Fast dinners call for
Yesterday was our one year anniversary. I was going to write a post about it, but I guess I got busy with other things. We took a weekend away which was nice, but by the time we got back, there were a lot of things to do! Laundry, work, and finding a nice “romantic anniversary dinner” recipe that would be easy enough to pull off. Apparently there are lists of these things on the Internet, you know? So I tried to make steak for the first time by myself. Well it wasn’t exactly stellar. I cooked it longer than I intended to and put too much salt. But it was okay. I think Hubby was touched, which is what counts. Today I’m trying another one on that Internet list. It’s a baked chicken with tomatoes and garlic and kale, and it was pretty easy, so far. We’ll see how it turns out!
I’m kind of pooped now, after two part-time jobs during the day and feeling the kale bits on the kitchen floor with my feet while prepping. Yes, something about that tires me out. My head is aching, but the chicken is in the oven. Phew.
So seriously, what am I supposed to write? Oh boy, what is a girl to do! Marriage is a strange and funny thing, and there are some things that just have to be kept between the two peas. That’s the hard thing about it. On the one hand, it’s my marriage right, so I should be able to talk about it? But on the other hand, we’re two and yet one. It’s all intertwined and yet not. That’s the funny thing about marriage.
I seriously have arm cramps from whatever I did today (blowing bubbles for kids? throwing a bouncy ball? I have no idea..) so I will continue this line of thought later.
I’ll leave you with a quote I found that resonates with me.
A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short. – Andre Marois
Today’s dinner was a messy conglomeration of half defrosted chicken that baked in the oven for so long and was still pink (but safe to eat, we found out) and salad. There was rice too, but we forgot about it. Life has been tricky in the cooking department. Meal planning is still not my forte, I mean, preference. I mean I think about meal planning, and I just don’t want to do it. The idea of making food that I possibly wanted to eat a few days ago but may not want to eat the day of seems miserable. Is it more miserable than finding out we spent too much money on pho and In-N-Out because we didn’t feel like eating dumplings that night, and there was nothing planned? I’m not sure.
I haven’t balanced last month’s money ins and outs yet. Being grown up is hard sometimes. As a teen, I hoped to be grown up by 18. But when 18 rolled around, I felt quite juvenile. Now, I’m a lot older than 18, and if I consider my age and what I thought I would accomplish by now for too long, well, it can be discouraging. Often times, I look for inspiration to start something new. Guidance of some sort. Tips, rules, someone’s past experiences and knowledge, anything I can hang onto. It’s nice that we live in the age of Internet now, where so much information is readily available. But I think for me, sometimes it results in analysis paralysis and a perfectionism that might not have been as common in a world less connected.
I’m pooped. Goodnight.
And they mean a few things to me. Burning, cooking, and spraying oil.
Today in the oven we have two pyrexes of ratatouille. They were adapted from the ratatouille recipe from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Apparently, adaptation is what you call it when you change a recipe and make it your own. I use it loosely in this case to mean that I did not have all the ingredients on hand nor did I measure what I did have.
I figured I’d just pile veggies on in more or less even layers, because I’ve made ratatouille before. So that’s what I did. Who knows whether it will turn out. Also, the recipe only calls for salt on every layer of five veggies, which seemed a little odd. I just went with it. I had no fresh herbs save basil, so I used the leftover basil and added some other dried herbs based on what I had. Oregano, parsley. Does oregano or parsley go in ratatouille? Meh!
Right now I’m also adapting a Blue Apron recipe to make a butternut squash bean soup. It’s sizzling like crazy over in the kitchen so I’m afraid it’s burning.
—- Recipe says two teaspoons of oil for one butternut squash, and to cook it for 6-8 minutes, until tender and slightly browned —–
And it burned. Nice toasty brown spots on the bottom. Did I not put enough oil? Was my heat too high? Was my pre-cut butternut squash not quite equivalent to one butternut squash?
See the toasty bottoms of the butternut squash that I was not going for:
It’s not too bad, so I’ll keep going. Once I’ve reached the burning point in cooking, I kind of panic. So I add the spices in, which right now is another haphazard mixture of cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, because I haven’t got Ras El Hanout. However, a quick search on Wikipedia says it’s composed of “Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.” So I throw in all of the stuff I have in my cupboard that fits the bill and figure I can do without the rest. Next, in go the beans and the water. I have some chicken broth leftover and I don’t want it to go to waste (Does anyone waste copious amounts of chicken broth or is it just me? Why are the cartons so large and why must they be used within 7 days of opening?), so I substitute that for some water, and add some water for good measure and faithfulness to the original recipe. Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, as I bring the soup to a boil, knowing that I won’t risk burning anything here.
Phew. And then my oven sound goes off. That means the ratatouille is done. I wish I could just leave it there but I fear it might dry out. And it’s beeping, again. Hold on, need to check that.
I’ve tasted the soup, and to my relief, it tastes pretty good. It tastes like butternut squash (Who would’ve thought!).
Okay, okay, I’ll go get the oven.
I wonder if I dislike ovens beeping for the same reason I dislike phones ringing. The sense of urgency sends me anxiously scrambling, except not scrambling, because I’m trying to finish my blog post, okay? And neither ovens nor phones seem to bend to blog posting schedules. They just beep, and beep, and beep.
Alright, before it burns now.
Here’s what the ratatouille looks like. It doesn’t look like the ones I’ve made in the past. It looks shriveled and sad! Did I not drizzle enough oil on the top? Was it in the oven for too long?
Oh yeah, I’m not vegetarian, by the way, and neither is my husband. I just happen to dislike touching meat if I can help it. Let’s just pretend that’s what we were going for. Will this be a filling enough vegetarian meal? Time will tell. And this is what a blog post looks like when it’s done in the middle of cooking.
Mondays are nice days for me. My husband has to go to work, but I get to stay and sleep in a bit after a usually active weekend.
Today I tried pork bone daikon soup in the pressure cooker. I couldn’t find any recipes online that were modified for the pressure cooker, so I kind of winged it using Miss Vickie’s guidelines, which basically say that the time is about 1/3 of normal cooking time. I wasn’t sure if it worked, because afterwards, the pork looked kind of pink in the middle still, and I was worried that it would be no bueno for us later. What to do?
I’ll have to try this one again using the normal pot over the stovetop method and do a comparison.
I also decided to try to make steamed egg, which I first tasted at my friend’s place. Apparently it’s really easy and very delicious, my go-to buzz words. I made it in our old-school rice cooker that has been sitting all dusty in our pantry. Apparently there are a number of ways to steam something, and I was so consumed with figuring out how to steam the egg that when my husband came home, I didn’t even go to greet him, which is unheard of. Usually once I hear the doorknob rattle, I run over, open the door, and give him a big hug. This time he walked into the kitchen and found me poring over my laptop with tabs upon tabs open. That was kind of sad. Oops.
Unfortunately the end result was that both dishes suffered from a lack of salt. Seriously, why do they say season salt to taste? What if I don’t know how much salt that is? Of course you can always add more salt later at the table, but it always feels to me like a cooking fail when I have to tell people to do that.
Lastly I also had hubby heat up onion pancakes (pre-made, frozen), and stir-fry the pea sprouts. He is much better than I am at cooking. I have to use a timer for everything lest I overcook or undercook something, or simply forget and burn it. So anyway, at least his part of the meal was good.
Even though I got tons of sleep and spent a nice afternoon at a cafe today, I am so pooped now. After stressing out over how dinner is going to turn out and whether or not I’m going to get food poisoning from it, well I think it’s time to sleep.
And I leave you with this quote to sum up my cooking adventures.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”