!!!! Raw garlic has such a STRONG flavor. The “soup” tasted like garlic water with some nut chunks. GROSS! Ok, I thought, how can I fix this. I figured I could add something sweet to counterpoint the intense garlic. So I added some apple juice. No Dice! Tasted like garlic water with apple juice and nut chunks. Ok, what could I do from here…

My Aunt Dottie had just taken me to Tru, a fancy five star restaurant in Chicago, to celebrate my graduation from College and my 22nd birthday. We had been given, between courses, a garlic sorbet served to cleanse the palette. It was delicious! OK, Garlic Apple Almond sorbet it is. So I stuck food processor bowl and all in the freezer. With sorbets, you need to keep mixing them as they freeze so the crystals don’t become to big. I woke up in the middle of the night and mixed that sorbet as well as mixing it before work the next morning. When I got home from work, with about an hour until my guests arrived, I tasted the sorbet and ugh! It tasted like frozen garlic water with apple juice and nut chunks. Was I gonna quit after all that god damn work?? NO! So I decided to add some vanilla and a little more sugar, mixed that baby up and put it back in the freezer.

Needless to say, we went without a soup course that night. I don’t even remember what I served for the entre. But guess what I pulled out and served for desert? I served each person a very small dollop of garlic apple vanilla sorbet with almond chunks! The only one who ate it was my friend Andy, and the only reason he did was to show everyone he will eat anything. Thanks, Andy! I served this only as a joke of course, and immediately pulled out the real desert of vegan apple pie with tofutti. As I said, I can’t remember the entre, but do I remember the sorbet! My friends and I still joke about it.

So not everything I have made has been a success, but its been fun! I’m no professional. I have no formal training, I just like to be creative in the kitchen. Despite this horrible sorbet I served my friends, they all consider me to be an excellent cook, or at least they tell me they do. So lets not get too mucked down with rules and regulations. Lets throw caution to the wind and reinvent cooking for ourselves!

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