Friday, March 15, 2013

Kitchen Adventures


Kitchen Adventures:
           Tripping through Eating Well magazine's Vegetarian Recipes

For me, cooking is a good way to get up and get moving.
It gets me away from long hours at my desk.
And there's nothing more pleasant on a cold, nearly Spring day
than a warm kitchen in which food is being prepared.

Recently, in order to take my mind off of the cold and gray weather--
which makes me want to curl up into a ball under a blanket 
and eat chocolate Girl Scout cookies--
I committed myself to preparing a new vegetarian recipe every evening.
Most of them came from Eating Well magazine online 
and its "Healthy Vegetarian Recipes and Menus" page.

The first dish was unusual in that it paired savoy cabbage with wheat pasta.
 It was called Alpine Mushroom Pasta, and it wasn't bad
although cabbage and pasta aren't very complementary in my book.

Alpine Mushroom Pasta Recipe
photo from

The next night, Basque Vegetable Rice, a spicy rice dish similar to Spanish rice.
I had mushrooms left over, so I added them. 
It was good, but a little too spicy.

which was by far my favorite, mixing sauteed polenta, spinach, 
and great northern beans that I soaked and cooked myself.

Catalan Sauteed Polenta & Butter Beans Recipe
photo from

The fourth dish was Asian Tofu Salad, to which I added seaweed salad.
It would have made a better side dish 
because frankly that was a lot of seaweed,
and I definitely have to be in the mood for that tangle of green.

After my semi-successful foray into unusual recipes,
I was inspired to go through a vegetarian cookbook my sister had sent me
several years ago. I love Indian food, so when I saw a recipe for
Parsnip and Aubergine Biryani, I was in.
Little did I know what a commitment of time I was making.
I chopped.
I sauteed.
I blended.
I chopped some more.
Sauteed some more.
Blended some more.
And then simmered the whole of the ingredients for 40 minutes.

photo courtesy of

And then, two hours in, I still wasn't finished.
It was at this point my husband kindly offered to pick up Chinese food.
I was getting tired, but it was too late to turn back.

And I still had to cook the rice which had been soaking.
And then, after draining the cooked rice, 
the recipe said I had to pile it on top of the vegetable mixture
but then fashion it in the shape of a volcano, complete with an opening.
I learned it's very hard to make rice do anything it doesn't want to.

Finally, I decorated the rice with cooked onions, cashews, and currants
and popped the whole concoction into the oven for another 40 minutes.
At 8:00 p.m., nearly 4 hours after I had begun, the biryani emerged from the oven.
The rice volcano had fallen into the sea off vegetables during baking,
but I was encouraged to see that the gray sauce didn't look quite as gray.

The whole dish was edible, but not really to our taste.
And there was a lot left over.
So now, I have a decision to make;
do I go through the motions of freezing it, 
knowing it will get pushed to the back of the freezer
until I one day notice a brick of rice and waxy cashews 
covered in ice crystals and ask myself what it is.
Or do I just put it down the garbage disposal now.
Hours to cook it followed by months of its languishing in the freezer 
30 seconds in the garbage disposal.
I'm thinking.

No comments: