While I am a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ of sorts (although I am super picky and am not keen on trying new and adventurous foods), I am not a fan of actually being in the kitchen to cook. I do however, LOVE to watch the Food Network, and would happily spend a few hours every Saturday morning with a coffee and the fur kids snuggled up watching nothing but cooking shows. NOT that I would attempt to cook any of them, I just love watching them.
As of late, my ‘cube-mate’ has been bringing in some delightful smelling lunch treats (note that almost all ‘reheated’ food smells make me nauseous) which, coming from me, is huge. I am not a fan of the office-lunch-leftover, and 50 people all heating up different foods in a 30 minute time span puts me on the edge of wanting to have my scent glands removed every single day. But I digress. My cube-mate (I shall call her ‘K’) brings in the most awesomely packaged, pre-cooked, homemade, delicious smelling lunches. And lucky for me, she likes to share, so always offers up a taste of whatever she has on her menu that day. All I can say is… YUM.
All of this delicious lunch fare inspired me to do something which I never, ever do. Cook. And not just cook. Cook things I have never made before. From RECIPES. Thankfully my friend took a lot of the leg-work out of the recipe search by forwarding me hers – all “super-easy” and budget friendly. Or so I thought.
The first new recipe I tried was for Emeril’s Jambalaya. Seemed easy enough and ‘K’ took the time to tell me how not to get too hung up on the ingredients list – you can substitute, leave out and add in as your tastes prefer. So right away I knew I was leaving out the onions and peppers since I loathe those 2 things more than almost any food items in the world. I wanted to make sure I had the right flavour so I got the necessary spices to make a batch of Emeril’s ‘Bam’ spice. I could use that in anything I thought to myself. I’m also not a huge fan of sausage or un-battered shrimp, but thought I would give it a try in the name of culinary adventure. I was so excited. I set about one Sunday afternoon, cutting and prepping and stirring. The end result? A goopy, pastey, ricey, too-spicy glob of meats and tomato sauce. Oh. And the shrimp that I painstakingly de-veined and de-shelled (bought fresh from the fish counter at Longos)? They ended up in the garbage since I forgot my ‘ready’ shrimp were in the paper with the discarded shells and veins. Not to worry – I rinsed them well before throwing them into the pot. Oh well. Onto the next recipe.
This time I decided to venture off on my own to the land of online recipes. Dangerous territory for the novice I learned. I should tell you my only social media outlet is Pinterest. I love Pinterest. I find pinning things very calming. I especially love pinning recipes. Which I never make. BUT, with my new-found interest in cooking, I sought out a few I was certain would be home-runs. Wrong.
Enter the ‘kid-friendly, vegetarian-approved, easy curried tofu and rice‘ recipe. Hooray! I enjoyed tofu and this sounded like a great way to get my daughters to try it. Easy, not spicy AND kid-friendly! Done! Cut to 40 minutes later (of what was apparently supposed to be 15 minutes of ‘prep-time’) and the curry is going down the sink. A greenish, powdery, gritty mess. Which now contained about 20 ingredients not even listed in the recipe. Cream cheese, milk, salt, garlic, pepper, broth… you name it and I threw it in there to make it edible. The tofu seemed okay in it’s harmless cube form and having been lightly sauteed. So I did what any good mom would do, I boiled up some noodles, threw on some pasta sauce and added the tofu. Voila! Spaghetti and tofu cubes. Gross.
Not to be discouraged and even more than ever determined to get it right – just once. I was off in search of another easy, kid-friendly recipe. Ohhhh, I know! Shepherd’s Pie. How hard could that be? And everyone I know makes that. Hmmm. I didn’t have real potatoes, the instant ones I found in my pantry were going to have to do. Ugh. I didn’t have broth of any type.. canned tomato soup is practically the same! Canned corn, salt & pepper. This was going to be deelish!
If only there were enough descriptive words on the planet to give you an adequate visual of how this Not-Shepherd’s-Pie but rather ‘Shepherd’s-Liquid-Saucy-Soup’ came out of the dish. Instant mashed potatoes and canned soup were clearly NOT the right substitutions.
Seeing the fear in my daughters eyes every time I begin perusing recipes online, I have decided to spare them the dinner-time anxiety of what I could potentially be presenting to them to eat, and have gone back to my recipe-less standbys. The ‘beige-dinners’ as they fondly refer to them – pasta, chicken and rice. I will keep searching however, for that one, elusive recipe that actually gets eaten…